XCRi Logo APS Ltd.: Alan Paull Services

Business Case

Policy makers

Build one authoritative source of courses information to be responsive to policy changes.

Why use XCRI?

It's the UK eProspectus standard.
Eliminate re-typing of course marketing information.

Developers

Generate XCRI-CAP catalogs by collecting data about courses and describing them in a single XML document.
Stop data duplication.

Managers

Increase the visibility of courses to learners, employers, course websites and other stakeholders.
Supply 20 or more course websites simultaneously.

The significant business advantages for a learning provider of implementing XCRI-CAP are:

  • Current methods for passing online prospectus information from learning providers to aggregator organisations, such as UCAS and Prospects, typically involve re-keying data already used to populate institutions’ prospectus websites into bespoke web-based forms designed by the aggregators.  By offering a single XML-based catalogue, providers avoid the costs of manual re-keying of course advertising information.  This is an example of internal efficiency gains from business process improvements implemented to support the use of XCRI-CAP outputs.
  • Through a better understanding of the nature of its portfolio of courses when combined into a single XCRI-CAP catalogue, a learning provider gains opportunities for improved quality assurance, standardisation, and consolidation of duplicate offerings.
  • By making their offerings visible on the web in an easy-to-process, open fashion, providers open the door to new web-based services that help market their offerings or add value in other ways.
  • Exchanging information with other organisations using XCRI-CAP brings the potential for new business opportunities and revenue sharing partnerships.

Sector-wide benefits are anticipated from the “network effect” of prospectus providers and aggregating organisations using a common standard.  However, feedback suggests that early adopters have already gained immediate process improvement benefits even before an eco-system of XCRI-consuming aggregators is established.  Providers have reported how the clear specification has catalysed process improvement initiatives for the collection and maintenance of prospectus content.

Other Benefits

  • Prospective fee-paying students want to know more about the academic experience a course will provide and be able to compare this with other courses.  Better informed students are more likely to choose a course that they will complete and be more motivated to achieve better results.
  • XCRI will allow its information to be reproduced for multiple/diverse audiences.
  • XCRI will help the institution to maximise its resources/efficiency.
  • Agility and responsive to new markets/change
  • Implementing XCRI provides a ‘change agent’ for better management of course information and consideration of new curriculum management processes.
  • Auditing the quality of existing course information and where it ends up (particularly non-standard courses).
  • Consistency of course information provided to external websites

Assessing the Business Case for Standards

The JISC briefing paper Assessing the Business Case for Standards: An introduction for strategy planning and resourcing committees defines seven key factors for implementing a course information standard:

  • Reduction of re-keying: cost savings and quality improvement are possible when standards are used alongside good information management principles.
  • Reduced maintenance cost and disruption: ad-hoc system integration is more likely to require a rework when new software releases occur and risks disruption to business continuity in the event of loss of the software developers who were responsible.
  • Durability of data: data formatted to a widely supported standard will remain usable for longer and even less-widely supported open standards will be easier and cheaper to migrate.
  • Avoidance of supplier lock-in
  • Easier development paths: coupled with a strategic approach to technology change, incremental ICT service migration and development of new services is possible.
  • A platform for collaboration: standards are a neutral territory for multilateral business relationships, including institutional mergers. They can enable a more fluid set of relationships and reduce the risk of backing the wrong horse.
  • Whole system economies: shared services without standards are a nonsense.