Guidelines for working with cases

What is a case?

A case is a collection of related documents, records, and other related information used to document a work process, typically for administrative purposes, including for making decisions.


A case may be equivalent to what the case officer would save in a separate folder on the shared drive, in a separate folder in Outlook, or in a dossier – i.e. all the documents, emails, memos, parties, etc. collected and registered to perform a task.  


Which tasks should be stored in Workzone?

 

If you are in doubt as to whether a task should be filed in Workzone, use the following questions as a guide. If you can answer yes to one or more of the questions, the information and documents in the task should be stored on a case in Workzone: 

  • Is it possible that complaints or requests for right of access to documents will arise later?  
  • Will the material form the basis for decisions or rulings? For example, in relation to recruitment of employees, rejection/authorisation for credit transfer, applications for funding or to plan research projects, approval of a rule/strategy/policy, determination of a work process or planning a call for tenders?   
  • Do you collect/note case-relevant knowledge that may be needed to perform a task or to perform similar tasks in the future?  
  • Do you prepare an agenda/minutes in a meeting forum where decisions are made, for example a management meeting?  
  • Do you decide whether to enter into an external collaboration with government agencies, businesses, special interest organisations or similar? 
  • Are you performing public sector consultancy?  
  • Are you working on a research application or on entering into a formal agreement?  
  • Do you provide advice or act as an expert?  
  • Are you involved in a contract-like relationship, e.g. in connection with procurement, lending equipment or analysis work?  
  • Are you applying for a licence or approval from government agencies? 

Defining cases – the single-case principle

 

The single-case principle is used at Aarhus University. This means that a case is defined as a delimited event, task or activity. The case therefore only contains the documents, parties, notes, etc. relating to one specific task.

The single-case principle ensures that no information is stored in cases for which the information is not relevant. It also ensures clarity as to which records and parties have led to which decisions. The principle can also help to ensure that no ordinary, sensitive or confidential personal data is retained for longer than authorised.

Exceptions from the single-case principle

As a general rule, there should be no exceptions from the single-case principle. However, there may be situations where it can be appropriate to set up a consolidated case to facilitate case processing. A consolidated case collects information about a topic of a more abstract nature.

As a general rule, a consolidated case should not be used for processing cases regarding specific people, but if it does, all parties must be linked to the case, and all material must have the same retention period and therefore be deleted at the same time. 

Creating cases

A case is created immediately after the task has been identified, and task performance then commences as case processing, correspondence and/or knowledge collection. Creating the case as quickly as possible makes it possible to file relevant documents on an ongoing basis.

A case can be created on the basis of an email, a conversation, a phone call or a specific application or request.

 

In some situations, cases start in other systems and are created in Workzone via an integration as part of an agreed process.

When creating a case, metadata must be added to the case, making it possible and easy to identify and retrieve the case, while maintaining an overview of the overall case portfolio. Metadata is, for example, title, case group, Responsible unit, Acting unit and classification. You should also consider whether a party should be linked to the case. 

Case Category

 

When a new case is created, it is possible to select a case category – e.g. Research funding applications, External project, Public sector consultancy or Student cases.

The case categories are designed to support specific case processing in the various areas, and they contain special metadata fields to support case processing and processes in the various areas.

Unless otherwise agreed, use Subject case.


Case metadata

When a case is created, the following must be specified as a minimum:

  • Case number (added automatically)
  • Created by (added automatically)
  • Created date (added automatically)
  • Case group
  • Case Title
  • Case handler
  • Responsible unit

Case title

The case must be given a descriptive title, so that the title indicates what the case is about. The title ensures that the case can be quickly searched for and differentiated from other cases.

The title should serve as a very brief and concise summary of the case. Abbreviations should be used carefully, as they may lose or change their meaning over time. Think about what others would search for if they wanted to find the case. 

Case titles should include a description of What, When and Who

  • What indicates what the case is about 
  • When indicates the relevant period of the case  
  • Who indicates who the case is about and relates to local organisation, for example 

Examples include:

  • WPA process 2019 Department of Biomedicine  
  • Project New HR System 2020 - AU HR
  • Research project on otter habitats 2019 Agroecology

The same principles for naming cases apply to cases listed as parent cases or child cases.   

In some areas of administration, an agreement has been made on specific naming of cases for the area, e.g. in cases regarding decisions in AU Student Administration and Services and AU HR, creation of projects in AU Finance or cases regarding research projects in the research administration. The superuser groups for the area will establish agreements on specific naming practices. 

Record chart and case group

AU's record chart has been approved by the Danish National Archives. When you create a case in Workzone, select the case group in the record chart that matches the specific task. 

The record chart is divided into main groups, followed by subject groups and finally case groups.

Examples from the recordchart: 

Main group: 0 Organisation 
Subject group: 01 Management 
Case group:  015 Academic Council and Department/School forums 

Main group: 5 Education 
Subject group: 50 Education, in general 
Case group:  503 Forum for Education 

Main group: 6 Research 
Subject group: 63 Utilisation of research results 
Case group:  632 Complaints and legality checks of rights in relation to patent cases 


Note: Most subject groups have a case group named "General" (generelt), and a group named "Miscellaneous" (diverse):  

  • The "General" group (case group xx0) is used for general cases for the subject group, e.g. when the case contains decisions on fundamental issues, general rules and/or guidelines.  
  • The "Miscellaneous" group (case group xx9) is used for cases that cannot be placed in any of the other categories within the case group. 


The record chart is common for all of AU. As a rule, a case group reflects the subject of the case and not its organisational affiliation. Instead, this appears from the case metadata fields: "Responsible unit" and "Acting unit". For example, cases regarding access to documents will always have to be filed in case group 062, regardless of whether the request concerns access to a case with HR, Finance and Estates Projects and Development, or a department/school. 

In collaboration with the relevant superuser group, the individual administrative areas or groups of employees processing the same type of cases should define which groups of cases are to be used.

If the existing case groups are not adequate for a case area, new ones can be created.  Requests for new case groups are first drawn up by the superuser groups for the administrative areas and then approved by HR Data and Digitalisation.

Protecting cases - access

 

Cases are created by default in Workzone without restricted admission, i.e. without restricted access. This means that, in general, all users of Workzone can see and access all cases in the system.

If a case contains information of sensitive or confidential nature, the case should be protected with a technical function known as access. Access must be added to all cases involving specific people. The access function restricts access to the specific case at department/school, unit or individual level or for groups of employees.

Read more about use of the different types of insight functions here, or contact your local superuser if you are in doubt about how to use the access function.

Note that employees may only access cases that are relevant in a work-related context and that all actions in Workzone are logged.  

Responsible unit and Acting unit

The Responsible unit is the administrative unit on behalf of which the processing is taking place, for example, a board of studies, a department secretariat, a research centre, a dean's office or Rector's Office. 

The Acting unit is the administrative unit conducting the case processing, for example an administrative centre or a department secretariat.

The same administrative unit may be both the Responsible unit and the Acting unit.  

Data classification of cases

Data being processed at AU must be classified. This also applies to information in the cases filed in Workzone. Data is classified as public data, internal data, sensitive data or confidential data, respectively.     

State

When a case is created, the state of the case is New by default. 

It is possible to select other states. The superuser groups for the areas will agree on their practice for these states. 

Information and Keywords

It is possible to add specific information to an individual administrative area and keywords to specific cases. This can help easier identification using a theme or search for cases. The superuser groups for the areas will decide on a practice for using keywords and types of information.  

Relationships between cases

It is possible to indicate relationships between cases, either in the form of case references or parent/child cases. For both types of relationships, the relationship is defined with a descriptive link between the cases in question. Thus, the relationship does not change the requirements for metadata, creation and closing of the individual cases. 

Case references

A case reference is a link to another case that may be relevant for processing the case in question. By making a case reference between two cases, it is possible to establish a documentation trail. 

The use of case references can help the case officer gain an overview of major related cases.   

Parent/child cases

Hierarchies in parent/child cases are used to structure all the material on major related cases: for example, if an IT project wants to differentiate between tender documents, implementation plans and the organisation of support. 

The parent/child case relationship does not describe a hierarchical relationship. Rather, it describes a need to differentiate the content of larger cases based on sub-purposes. The same requirements for metadata apply for parent/child cases, for example regarding titles, creation and closing. 

Handing over cases

 

All active cases in Workzone are linked to a case handler. When a case handler's employment ceases, or the person is given other tasks, the case handlers's responsibilities in non-closed cases will be transferred to another case handler. The individual manager is responsible for ensuring that cases are handed over to another case handler. 

Closing cases

A case is closed immediately after the task has been completed. Closing cases on an ongoing basis ensures an overview of active cases.

Before a case is closed, it must be "cleaned". As a regular user, it is possible to delete documents that have not yet been archived. This means that superfluous or unfinished drafts can be deleted and all remaining documents are given the state “archived”. 

After this, the documents can no longer be changed, and this ensures their integrity. In addition, all documents on the case must have descriptive titles.