The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

An Organization Structure Modeling Standard

In 2004, the OMG (Object Management Group) issued an RFP for an Organization Structure Metamodel-modeling elements and relationships for representing business organizations. Some initial work was done, but little has been done in the last two years. This has been partly due to economic conditions, but a major factor appears to be a lack of appreciation by potential product vendors that there is a market for organizational modeling tools.

An organization structure model should capture information on the people in an organization, their roles, responsibilities and relationships. The traditional organizational hierarchy is one perspective on the organization. However, people generally have many other roles and relationships. They may participate in project teams, task forces, committees and work groups that are not defined by the traditional organizational hierarchy. They have roles and authority in various business processes. In some companies operating in a matrix mode, the organizational hierarchy provides little insight into who is doing what. The model should also support the management of change-future effective dates, and retrospect-viewing the organization model that was effective at a past point in time.

In addition, aspects of the more comprehensive organizational structure occur many places throughout an enterprise. When the organization changes, or a person is hired or fired, how many databases or directories must be updated? The organization structure applies to accounting, to approval processes and work assignments, to job titles and pay levels, to email directories and access authorization for security. These multiple updates are invitations for inconsistencies, and represent considerable administrative overhead.

From an industry standards perspective, the organization model relates to business rules modeled with SBVR (Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules), to strategic planning modeled with BMM (Business Motivation Model), to business process management modeled with BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) and BPDM (Business Process Definition Metamodel), as well as other business models defined elsewhere or to be defined in the future.

Two related future specifications under consideration at OMG would support modeling of value chains and role based access control (RBAC). Responses have been received to a Value Delivery Modeling RFI and a Business Security and Authorization Policy Modeling RFI. Value chain modeling would provide detail of the business capabilities provided by business organizations and their contributions to delivery of customer value. RBAC modeling would facilitate management control and accountability for authorizations, where authorizations in many cases are related to organizational roles and responsibilities. These are particularly important for a services oriented architecture (SOA).

We recently opened up the OSM RFP process to admit new submitters. Hopefully this will bring new momentum.

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
Follow Us
About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.