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Organization Structure Modeling Standard

Organization structure is a fundamental aspect of business architecture. It is more than the traditional management hierarchy; it is about working roles and relationships. A modeling standard and supporting tools are needed both for business architects and for the many ways organization structure affects business operations, planning and decisions.

The Object Management Group (OMG) has an outstanding Request for Proposals for an Organization Structure Metamodel. There has been some initial work on this specification, but it has been delayed due to limited resources and the demands for other specifications. There is a need to expand participation.

An enterprise should have an organization structure model as a central point of reference for organizational roles and responsibilities. This should be a basis for employee directories, approvals in business processes, separation of responsibilities, collaboration, and a variety of other activities involving people, responsibilities and authority. A draft OMG specification addresses the traditional management hierarchy, and it also addresses cross-organizational project teams, committees and chains of command for differing purposes.

The OMG recently re-opened the opportunity for new submitters to participate in the specification development process. Under OMG procedures, the OMG issues an RFP and interested members with an appropriate level of membership (1) submit letters of intent (LOI) by a specified date, and (2) submit proposals by a specified submission date. The revised LOI date is now November 24, 2008, and the submission date is February 23, 2009. Submitters often work together to prepare a joint submission. After receipt of initial submissions, a revised submission date allows for additional work and the opportunity for submitters to resolve differences to develop a submission that all can support. The status of the RFP and current submitters are tracked on the Organization Structure Metamodel (OSM) RFP page. A new revised submission date is expected to be set by the Business Modeling and Integration task force in December, once new submitters have been identified.

I believe this is an important specification for the industry, enabling the integration of an enterprise-wide central point of reference and administration. It is also an important component of a broader OMG strategy to support business architecture modeling. The OMG Business Architecture Work Group is exploring these broader issues. The OSM    should complement existing OMG specifications for strategic planning (Business Motivation Metamodel), business rules (Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules), and business processes (Business Process Modeling Notation and Business Process Definition Metamodel).

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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.
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