BOMOS: Management and Development Model for Open Standards

BOMOS: Management and Development Model for Open Standards

Erwin Folmer
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0146-8.ch006
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E-Business standards, or standards for interoperability, are developed outside the traditional standard development organizations, often within industry specific domain organizations. These organizations need some guidance in how to develop and manage standards for their specific domain in order to achieve long lasting standards that actually achieve interoperability between organizations. The Dutch government, together with the standards community, decided to publish a tool called BOMOS for giving guidance to the management and development of open standards. BOMOS is not profoundly grounded on scientific evidence, but it builds on the best practices already used in domain standardization. This chapter will present two highlights of BOMOS: the activity model for management of standardization, and a development approach for standards.
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The management and development of standards is no easy task. Nevertheless, standards are often developed without considering the further development and management of the standard. The cause of this is often the use of project funding to develop a standard, or a corresponding facility. This does not fit well with the continuous development and management of standards.

The purpose of this chapter is to assist organizations in managing and improving standards. The main question for this chapter is:

How can we as an organization develop (and continue to develop) and manage the standard?

The Netherlands Open in Connection, a Dutch government program stimulating open standards, received many questions on how to develop and maintain open standards, in particular since the use of open standards has become obligatory in many cases. Based on these questions it was decided to set up a working group to share best practices between different standardization communities from different domains. Participating domains included education, government, building and construction, temporary staffing standards, etc. Also standardization experts from NEN (Dutch formal standardization institute), TNO and Novay participated. The result was captured in what is called BOMOS, a management and development model for open standards, which aims to support and inspire standardization communities and their clients in the structural design of the management and further development of standards.

Following the first publication in 2009, a new series of workshops took place in 2010. The users of the first version were also represented. In total 6 workshops took place, and 17 experts representing 13 organizations involved in standardization. Their experiences and new insights were used to develop and expand BOMOS further into version 2, which is in 2011 available in both Dutch and English language (Folmer & Punter, 2011).

This chapter continues with the background including setting the scope of this research. Thereafter the state of the art in this research domain will be described, before the activity model from BOMOS is being presented. The chapter will then continue with the development approach captured in BOMOS and will end by a discussion and conclusion section.



The main reasons for organizations to aim for interoperability are effectiveness and efficiency in cooperating with, for example, partners, suppliers and customers within the chain. A lack of interoperability is costly, as a range of studies show. For example, the cost of the lack of interoperability in the automobile industry in the United States is estimated at a billion dollars, and a design period that is two months longer than is strictly necessary (Brunnermeier & Martin, 2002). The government also has an interest in aiming for interoperability, but has an additional reason from a social point of view. For example, consider the consequences of an emergency if the various emergency services were not interoperable. In addition, issues of interoperability arise in themes such as the electronic patient record and the young people at risk referral index. Standards are an important model in achieving interoperability, and in addition, important for supplier independence.

Standards come in all shapes and sizes. There are a great many classifications of standard types (De Vries, 2006), but within government the European Interoperability Framework (European Commission, 2004) is used as a guiding principle. This distinguishes between technical and semantic interoperability, which also means a distinction between technical and semantic standards. The technical (infrastructural) oriented standards can often be transferred one-on-one from international consortia. Standards of a semantic nature often require a national user group (community) in order to develop a national profile. In the context of national law and/or national specific business (and government) processes, it is necessary to adapt international standards to the national situation. Features of semantic standards:

  • They are often a specific interpretation of international standards.

  • They are often for a specific intrinsic problem:

    • o

      e.g. ‘vertical’: information exchange for a particular sector: Geo domain, Education, Care, etc.

    • o

      e.g. ‘horizontal’ information exchange for a particular function: Purchasing, Billing, etc.

  • They are often developed and managed within the domain (the sector), and not by formal standardization organizations.

  • The core of the standard is the semantics (meaning), not the technique.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Open Standard: An ‘open standard’ refers to a standard which complies with the following requirements, in accordance with the Dutch government policy ( The Netherlands Open in Connection - An action plan for the use of Open Standards and Open Source Software in the public and semi-public sector , 2007) and the European Interoperability Framework (Commission, 2004): The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.). The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee. The intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis. There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.

Community: Each specific community or group in the field which is involved in the development and/or management of a specific standard or set of standards on the basis of an explicit collective need. As such needs are often felt in both private and public domains, a community can be a form of public-private partnership.

Management and Development of Standards (in short: management): All activities aimed at working structurally on, making available and keeping a standard or set of standards which always fits the current needs of the parties concerned. A distinction can be made between development and management. The management of standards concerns making available and updating of existing standards on the basis of new preferences and requirements without actual functional expansion. This includes, therefore, distributing the standard through a website, for example, providing support, collecting preferences and requirements and issuing new versions. The development of standards relates to the development of a standard as a solution for a new functional area. This may mean that on the basis of this development, the existing standard is expanded or a new standard is created. Management and development, in the broad sense, for a standard also includes topics like adoption and certification. The development and management of standards differs from the development and management of other products such as platforms and software. A platform is a combination of information, system, organization and interface for the purpose of service. Both internally within the platform and on the interface of the platform with the world beyond, various types of standards may be used including semantic standards. This relationship between a standard and platform applies equally between a standard and software. Standards have different users and other challenges such as harmonizing with communities and international standards. This doesn’t mean that the semantic standardization discipline cannot learn from other disciplines such as the world of software. Models from these disciplines may be usable. In particular, the ASL ( Van der Pols & Backer, 2006 ) and BiSL framework ( Van der Pols & Backer, 2007 ) for functional management can be used to some extent.

Semantic Standards: Agreements on the meaning of data. The term business transaction standards is often used as a synonym for semantic standards, which gives a good impression but in principle excludes vocabularies (value lists) or dossiers (e.g. patients dossier) as standards as they are not transactions. Other terms used are for instance e-business standards, interoperability standards, etc. The semantic standards to which this chapter applies may apply in the every context (B2B, B2C, B2G, G2G, G2C).

Semantic Interoperability: This means that cooperating parties allocate the same meaning to the data that is exchanged.

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