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Last modified: May 03, 2006
Business-Centric Methodology


[May 03, 2006] In April 2006, OASIS announced the approval of BCM v1.0 as an OASIS Standard. From the specification abstract: "This specification defines usage of BCM V1 that provides a set of layered methods for acquiring interoperable e-business information within communities of interest. The BCM OASIS Standard serves as a road map, enabling organizations to identify and exploit business success factors in a technology-neutral manner, based on open standards. BCM offers a comprehensive approach for reducing unnecessary risk by providing techniques that result in an information architecture for enterprise agility and interoperability. The BCM standard addresses interoperability through the semantic alignment of concepts and layering of constraints, as defined by reusable business templates." A separate Appendix B defines the BCM Version 1 Linking and Switching details.

The Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) is "a comprehensive approach for reducing unneeded risk by providing proven techniques that result in an information architecture for Enterprise agility and interoperability. BCM addresses interoperability through the semantic alignment of concepts and layering of constraints as defined by reusable business templates." Principals in the Business-Centric Methodology project include Mike Lubash, Bruce Peat, David RR Webber, and others. Bruce Peat (President of eProcess Solutions) provided "consulting to DoD Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) CIO's 'Emerging Technologies'; together they developed the Business-Centric Methodology, and associated information architecture artifacts. They have developed a 'Semantic Architectures' presentation decribing methods to align various frameworks, JTA/C4ISR, eb/XML, UML, Zachman, etc. [Summary 2003]

Background to BCM

Today's Approach: The presentation of the interoperability problem would not be complete without mentioning the established methodologies for overcoming these inhibitors. Some of the relevant methodologies that attempt to improve and manage Enterprise interoperability are: Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), UN/CEFACT Modeling Methodology (UMM), Model Driven Architecture (MDA), Rational Unified Process (RUP), Integrated Definition (IDEF), E-Commerce Integration Meta-Framework (ECIMF), Open Applications Group Interoperability Specification (OAGIS), and ANSI Electronic Data Interchange (X12). Each of these frameworks has strengths as well as weaknesses that limit their application and effectiveness. For instance, the C4ISR standard is widely applied within the Department of Defense while the X12 standard is designed to improve electronic business transactions. They are designed with interoperability objectives specific to their applied environment that are not particularly transferable between environments. While this is true, these methodologies are required by the organizations that developed them and often cannot be dismissed. What is needed is a complimentary interoperability methodology that provides an information architecture for choice. How choice is supported by conceptual agreement, lexical alignment, traceability, and the capture of textual, declarative rationale is covered in the next section.

Enterprise Evolution: The BCM evolved after years of addressing the symptoms of the interoperability problem and not the root causes directly. The BCM extended the registry-based, business transaction model developed first at the XML/edi Group and later at OASIS and UN/CEFACT with ebXML (Electronic Business XML) specifications. As the BCM was developed it became clear that it had wide application to the rapidly changing mission of corporate and government Enterprises. These organizations are actively transforming themselves to meet the challenges of the new century including those encountered in systems development and business operations..."

"The Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) is a complimentary approach to current architectures and methods for constructing a business-oriented infrastructure that transforms the interoperability problem into opportunities. By making the business objectives, agreements, semantics, and rules of an organization preeminent in system and partnership development; by simplifying the transformation of corporate data into context-specific information collected in templates; and by separating the technical solution from the business infrastructure, the BCM establishes an interoperability framework that can break the stovepipes and bridge the differences between systems, applications, partnerships, and departments. Additionally, the BCM focuses on increasing best value within an eBusiness environment in order to reduce development time, integration resource requirements, and maintenance costs through reuse and coordination of efforts."

[excerpted from the BCM Short Description]

Business-Centric Methodology Overview

[Provisional description, adapted from the DFAS BCM Project Overview by Mike Lubash]

Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) focuses on "increasing best value within an eBusiness environment in order to reduce development time, integration resource requirements and maintenance costs through reuse and coordination of efforts. The BCM's advantage arises from its simplicity. By adopting and following an intuitive approach for (1) unconstrained conceptual alignment, (2) authoritative source collaboration, (3) layering of business constraints and constructs, and (4) the capture of rationale through templates one gains pragmatic interoperability as well as semantic interoperability. Stakeholders and can incorporate (5) UIDs either during development or align later to exchange precise communication to meet their business objectives."

BCM begins by "establishing and outlining an organization's strategy and tactics for how to achieve exact communications among the stakeholders. The task is expanded to identify and manage your information assets, their associated metadata, context, ontology and design rationale with common template-based mechanisms. These technology-neutral artifacts become the building blocks for assembling reusable components that increase productivity and enable the enterprise to become more agile. The methodology is a solution focused on aligning the semantics of the business through open mechanisms, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) resulting in 'fluid' data that removes the shackles that proprietary vendor solutions place on your enterprise. By facilitating the capture of business targets, best practice patterns, and decision rationale with common mechanisms the enterprise will evolve and be competitive..."

"One objective of the business-centric model is to graphically represent the variety of shared artifacts for reuse, each having different constraints exercised. By applying the right constraints at the right level, and not physicalizing them too soon, the process enables business, not technology to drive the exchange. The result is a far more agile enterprise. Information exchange and proper interoperability are possible if, and only if alignment occurs from the (1) Conceptual, (2) Business, (3) Agreement and (4) Implementation layers... Implementation involves performing in-depth technical requirements analysis of the message and the selected framework driven by the Collaboration Partner Agreement (CPA). It is here where business objects become physical with agreed upon XML tagnames, lengths, header information, etc. In addition to the output of the message, maps are published for possible reuse and aligned concept aliases are registered for later reference..."

Business Centric Interoperability Methodology

BCM is "business centric" in that it:

  • Provides traceability from leaders vision to implementation
  • Aligns the meaning and source of information [using] unconstrained concepts
  • Applies context constraints in two primary levels: target constructs and extensions
  • Captures the rationale in templates for communication and re-use
  • Uses templates to define state and switching based on context
  • Provides ROI: Templates are created by the business user to generate communication artifacts
  • Provides 'help from above' supporting precise communications for Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), between Business Managers/ Technologists, etc.

[from Mike Lubash's presentation at the Sixth International Open Forum on Metadata Registries (January 20 - 24, 2003, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.]

OASIS Business-Centric Methodology TC

BCM Version 1.0 OASIS Standard

OASIS Business-Centric Methodology Specification V1.0. OASIS Standard. May 01, 2006. Edited by David RR Webber. See the announcement. [source PDF]

OASIS Business-Centric Methodology Appendix B: Linking and Switching. OASIS Standard. May 01, 2006. "This appendix defines the BCM V1 Linking and Switching details (context-based switching that occurs at each of the BCM layers within the information architecture, along with those which occur at Conceptual, Business, Extension, and Implementation layers." [source PDF]

[May 05, 2003]   OASIS Forms Business-Centric Methodology Technical Committee.    OASIS has issued a call for participation in a newly formed Business-Centric Methodology Technical Committee. The BCM TC members plan to create a specification which will "provide business managers with a set of clearly defined methods with which to acquire agile and interoperable e-business information systems." The TC proposal calls for taking a minimalist approach, seeking to find the right mix [of solutions] critical to succeed by effectively reaching the target management audience, allowing business people to think in business terms. Crucial to this endeavor is the scope of the TC being focused on agile information interoperability rather than legacy systems integration. BCM also avoids a narrow focus around vendor technology components and instead focuses on the business mechanisms required." The specification design will build upon existing research and technology such as the project work developed at the Department of Defense, Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The BCM TC Co-Chairs are Bruce Peat (eProcess Solutions) and Mike Lubash (DFAS). The first meeting of the BCM Technical Committee will be held on Monday, June 9, 2003 as a teleconference call.

Principal URLs

Articles, Papers, News

  • [May 03, 2006] Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) Ratified as OASIS Standard." - "The OASIS international standards consortium today announced that its members have approved the Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) version 1.0 as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. BCM is a set of layered methods for acquiring interoperable e-business information within communities of interest. The BCM OASIS Standard serves as a road map, enabling organizations to identify and exploit business success factors in a technology-neutral manner, based on open standards. BCM offers a comprehensive approach for reducing unnecessary risk by providing techniques that result in an information architecture for enterprise agility and interoperability. The new OASIS Standard addresses interoperability through the semantic alignment of concepts and layering of constraints, as defined by reusable business templates. 'BCM gives business people the choice to think in business terms — not in techno-babble,' said Peter Fingar, industry expert on business process management and author of the newly released book, Extreme Competition. 'BCM helps managers precisely communicate their business goals among heterogeneous partners as well as layering the appropriate steps that must be applied for a project to succeed. By increasing communication between business partners and their developers, the standard lets enterprises achieve a greater degree of agility than would otherwise be possible.' According to Mike Lubash of the United States Department of Defense (DoD), BCM enables enterprises to align their existing services and systems within common lines of business across the value chain. 'Instead of depending on narrowly focused, vendor-specific products, BCM users can deploy implementations that expand over time and derive maximum benefit from other standards supported within their enterprise,' said Lubash. He co-chairs the OASIS BCM Technical Committee, along with Carl Mattocks of MetLife..."

  • [June 17, 2003] "Becoming NetCentric: Leveraging an Information Network of Communities of Interests, Architectures, and Ontologies." By Bruce Peat (eProcess Solutions). 7 pages. Also available from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website. "Organizations need to take information asset management up a notch. To do this, they need to be opportunistic with their information. Organizations need to take a closer look at how to foster communication among users by promoting the clustering of contextbased communities or Communities of Interests (CoIs). Collectively CoIs are a critical information network topology that reach beyond the scope of the organization to include partners and stakeholders. CoIs allow information to scale globally, persist indefinitely and be distributed to almost any community for adoption. With a netCentric approach, these communities are scoped and managed, allowing for a scaleable alternative to today's typical broad swipes of enterprise architecture and standard language development. These communities allow for alignment of concepts by leveraging the common features and mitigating the differences within a proper size and scope... With the netCentric view, the metadata market is a network of CoIs all interacting in the Network Economy. If your organization has joint ventures, partnerships, outsourcing arrangements, licensing agreements, and/or supply-chain exchanges defined as extended relationships, then your organization should begin to move toward managing your information resources with the network economy model. In this model the individuals are partners establishing relationships as part of the information value-chain. This shift in thinking to this netCentric view is critical in understanding alliances within the organization's real environment. In this model, the metadata supporting the CoIs and business agreements or contracts takes prime importance... Synthesis as opposed to analytical decomposition is a particularly critical part of strategic thinking. Synthesis permits the discovery of the whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. The Business-Centric Methodology (BCM) exploits the synthesis of Communities of Interests, architectures and ontologies to harness tacit knowledge to facilitate communication, sharing and innovation. Understanding how to use this synthesis and the steps outlined to extract order from an organization's chaos through a methodology in a proactive rather than a reactive manner is a means to an organization's success..."

  • "Business First. Business-Centric Methodology for Enterprise Agility and Interoperability." By Mike Lubash (with EM&I and eProcess Solutions). April 04, 2003. 12 pages. "This white paper briefly describes the Business-Centric Methodology for Enterprise Agility and Interoperability that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Chief Information Officer (CIO) is developing to improve interoperability among business users and technologists as well as between Enterprise applications and their respective business partner systems. To better understand the magnitude of the effort required to transform business operations lets first review the key factors that limit or prevent organizations from achieving the degree of interoperability that is necessary for continued growth and improvement..." [source .DOC]

  • [May 06, 2003] "Interoperability Strategy: Concepts, Challenges, and Recommendations." By Industry Advisory Council (IAC) Enterprise Architecture SIG. Concept Level White Paper Developed for the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office (FEA-PMO). April 03, 2003. 31 pages. "The purpose of this paper is to provide some background on the issues underlying the interoperability challenges, to shed some light on potential approaches to dealing with the problem, and to offer some specific recommendations, based on industry experience, that government at all levels can implement to rapidly address this challenge. The Industry Advisory Council (IAC) brings an industry perspective to the issues facing government and offers solutions that have succeeded in commercial settings that may be useful in addressing the issues facing government. Most of the underpinnings for interoperability come from the field of communication. Successful communication relies on three principles: Common Syntax (the structure of the message) Common mechanism, Common Semantics (the meaning of something). XML is becoming a common standard syntax, alternative to ASN.1 and other syntaxes. The common mechanism for communicating between systems has become TCP, supporting higher level communication mechanisms such as HTTP over TCP/IP. But, having a common syntax and common mechanism is not enough. XML is not enough. Interoperability requires that the systems have a common definition of what is to be shared or communicated. We need an infrastructure to support semantic alignment. In Appendix E we show a Homeland Security example which leverages the work at OASIS; Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, on Content Assembly Mechanism (CAM) which uses XML templating to allow users to construct information exchanges... In short, much of the e-Government movement is the evolution from static, undocumented, rigid stovepipe systems to dynamic metadata-driven and navigated agile business lines comprised of reusable components residing in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). The SOA allows the redeploying of legacy applications as XML-encapsulated, trusted components and solutions with native XML logic providing the encapsulation and componentization. The move to e-Government has improved on all government levels; Federal, State and Local. Citizens will increase their usage of online interaction with the government inline with IT investment. This investment, particularly in the areas of interoperability will result in significant taxpayer savings despite the challenge of changing work practices and political wrangling..." Note Appendix C: 'Business-Centric Methodology'. [cache]

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