Version 20 (modified by gordonrachar, 14 years ago)

--

We Need to Focus on Business Processes

Status of this document: Ready for Cold Eyes Review

This document is open for feedback, please post questions and comments in the forum at the bottom of this page. You will need a login to post in the forum.

[Input Requested: This page is a bit sparse. GPR]


Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Traditional Approach: Focus on Technology
    1. Example: Populate a PO Directly From 3D Model Database
    2. What is the Problem?
  3. Alternative: Focus on Business Processes
    1. Information Modeling
    2. ISO 15926 is a Robust Standard
    3. Growth Opportunity
  4. Next

Abstract

The barrier to interoperability between software applications is not technology. The barrier is business processes.

Traditional Approach: Focus on Technology

Every organization today is under relentless pressure to reduce costs. One way to reduce costs is to increase productivity, and nowadays, this is usually accomplished by automating manual tasks by writing some computer application.

Error: Macro Image(BusinessProcess01.JPG, 400px) failed
Attachment 'wiki:ISO15926Primer_BusinessProcesses: BusinessProcess01.JPG' does not exist.

Fig 1 - Problem Space

Plant design nowadays involves work processes that (more-or-less) take information from one or more software applications, transform it somehow with a manual process, and enter the results into another application. These work processes may range from precise, documented procedures to heuristics and rules of thumb that "people are just supposed to know". In most organizations there are hundreds of them.

Example: Populate a PO Directly From 3D Model Database

There are several 3D plant modeling applications available commerically. There are also several purchasing applicataions available commercially. But none of the purchasing applications, out of the box, will populate a purchase order directly from any of the 3D modelling applications. But building purchase orders based on the contents of a 3D model is something every EPC has to do a great many times. In order to do this, every organization has to develop work processes for selecting a range of objects from the 3D model, extracting a material report in some format, transforming the report into something the purchasing application can understand, then importing it to a purchasing application.

If this sort of thing has to be done often enough, there is an opportunity to increase productivity and reduce errors by automating it. Using today's technology there are a great many ways to do the automation:

  • Commerical Middleware
  • Custom database alterations (Oracle, SQL Server)
  • Custom programming (C, Java, Visual Basic, ...)
  • Neutral file (Excel, Notepad)
  • XML Neutral file

What is the Problem?

The problem here is similar to that of point-to-point mapping, of which we have written at length elsewhere in this Primer.

  • The costs of setup and configuration
  • Repeating costs for setup and configuration
  • The cost of interpretation (because meaning is often inferred from the context)
  • The complexity is exposed (you have to do it from scratch each time)
  • The new global, distributed work execution model amplifies the problem
  • Aging Workforce (these are the people who understand the context of legacy systems)

Alternative: Focus on Business Processes

Error: Macro Image(BusinessProcess02.JPG, 400px) failed
Attachment 'wiki:ISO15926Primer_BusinessProcesses: BusinessProcess02.JPG' does not exist.

Fig 2 - A New Approach

The traditional approach is to automate an existing work process. The better way is to focus on the business task we want to accomplish. In the purchasing order example above, the task is to get descriptions of certain components in a 3D model into a purchase order. If we solve the problem by modeling the information in a way that preserves the meaning of the data values, we will be able to use the solution more than once. It will take longer to model the information in this way, but we will never have to do it again just because the software vendor issued a new version, or because we want to use different software on a new project.

Information Modeling

Admitedly, the statement "modeling the information in a way that preserves the meaning of the data values" is not a trivial statement. It is kind of like saying "It's easy for pigs to fly, all they have to do is learn how to grow wings." When you get under the hood with information modeling, it starts to look like Artificial Intelligence. After all, we want a machine to be able to read any random data sheet and understand the context, the meaning, just as well as a human being.

Fortunatley, this pig can indeed learn how to grown wings.

ISO 15926 is a Robust Standard

If an organization wanted to model its information it would not have to use ISO 15926. For instance, it could create its own standard. But there are considerable advantages to using ISO 15926:

  • It would not have to design the system of recording knowledge.
  • It would not have to design every entity itself, it could use entities designed by others, using some objects verbatim if appropriate, or extending existing objects and only have to add the differences.
  • Leverage the work of a great number of people, from many industries world wide.
  • The resulting applications will interoperate with other ISO 15926-enabled applictions.

Information Modeling is not an exact science. It is unlikely that two organizations modeling their own information will get every object exactly the same, simply by coincidence. However this will not stop applictions from being able to work together. The object classes of ISO 15926 are public and extensible, with the extentions (optionally) being public as well. Two objects that are extentsions of the same class will be able to share information about their common attributes.

Growth Opportunity

ISO 15926 is gaining taction world wide with a number of Owner/Operators, EPCs, Equipment Manfuacturers, and Software Vendors. As it becomes mainstream, organizations will want to make their internal applications complient with the standard. There will be a demand for skilled information modelers who have a background in plant engineering and operations. Information modeling is taught typically to Computer Science majors, not Engineering majors. But Computer Science majors cannot look at descriptions of plant objects and know whether or not they make sense.

The last section of this Primer, Getting Started with ISO 15926, will discuss some resorces for learning Information Modeling and strategies for getting involved in ISO 15926.

Next

There are a number of issues associated with the need for interoperability, or with current attempts at interoperability. This section shows how ISO 15926 will help.

How ISO 15926 Will Make Your Life Easier


Discussion

You have no rights to see this discussion.

Home
About PCA
Reference Data Services
Projects
Workgroups