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Implementing ISO 15926 in an Organization

Status of this document: Working Draft

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  1. Abstract
  2. Getting Started
  3. Join FIATECH or POSC Caesar - Get Involved in a Project
    1. Make a Map of Your System Landscape
    2. Gather Application Information
  4. Ideas for Implementation
    1. Use Compliance Colors as a Roadmap
    2. Some Example Scenarios
    3. Use BIDG for Ideas
  5. Build a Business Case
  6. Likely Roles for Team Members
  7. Avalon
  8. Next



Getting Started

The very first step is to read the Primer. (Well, actually, you're already reading it already.) But in case you linked directly to this page, start at the beginning. Select the "Primer Introduction" link in the big green box in the upper right hand corner of this page.

It is important to understand that ISO 15926 is a fundamentally different approach to making machines able to talk to each other and convey meaning. In the past we've viewed machine-to-machine communication as a technology problem, building more powerful processors, or writing more artful code. But we ran into the wall of not knowing how to handle the information. ISO 15926 sidesteps the powerful chips and Machiavellian code and focuses on modeling information.

Join FIATECH or POSC Caesar - Get Involved in a Project

Right now (this is being written in the late winter of 2009) is a good time to join FIATECH or POSC Caesar. ISO 15926 is being developed right now. The developers are accessible. If you join, there will be people to assist you getting up to speed. Along with getting help, you may end up helping others, too. This is a good thing.

Outside of working on ISO 15926, many of us are competitors. The natural tendency, then, is to horde information. But if we cooperate, interoperability of information gets easier, projects become easier, and as projects become easier and cheaper, the owners (who in the end, pay for everything) will be able to do more. The pie gets bigger.

Make a Map of Your System Landscape

You will need to know all the individual software applications your organization uses, where they get their input from, and where their output goes. Show all of the information exchanges. Your most important applications will probably already be mapped together either with custom programming or commercial middleware. Other information exchanges might be made manually with manual keyin every time, or exchange files in a neutral format, or perhaps ad hoc software. Show all of them, even if they seem to be working properly.

Gather Application Information

Dig into each application and understand the information it deals with.

  • Document the schema - catalogue what's there.
  • Uncover any special requirements. For instance, uncover any relationships that have to be maintained.
  • Understand what all the data items mean. Look for implied attributes. For instance, if an application was written for an organization that always used Imperial units of measurement, the original developer many not have thought to explicitly store Fahrenheit as the units of measurement.

You may not have to catalogue every data item in all of your applications but you do need to know everything about the information movements that you want to automate.

Ideas for Implementation

Use Compliance Colors as a Roadmap

If you have read the previous section on Compliance Colors? you will know that there are a number of steps and decisions to make when implementing ISO 15926. These form a sort of roadmap from no compliance to full compliance.

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Figure 2 - ISO 15926 Roadmap

To get an idea of where to start, read the entire Compliance document. Here are some things to consider:

  • Which templates and reference data content to use, from simple "dictionary level" naming to fully Part2-explicit-Part7 references to all content.
  • Whether to use reference content that is standardized within one enterprise, within industry communities, or with standards bodies such as ISO.
  • Which physical form to use to represent content at interfaces file exchanges to web-service API's, from XML schema to RDF-OWL representations.
  • The amount of content to support, both "payload" and "management metadata".

Some Example Scenarios

Here are some examples to help you look for an opportunity to improve an information exchange by using ISO 15926. Preferably, the entire information exchange should be within your organization, as opposed to automating an exchange with a business partner. Choose something simple to start with if you have a choice.

The first three examples involve mapping applications together using ISO 15926 Part 4 (ISO 1596-4):

The fourth example involves working with an external organization:

Use BIDG for Ideas

If you need some more ideas, you might look at the Business Interfaces Definition Guide (BIDG) aka Handover Guide. It lists many of the information transfer needs and interfaces.

Build a Business Case

The very first line in this Primer explains why we need ISO 15926:

So we can exchange complex plant and project information easier and cheaper.

So if ISO 15926 actually accomplishes this, it shouldn't be too difficult to build a business case. Here are some ideas:

  • Look at your system landscape.
    • Which applications are linked?
    • What could you do differently if more of them, or all of them, were able to exchange information easily?
  • What does it cost your organization to maintain the existing links between applications?
  • Is your organization forgoing opportunities to upgrade individual applications because doing so may break links to other applications?

All of these questions lead to justification to implement ISO 15926. Basically, you are counting the cost, in both financial and business efficiency terms, of the status quo. You will likely end up with something in one of the following categories:

  • Increase Reliability - For instance, if your current method of interoperability requires manually rekeying information between applications. If you map your applications to ISO 15926-4 they will be able to exchange information automatically.
  • Saving Money - For instance, if you have to repeatedly map one application to other applications. If you use ISO 15926 you only have to map it once more.
  • Saving Time - For instance, if you repeatedly have to map applications to other, external, applications in a short period of time. If you map to ISO 15926, the application will be ready to exchange information with any other ISO 15926-compliant application.
  • Reduce Maintenance - For instance, if you currently use custom maps to move information between applications and you have to continually revise the maps because of version changes in the linked application software. If, instead, you map each application to ISO 15926-4 and the application changes, you will only have to revise the map to ISO 15926-4, none of the other maps will have to change.
  • Interoperability of Internal Applications - For instance, if your organization runs many proprietary applications that have to talk to each other, instead of mapping each of them together one pair at a time, map each to ISO 15926.
  • Experience - For instance, if you anticipate having to implement ISO 15926 in the future, you can do a small project to map two applications together using ISO 15926-4. You will learn enough to be able to judge the impact of implementing ISO 15926 on a larger scale.

Likely Roles for Team Members

There are a number of roles that can be filled, depending on which part of ISO 15926 is being implemented. For instance, to implement ISO 15926 at the dictionary compliance level, only the first three roles would be needed. As you can see, none of them require very much ISO 15926-specific knowledge. As you increase your understanding of ISO 15926, you can engage more or the roles.

In theory all of the roles can all be filled by one person. Alternatively, if the project is large enough, one role can be split between several people. The first three, below, are typical of any software development project; the rest are particular to ISO 15926.

Application Expert

This person needs to know all of your software applications generally, and in particular how to get information into them and out of them.

If your organization has a large base of custom software, one of your developers would be a good candidate. If your organization primarily uses commercial software, an administrator for one of those systems would be a good choice.

Subject Matter Expert

This is the person who knows what your business does. He will work primarily as a resource for the Information Modeler to give context to all the terminology and plant objects. For instance, the word pressure will show up in many places. The Subject Matter Expert will have to know all the subtle differences.

If your organization is a refinery or petrochemical plant, a good candidate would be a process engineer, or someone who knows a great deal about all of the chemical and physical processes, and all of the equipment. If your organization is an EPC, a good candidate would be a computer-literate Project Engineer who is familiar with all of your work processes, and has an understanding of all engineering disciplines.

This person will end up being a user of ISO 15926 to do production work, for example, creating forms or spreadsheets that collect and share data. It would be good to learn about ISO 15926 Templates to a basic level, and how to use the RDS/WIP to look up classes.

Network and Database Expert

This person will create the IT Infrastructure that the ISO 15926 components will use. This person will need to know how to set up web services, how to create a database, and will have to dissect the new iRING software published by the Camelot project. This role overlaps with Infrastructure Coder, below, which will be required if your organization publishes software. This role, Network and Database Expert is required for all implementations of ISO 15926.

An existing network administrator is an obvious candidate.

Shallow Information Modeler

This person will define terminology and relationships (templates) for others to use. A significant portion of day-to-day work will involve mapping, for instance, between ISO 15926 systems and non-ISO 15926 systems.

Design engineers with some formal information systems training, or software engineers with a strong interest in the end use of applications will be good choices.

Good training would be learning about ISO 15926 Templates to a basic level, how to use the RDS/WIP to look up classes, then go on to learn how to prepare submissions.

Deep Information Modeler

This person will define ISO 15926 data and definitions as baseline features in software.

Candidates will have a formal background in information systems analysis and predicate logic. Good candidates are those who have a strong background in information modeling and are comfortable with tools like Entity-Relationship Diagrams, Object Relationship Mapping, and Unified Modeling Language.

This person will need a thorough understanding of ISO 15926 Templates, a thorough understanding of Part 2, especially concepts like Temporal Whole-part modeling.

Infrastructure Coder

This person will support ISO 15926 data and definitions as baseline features in software. If your organization writes software that uses ISO 15926 to exchange data, this will be a high-profile position. If your organization does not write software, this position might not be required.

In addition to a formal background in information systems, candidates will need a strong understanding of RDF/OWL, and how to use SPARQL in order to extract information from RDS/WIP. Practical knowledge of Web Services, Software as a Service, Representational State Transfer, and the ability to dissect the new iRING software will be very useful.

This person will need a thorough understanding of ISO 15926 Templates and how they relate to RDF/OWL.


The Avalon project, launched in the summer of 2009, had a goal of providing a publicly-available repository of detailed information on how to get started with ISO 15926.




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