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T3F - Transitional Technical Task Force

Tuesday Mar 6, 2007 12:00 PM (US Eastern Time, GMT -5)


Beeler, Blobel, Buitendijk, Case, Hammond, Jaffe, Lorenzi, Parker, Walker

Approved Agenda

  1. (05 min) Roll Call & Accept agenda
  2. (50 min) Technical Directorate Review/Advance Recent T3F actions
    (25 min) Technical Directorate Responsibilities & Procedures
    (25 min) TD Sub-groups Names and Composition
  3. (05 min) Next Steps

Next Meeting canceled

Owing to the start of the HL7 Harmonization Meeting at the same time as the regular T3F Meeting, and the fact that several T3F members will be involved in Harmonization, the T3F Meeting for March 13, 2007 is canceled.

Review/Advance Recent T3F Actions with Regard to Technical Directorate

The T3F began to review decisions taken during the last two meetings (February 20 and February 27 with regard to the organization and groupings of the Technical Directorate. We benefited greatly from the participation in this meeting of Drs. Jaffe and Hammond who had not participated in the previous discussions.

Composition and Functioning of the TD

For this discussion, we used two documents -- The discussion in the minutes of February 20, and a revised TD Composition Chart prepared by Virginia Lorenzi. There was general agreement with the decisions of two-weeks ago, but we agreed to a few modifications as follows:

CTO Qualifications

We agreed that the technical competence of the candidate was also a critical parameter. (This had been omitted in the earlier discussion only because it was an "unstated assumption" by most.) We agreed, then that this portion of the TD makeup should read:

The following are principles that should be applied in making a CTO selection, in this order:

  1. A proven consensus builder
  2. Someone who knows and is known to the HL7 Working Group
  3. Likely to have been a Co-Chair or “facilitator”, but not necessarily required
  4. Have a strong understanding or working knowledge of the technology that HL7 defines and is dependent upon.

Support Services representative

Given the decision last week to add "Direct Support" "sub-group" as part of the TD, this representative will be elected by the same pattern and protocol as the representatives from TD, SS and DE sub-groups. (This assertion needs to be verified in future meeting, and is added to "issues" list.)

Additional "roles" required in TD

In discussion it was suggested and agreed that the TD needs a designated Secretary (probably from among the staff participants), and a designated "Vice-Chair (perhaps elected by the TD) who can run meetings and take actions in the absence of the Chair.

Definition and Composition of TD "Sub-groups"

This portion of the discussion focused on the sub-group discussions from last weeks minutes was not contentious, but clearly the T3F has some unease with the way the committees are partitioned into sub-groups. No specific recommendations for change were offered, but the following points were discussed.

Definition of Foundation & Technologies Sub-group

We agreed that the definition of the FT group needs to include those committees with an interest in the "infrastructure" issues and techniques needed to implement HL7 standards, including such things as Security. The following is proposed as a revised definition:

Committees and projects in this space focus on providing the fundamental tools and building blocks that other Committees can use to build the standards, and upon the technology infrastructure that implementers of HL7 standards must manage.

(JTC: Do we want to strengthen this? Instead of using the "soft" word can, should we say "fundamental tools and building blocks that other Committees "shall" use to build the standards? If committees are not compelled to use the foundational building blocks, then are we really standard?)

Duplicate Listing

The Tooling Committee is listed under both the FT group and the Direct Support Group. It should only be in the latter.

Challenge of Creating Sub-groups

After last weeks call, Lorenzi posted a "discussion" note against the minutes. It observed a number of cases in which a particular committee might, arguably, exist in all three groups, and then went on to observe:

A bit of gray is a good thing. - I think one of the main benefits of dividing by three is that it divided management and communication into more manageable chunks. A long time ago, I was part of a reorg where this was done arbitrarily - Team A, Team B, Team C. It worked great. While that might be radical to consider now, the theme of it might be healthy. Let people know that the main purpose is not to categorize, but instead to reduce the amount of people in meetings brainstorming and making decisions so that work can get done. [Emphasis added]

Several people agreed, and also agreed that no division of existing groups can be done without some disagreement among the participants and without some circumstances where a particular assignment can be argued (ad nauseum).

A couple of members stated they would like to propose alternative alignments, and it was agreed that this can happen. It was also noted that the DE group is more than twice the size of the other two, and may be difficult to "manage" for that reason. Suggestions for pruning or re-assignments are welcome.

Harmonization as a Core TD Challenge

In discussion it was agreed that however the sub-groups are defined, and whatever additional relationships may exist between committees, the TD will not be successful in meeting HL7's objectives unless it can assure the harmonization of content and design across HL7 standards.

As a consequence, this notion of required harmonization and shared stewardship must clearly be part of the mission statement of the TD, of the TD sub-groups, and of each TC and SIG within the sub-groups. Overall, it is the TD that must define and manage the processes that bring about such harmonization and then must delegate similar responsibilities to the sub-groups and committees beneath it.

Project Management and TD

The discussion repeated an earlier agreement by the T3F that the TD must have a central role in project management. It is assumed that the project life cycle strategy being developed will be a fundamental process for all HL7 work. The TD will in the future have the responsibilities:

  • to approve projects (after they are vetted in the sub-groups)
  • to initiate projects to carry out its mission (such as harmonization)
  • to oversee the functions of the project management office, and
  • to maintain the project lifecycle definition

Certainly, several of these responsibilities will need to be delegated in whole or in part to other groups.

"Top-down" Projects and Standards Liaisons

This led to a discussion of the role of the TD in launching new projects that may originate outside of HL7 or from other Board-related activities. This has been a "cause for concern" among the volunteers. We agreed that there will be such project requirements in the future, as there have been in the past. The TD certainly must take an active role is assessing such projects, estimating their impact on the Working Group, and advising the Board on how to proceed.

Once the Board or the TD has agreed that such a project is required, then the TD must undertake to present ("sell" if you prefer) these projects to the Working Group.

A related discussion of the role of the TD in dealing with the liaison and collaboration arrangements between HL7 and other standards developing organizations (SDOs) was raised. Here again, the TD must have a role in assessing and making recommendations about such liaisons, and their proposed collaborative projects, before the liaisons and/or projects are "finalized."

Next Steps

No definitive action was taken in this regard, other than to continue refining the TD definition. However, we began accumulating an "decisions/issues" list of items that must come up for T3F vote in the near future.

Decisions/Issues List

  • Is the CTO the TD Chair or an "administrative Officer" who supports the TD?
  • How should the TD Vice-chair be selected?
  • Should the TD representative for the Direct Support sub-group be chosen in the same fashion as the representatives of FT, SS & DE, including the election of an alternate?
  • What should be the "generic" term used to refer to the sub-groups?

Agenda item list (our sand box for future meetings)

Click for T3F Action Item List