Difference between revisions of "T3F Cologne Deliverable"

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The makeup of the proposed Technical Directorate is illustrated in the following chart.  It includes ten voting members -- six elected representatives, two Board-appointed positions (the CTO and a liaison), and up to two TD-appointed positions.  It also has a non-voting secretary, to be assigned by HQ, and other staff support positions.  Specifics of the election processes, terms, etc. are in following sub-sections.
The makeup of the proposed Technical Directorate is illustrated in the following chart.  It includes ten voting members -- six elected representatives, two Board-appointed positions (the CTO and a liaison), and up to two TD-appointed positions.  It also has a non-voting secretary, to be assigned by HQ, and other staff support positions.  Specifics of the election processes, terms, etc. are in following sub-sections.
====TD Membership====
====TD Membership====

Revision as of 16:47, 25 April 2007

HL7 Technical Directorate - It's Mission, Responsibilities, Composition and Formation


This document provides specific recommendations from the Technical Transition Task Force (T3F) to the HL7 Board. It includes a complete definition of the Technical Directorate (TD), its composition and relationships, and proposes a plan to elect and establish the Technical Directorate to allow its first meeting at the September 2007 Working Group Meeting in Atlanta.


The T3F began work in earnest at the Winter Working Group Meeting in January 2007. The T3F met three times face-to-face at that meeting and has held a conference call every week but one since then. The group used a number of sources in its efforts -- Strategic Initiative documents, ORC reports, work from the project life-cycle team, etc. In addition, the group has benefited greatly by having consistent attendance at its meetings from the TSC (Quinn and Hammond), the ARB (Walker) and the project life-cycle group (McCaslin), and wishes to thank each of these groups for their support.

Early on in its efforts, the T3F determined that its primary initial task was to provide a complete definition of the roles and composition of the Technical Directorate that could be adopted at the May Working Group Meeting. This would afford the opportunity to review these recommendations in Cologne and allow the Technical Directorate to be formed as rapidly as possible thereafter.

Status of this Document

The T3F regards this document as a draft of a "contract" between the Technical Directorate and the HL7 Board of Directors. It should be a "living" document that evolves as the TD evolves. It should not be replaced by a "Charter" for the Technical Directorate, but rather the Charter should be drawn from this document and evolve as this document and the TD itself evolves.


Mission Statement

The HL7 Technical Directorate oversees and coordinates the technical effort contributed by the HL7 volunteers who make up the HL7 Working Group. Its mission is to assure that the efforts of the Working Group are focused on the overall HL7 mission established by the HL7 Board.

The Technical Directorate and the HL7 Working Group operate in such a way so as to:

  • respect the contributions and ideas of the talented individuals who make up the Working Group;
  • maintain an effective focus on the goals of HL7;
  • assure that the all major decisions are based on consensus of the stakeholders;
  • maximize sharing and "re-use" of work products between elements of the Working Group;
  • use project management to assure that project goals are articulated and met;
  • reduce competition and conflict between the elements of the Working Group; and
  • assure that HL7 standards are developed on a solid architectural foundation that assures consistency and interoperability.

To accomplish this, the Technical Directorate criteria must focus on three core objectives -- assuring the continuity and vitality of the HL7 volunteer-based Working Group; maintaining coherent inter-operable standards while minimizing duplication of effort; and providing sound consensus-based standards that meet the needs and schedule requirements of HL7's clients.

Success Criteria

The Technical Directorate will be successful if HL7 members can easily find answers to the following sorts of questions:

  • What is HL7 doing in the area of xxx? Where xxx is an area of interest to a member
    • what publications exist?
    • what active projects / work-items are there?
    • what committee is responsible for that area?
  • What is happening on this project?
    • When will it deliver?
    • What can I do to make that faster / more likely to deliver on time?
    • What has happened recently (is it really active?, has it delivered on schedule?) What is happening to this publication?
  • How do I know what to do at a WGM?
  • What is the status of a particular HL7 specification or document?
    • Who is using / plans to use this publication?
    • What feedback was received to this DSTU?
    • What change proposals are open for this publication?
    • Who maintains this document, and where do I send comments / questions
    • What is the ballot history for this document (when was it balloted, and what were the comments and resolution, and what was the ballot pool)
    • Are there any plans to produce a revision for this document?

Defining success criteria in this way shows how the TD is mandated to expose the information that is needed for the board and membership to be able to plan effectively and to support the promotion of the consensus-based products. It also underpins the importance of work reuse, and only having as many projects and committees as are needed. Finally it defines success in a way that reflects the questions that led to the formation of the TD.


This section is based on Strategic Initiative documents, on-going revision by the T3F, the Mission statement above, and consideration of the stated responsibilities of the Technical Steering Committee as documented in HL7's Bylaws and the Policies and Procedures Manual. These responsibilities are shared, as noted below, with the four Steering Divisions (SD) (sub-groups of committees) that report to the Technical Directorate.

Oversees Execution of Standards Development

Assures that the efforts of the Working Group (WG) are effectively focused on accomplishing the product and services strategy set forth by the Board.
  • Participates in development of an HL7 Product and Services strategy for adoption by the HL7 Board
  • Oversees the TD Steering Divisions (SD) in the establishment and management of projects and project teams to accomplish the product and services strategy set by the Board. To that end, it works through the SDs to:
    • Approve new work groups based on priority projects
    • Dissolve work groups no longer required based on the HL7 Products and Services strategy
    • Works with sub-groups to align and prioritize projects in accordance with the products and services strategy
    • Working with the subgroups, helps to ensure the availability of project resources
      • helps with resource provision or recruitment (people, rooms, tools, etc)
      • includes ensuring the continuity, vitality, and effectiveness of the HL7 volunteer-based Working Group
  • Approve, monitor, and perhaps intervene in overall product development
    • Works with the SDs and the PMO to oversee the tracking of projects to meet HL7 objectives. The Steering Divisions will function to assure that they or the committees under them set milestones, monitor and ensure that quality assurance has been done
  • Performs top-level review and authorizations as specified in the formal development process:
    • Working with the SDs, reviews, approves, and prioritizes requests for new projects.
    • Working with the SDs, recommends project probation or dissolution to the Board
    • Sets remit for ARB and Project Management Office and serves as escalation point for issues not resolved at the committee or SD level.
    • ensures that quality checks in the project development process are satisfied.
    • Reviews and approves requests from Technical Committees to initiate a ballot and serves as escalation point for ballot response handling.

Provides a Coherent Architecture and Development Process

Establishes (or reviews) the Technical Architecture, the development methodologies, and the work processes to be used by the WG in developing HL7 consensus-based standards specifications
  • has overall responsibility for the development and adherence to an HL7 Technical Architecture and the development, maintenance, and execution of an HL7 standards development process
    • working through SDs, makes sure that architecture and process is developed, communicated (documented, etc), maintained and enhanced.
      • through Committees such as MnM, Vocabulary, and PIC as well as the ARB.
  • defines and manages international harmonization mechanism
  • ensures that the balloting of any HL7 specification, or portion thereof, is carried out in accordance with HL7 Bylaws and ANSI rules.

Oversees the Technical Operations of the Working Group

Assures that the WG works smoothly together and covers the work scope in a consistent manner.
  • Ensures that Working Group policies and procedures and bylaws are followed
    • With the SDs, oversees execution of procedures for committee creation, dissolution, and co-chair elections.
    • ensures that meetings and calls are carried out according to policy
  • Oversees continuous quality process
  • Works through SDs to identify cross-domain and cross-function gaps, overlaps, discrepancies, potentials for collaboration, and conflicts and recommends resolution
  • responsible for any official interpretation of the HL7 standards.
    • resolves conflicts within the Working Group and prioritizes resources according to project priority (example, room balancing at WGMs)
    • ensures the impartial handling of substantive and procedural

complaints regarding any action or inaction as related to the production of HL7 specifications.

Primary Communication Vehicle for the Technical Operations of HL7

Serves as technical authority of HL7, communicating status and guidelines regarding standards and operations.
  • serves as technical escalation point for any questions related to the technical operations of HL7
  • reports to the Board, the WGM, and the membership on Technical operations news, status, and issues as appropriate
  • responsible for any official interpretation of the HL7 standards.


The T3F spent several meetings deliberating the appropriate composition and style of functioning for the Technical Directorate. This section reflects the results of those discussions, and addresses three topics:

The order of these topics is arbitrary and the discussion will, of needs, include both forward and backward references. The T3F did not attack any of these topics de novo. In every circumstance, we built on the guidance provided by earlier Strategic Initiative, ORC and Transition documents. We sought to recognize the principles and objectives that underlay each of those documents and to maintain those principles and objectives while improving, we hope, the resulting framework.

HL7 Committee Structure

The HL7 Working Group is made up of a number of volunteer-driven Committees and SIGs that have been highly successful, to both their own and to HL7's credit and benefit. Simultaneously, however, as the numbers of groups expanded, their breadth, number and diversity posed major challenges for coordination and collaboration between them. Discussion and debate on such issues in the forum of the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) became difficult and unproductive in recent years, and failures in coordination have begun to threaten the effectiveness of HL7.

The challenge of the Strategic Initiative was to address these coordination and collaboration issues while retaining the essential vitality of a Working Group made up of and driven by the best, brightest and most dedicated medical informaticists and information scientists available. The essence of the Strategic Initiative proposal was to revise the leadership of the Working Group from a single TSC with representation from each Committee and SIG to a two-level hierarchy of a Technical Directorate (TD) and a small set of Steering Divisions (SD, a new term). This was the foundation from which the T3F developed this proposal.

The starting point for this discussion was a previously developed Strategic Initiative document titled //"Creation of the Transitional Technical Task Force (T3F)". The final proposal can be summarized with the "nested list" of bullet points at the end of this paragraph. The remainder of the topics in this "HL7 Committee Structure" section discuss the rationale and principles behind this proposal, specific responsibilities of the TDs and SDs, and the definition and committees in each Steering Division. The proposed hierarchy is:

  • HL7 Board
    • Technical Directorate -
      6 elected voting representatives, 4 appointed voting members
      TD-elected Chair
      • Foundation & Technologies Steering Division
        9 existing TCs and SIGs
        2 Elected SD Co-Chairs plus Co-Chairs of TCs & SIGs in SD
      • Structure & Semantic Design Steering Division
        10 existing TCs & SIGs
        2 Elected SD Co-Chairs plus Co-Chairs of TCs & SIGs in SD
      • Domain Experts Steering Division
        17 existing TCs and SIGs
        2 Elected SD Co-Chairs plus Co-Chairs of TCs & SIGs in SD
      • Technical & Support Services Steering Division
        9 TD-appointed Committees (7 formerly Board-appointed, 2 new)
        2 Elected SD Co-Chairs plus Co-Chairs of Committees in SD

Organizing Principle

During its deliberations, the T3F made the following observations:

  • HL7 members join committees because of their personal (or corporate) interest in the subject matter content of the committee, regardless of whether their interest stems from academic, development or implementation activities.
  • The original break-out of committees (provided in the SI document) aggregates the committees by commonality of what they produce and the relationship of that work product to the other Working Group committees. The T3F found this is to be a sound approach.
  • One of the key activities of the TD will be to identify and reduce those places where committees are "stepping on each others toes" or "reinventing the wheel." Coordination within the proposed Steering Divisions will facilitate this activity.
  • The existing relationship between TCs and SIGs may need to be "re-thought", because the Steering Division strategy will clearly place a number of SIGS in a Steering Division that is different from that to which their current "parent TC" is assigned.
  • It will be important to not disrupt existing collaboration while establishing this organization, and it is clear that many topics may best be managed, in "matrix fashion" between committees in two or three Steering Divisions.
  • A number of committees clearly produce products that fit in two or even three of the Steering Divisions. This may be effective, or it lead the TD to consider whether to recommend these groups be split.

Ultimately, the T3F recognized that the organization as proposed is imperfect, not by design, but by the nature of the HL7 Committees and SIGs that do not permit simplistic classifications. Regardless of what is proposed, someone will question the result. The key element however is to establish the three-tier structure first, gain the advantages of focusing critical organizational thinking into smaller meetings so that the work can get done, and then evolve the structure over time.

Technical Directorate Role

The technical Directorate (TD) will be the focal point for decision making, harmonization, issue resolution, project and committee creation and dissolution within the Working Group. The TD will be a representative consensus body of elected and appointed members. (Specifics are in a later section of this document.)

The T3F notes that however the Steering Divisions are defined, and whatever additional relationships may exist between committees, the Technical Directorate 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, the notion of required harmonization and shared stewardship must clearly be a fundamental principle of the TD, of the Steering Divisions, and of each TC and SIG. 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 Steering Divisions and to the committees.

Further, 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 incur responsibilities:

  • to approve projects (after they are vetted in the Steering Divisions)
  • 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 life cycle definition

Certainly, several of these responsibilities will need to be delegated in whole or in part to the Steering Divisions or to specific committees.

Steering Division Definition and Composition

In keeping with the original Strategic Initiative document, T3F proposes to divide the existing Technical Committees, Special Interest Groups and Board-appointed Committees into four functional groups called Steering Divisions (SD). Each Steering Division will be a committee in its own right made up of the Co-Chairs of the groups in the SD. It is expected that each SD will meet face-to-face during each Working Group Meeting and will conduct conference calls, as needed. A partial list of specific SD responsibilities includes:

  • nominate and elect the representative from that SD to the TD, who will also serve as a Co-Chair of the SD
  • nominate and elect an Alternate representative to the TD, who will also serve as a Co-Chair of the SD
  • review proposed projects and make recommendations for action to the TD
  • monitor project status within the SD
  • review proposals to create, modify or dissolve Committees and SIGs in their SD and make recommendations for action on same to the TD
  • identify coordination issues within and between the committees of the SD and resolve these or recommend resolutions to the TD
  • identify coordination issues between SDs and their committees and recommend resolutions to the TD
  • undertake harmonization tasks as delegated by the TD
Foundation & Technologies Steering Division

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

  • Conformance and Implementation
  • Infrastructure & Messaging
  • Implementable Technology Specifications (ITS)
  • Java
  • Modeling & Methodology
  • Security
  • Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)
  • Templates
  • Vocabulary
  • Related multi-committee projects:
    • Dynamic Model
    • Harmonization
    • HL7 TermInfo
Structure & Semantic Design Steering Division

Committees and project in this space focus on creation of basic patterns and common messages that could exist on their own, but are mostly used by others.

  • Clinical Context Object Workgroup (CCOW)
  • Clinical Decision Support
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR)
  • Financial Management
  • Genomics
  • Orders & Observations
  • Patient Administration
  • Personnel Management
  • Scheduling & Logistics
  • Structured Documents
  • Related multi-committee projects:
    • Clinical Statements
    • Common Message Element Types (CMETs)
Domain Experts Steering Division

Committees and projects in this space focus on creation of messages, services, documents using many of the common structures in place, yet expanding it in key areas as well.

  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Attachments
  • Cardiology
  • Clinical Guidelines
  • Community Based Health Services
  • Emergency Care
  • Government Projects
  • Health Care Devices
  • Imaging Integration
  • Laboratory
  • Patient Care
  • Patient Safety
  • Pediatrics Data Standards
  • Public Health Emergency Response (PHER)
  • Pharmacy
  • Regulated Clinical Research Information Management (RCRIM)
Technical & Support Services Steering Division

These committees are currently Board-appointed. In future, the T3F recommends that they be appointed by the TD, subject to Board approval. The committees will elect their own Co-chairs, subject to TD approval. For the most part, these groups are functioning on volunteer effort, although each has strong support from a designated staff liaison. The primary feature of these committees is that their projects and products provide direct support to the Technical Committees and SIGs of the Working Group and thereby enable the Working Group to function efficiently.

  • Education
  • Electronic Services
  • Implementation
  • Marketing Committee (T3F needs consultation during the Cologne meeting with the Board and the Marketing Committee to ascertain whether inclusion of the Marketing Committee in this Steering Division is appropriate)
  • Process Improvement Committee (PIC)
  • Product and Services Committee (T3F needs consultation during the Cologne meeting with the Product & Services Committee to ascertain whether inclusion of the Products and Services in this Steering Division is appropriate)
  • Project Services -- a new group that will take responsibility for the Project Life Cycle and will serve as the primary support for the PMO
  • Publishing
  • Tooling
Architecture Review Board

The T3F believes the Architecture Review Board (ARB) fulfills a critical mission that must continue under the TD. To that end, the T3F is proposing that the ARB become a TD-appointed committee that "stands alone" (independent of the Steering Divisions), and (see below) that the ARB have a voting representative on the TD. Normally this representative will be the ARB Chair, but in the circumstance that the ARB Chair is already a member of the TD, a different ARB member will also be named to the TD.

Composition and Functioning of TD

The makeup of the proposed Technical Directorate is illustrated in the following chart. It includes ten voting members -- six elected representatives, two Board-appointed positions (the CTO and a liaison), and up to two TD-appointed positions. It also has a non-voting secretary, to be assigned by HQ, and other staff support positions. Specifics of the election processes, terms, etc. are in following sub-sections.


TD Membership

Steering Division Representatives

Remains to be extracted from minutes. Include:

  1. Tabulate the membership, as represented in the chart
  2. Election process and timing for SD and Affiliate reps
  3. TD appointed positions
  4. Terms# Election of TD Chair
  5. Decision making and Consensus Decisions
  6. Other?

Relationship of TD to CTO

In the course of its deliberations, the T3F paid particular attention to the role of a Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Ultimately, the T3F came to the conclusion that the relationship between the CTO and the TD should mirror the relationship between the CEO and the Board of Directors each acting assure the success of the other.

This decision was predicated on the assumption by the T3F that the TD would participate in the Board's selection of the CTO and that the following principles will be applied in making a CTO selection, in priority 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.

In that context, the following motion was unanimously adopted by the T3F.

T3F Motion Unanimously Adopted April 3, 2007


  • The task of over-seeing and coordinating the technical activities of Health Level Seven requires the full-time attention of a knowledgeable professional, "Technical Officer";
  • The effective coordination of the various committees and SIGs requires a restructuring of these into three or four sub-groups reporting to an elected Technical Directorate;
  • The Technical Directorate must assure the continued involvement and support of HL7's Core Resource - volunteer-driven Working Group; and
  • The success of the Technical Directorate and the success of the "Technical Officer" are inextricably intertwined, and, further, are essential to HL7's success;

THEREFORE, the Transitional Technical Task Force RESOLVES to recommend:

  • The "Technical Officer" should be recruited to work with and support the Technical Directorate in its responsibilities to oversee HL7's technical activities;
  • The "Technical Officer" should report to the CEO and the HL7 Board, and should be a voting member of the Technical Directorate.
  • The Chair of the Technical Directorate should be be elected by the voting members of the Technical Directorate, and selected from within the members of the Technical Directorate.
  • The Technical Directorate and its Chair should delegate responsibilities and operational decision-making (to be defined later) to the "Technical Officer."
  • The Technical Directorate should have a role in recruiting and evaluating the "Technical Officer."


Clearly, the central role that the Technical Directorate will play within HL7 demands an understanding of the relationships of that group to the rest of HL7. To this end, the T3F has created the following chart.


The Technical Directorate (TD) and its four Steering Divisions (SD) are shown in relationship to the Board of Directors (BOD) on the right. The TD and SDs make up the "Working Group" of HL7, and the relationships between them are discussed in earlier sections of this document.

The left hand portion represents the employees of HL7 and the Staff of AMG, and these relationships are shown for example here and are not considered further in this report.

The committees and SIGs that make up three of the four SDs are entirely made up of volunteers and are formed by petition to and approval of the TD. (At present by the TSC.) The fourth SD, the Technical & Support Services Steering Division (ST on the chart) is made up of committees appointed by the TD, chaired by a volunteer, but made up of a mix of volunteers, employees and staff. Hence, they sit on the boundary between the Employees and Volunteers, as do the Board-appointed committees.

The most critical concept exposed by this chart, is that the TD, SDs and committees on the right, and the Staff and Employees on the left cannot be successful in their endeavors without robust productive collaboration between them. HL7 has always been fortunate to have minimal contention and maximum cooperation between its employees, staff and volunteers, and this T3F report is predicated on the continuation of that relationship.

Decision Making Practices (Jim)

Tactical Plan to Establish Technical Directorate

The T3F recommends the following time-line to the HL7 Board for the establishment of the Technical Directorate. If the composition and election processes included in this report are approved by the Board before or during the Board's June Conference call, this schedule provides a reasonable time-line for carrying out the TD elections in time to allow the TD to hold its first meeting during the September 2007 Working Group Meeting in Atlanta. (Note that the staging of the nominations and elections are designed to allow the Affiliate constituencies to know who are the Steering Division Representatives before the Affiliate election process begins.)

May 2007 Working Group Meeting

  • T3F to present current recommendations for the formation of the TD.

May 31, 2007

June through August 2007

  • Three weeks for nominations of SD Representatives. (open June 5; close June 24)
  • Three weeks for election of SD Representatives. (close July 15)
  • Three weeks for nomination of Affiliate Representatives. (close Aug 5)
  • Three weeks for Affiliate Representative election.(close August 26)

September 2007

  • Board appoints its representative any time prior to September.

September 2007 Working Group Meeting

  • First official meeting of the TD. TD to elect a chair.
  • Terms will be staggered by drawing lots.

Project Plan for Architecture (Berndt)