Why Should My End-User Company Join OMG?
A White Paper on the Benefits (and Total Costs) of
By Jon Siegel, Ph.D.
Vice President, Technology Transfer
Object Management Group
November 19, 2010 (PDF)
A stable Information Technology (IT) environment provides a huge
boost to a company’s performance but, left uncontrolled, IT can impose
tremendous costs in both money and lost productivity. Companies that
attempt to control cost by locking into a computing infrastructure and
middleware platform beyond its lifetime lose interoperability with their
customers and suppliers when they move on to the “Next Best Thing”, and
cede to their competition the advantage of better, faster, and more
capable data processing when everyone else moves on to the next
generation of IT systems.
Computer industry standards can stabilize a particular platform for
as long as it lasts in the marketplace, but most platforms’ lifetimes
are too short to provide the Return on Investment (ROI) that IT must
yield to justify expenditures. To maximize ROI, companies need a
coordinated set of standards and applications that work together on
multiple operating systems programmed in multiple programming
languages, connecting multiple middleware platforms and
networking environments, even bridging the gap between the end of one
platform’s lifetime and the beginning of the next. Fortunately, there is
an organization provides this standards environment today: The Object
Management Group (OMG). OMG’s multi-platform specifications address the
heart of a business’s requirements, extending the lifetime of
applications and infrastructure to maximize IT ROI while maintaining the
flexibility needed in today’s constantly-changing technological world.
How do leading companies know how to manage their IT in the way that
maximizes their ROI? Everyone knows who these companies are. They
install the winning technology ’way ahead of the competition, but never
waste a dime on dead-end alternatives no matter how much they were hyped
in the press. Their applications all work together – the legacy
mainframe applications that run their business interoperate with the
newer Internet servers that extend their reach into the electronic
marketplace. That is, they drive their IT; they don’t let it drive them.
What do they know that you don’t?
These companies model applications before they build them, ensuring
as much as possible that their development and integration projects will
succeed. Their corporate metamodel supports company-wide data sharing,
allowing them to mine customer data – their most valuable growing asset
– to increase profits. They know that architecture pays back (reducing
overall IT spending by 25% according to a META group survey, as we’ll
discuss soon), so they form an architecture board to coordinate IT
infrastructure across their enterprise. They design smooth
interoperability into their corporate architecture, which is based on
industry standards. And, they know what upcoming standards are going to
say in advance because they write them, unlike their competitors
who wait for them to be published and then read them. And,
chances are, they write them at the OMG.
The Object Management Group (OMG) is an open-membership,
not-for-profit, international organization of information system
vendors, software vendors, and IT end-user companies. OMG members,
working within a formal process that assures fairness and gives each
company an equal vote, adopt and maintain specifications covering every
aspect of software development from analysis and design, through
development, to deployment and maintenance.
OMG’s hundreds of member companies (see the current list at
http://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/apps/membersearch.pl) include both
vendors and end-users of software and development tools. The vendor
companies have “skin in the game”; their bottom line depends on OMG
specifications so it’s easy to see why these companies join OMG and
participate in setting the organization’s specifications.
But why are so many end-user companies members too? They don’t sell
software or development tools, so their motives can’t be the same as the
vendors. What do they know that you don’t, and what advantages do they
gain from their memberships?
We’ve already suggested the answer: Our end-user members are the
leaders; the companies that drive their IT, instead of letting it drive
them. Their OMG membership is an important weapon in the arsenal they
use to maintain their lead in IT, as we’ll show in this paper.
Six Reasons to Join OMG
We’ve identified and analyzed six ways that these companies exploit
their OMG membership, and we’ll present each of them here. Implemented
as a coherent strategy, they allow a company (yours, we suggest!) to
bring its IT under control and build the same advantage that the leaders
rely on. As a member of OMG, working within our process along with other
companies in your industry or related to it, your company can:
- Help shape industry standards and vendor products to your
- Leverage the work and knowledge of the industry’s best minds
- Plan, purchase, and implement in front of the curve, instead of
- Keep your competition from jumping ahead of you
- Let your company, and your department, be seen as a leader
- Cover your costs (and more!) with savings
As we examine each of these reasons, we’ll assign a dollar value to
the benefit of those that allow. For the others, we’ll present a
concrete rationale and suggest an approximation to the dollar benefit.
(The benefits from these others are so large that, even at the lowest
range of our estimate, the argument for OMG membership is clear.) When
we’re done, we’ll calculate total costs – membership fees, plus
the cost of your employee delegate’s time spent on OMG membership
activities, and (should your company choose to participate by traveling
to our meetings) travel costs as well. The difference – since the
benefits outweigh the costs by a large margin – makes a convincing case
Before we start our tour through the six reasons, we’ll take a minute
to describe OMG and list our current suite of standards. If you want to
learn more about them, you’ll have to check out the references; this is
a paper about ROI, not technology!
OMG: What We Are and What We Do
We’ve already pointed out that OMG is an international computer
standards consortium with hundreds of member companies. After sixteen
years of successful work, our organization now publishes, maintains, and
extends quite a suite of specifications. Here’s a list; check the
Reference section at the end of this paper for pointers to more
The Model Driven Architecture (MDA)
establishes OMG as the organization with strategic standards
aimed at maximizing long-term IT ROI. (Because the lifetime of a
platform is potentially so short, technology-specific standards must be
considered tactical.) Unifying the stable, business-oriented modeling
space with the technology-specific implementation space, the MDA focuses
on applications’ business functionality and behavior as it allows
an enterprise the freedom to target virtually any middleware platform or
combination of platforms they choose in their initial implementation,
and later to re-target should circumstances require.
The foundation of the MDA, and the key to building standards that
cover multiple systems and platforms, is the OMG’s suite of modeling
specifications – the MetaObject Facility (MOF), Unified Modeling
Language (UML), XML Metadata Interchange (XMI),
and Common Warehouse Metamodel (CWM). To an enterprise,
modeling (that is, formal requirements analysis and application design)
is the strategic step that increases the odds that its development or
integration projects will succeed, as it increases software lifespan and
thus ROI. OMG’s unique focus on modeling sets it apart.
OMG also standardizes an open platform, the Common Object Request
Broker Architecture or CORBA. Used in millions of business
deployments today, CORBA also dominates and is expanding rapidly in
specialized markets including distributed Realtime, Embedded (small
footprint), and High-assurance computing. Our more recent Data
Distribution Service (DDS) specification is already widely used, and not
just in military real-time applications.
Along with CORBA, OMG standardized the CORBAservices and
CORBAfacilities. Taking advantage of the early start, the organization
turned these definitions – including such essential services as
transaction processing, security, a distributed event service – into a
mature framework that now supports some of the largest and fastest
applications in the industry. To flesh out the MDA, the organization is
now constructing UML models of these successful services. When complete,
these will constitute the MDA’s Pervasive Service layer.
OMG’s Domain – that is, industry-specific – facilities have
been specified in MDA since the architecture was adopted as our formal
basis in late 2001, allowing our members to specify interoperable
interfaces on just about any middleware. This includes the recently
popular Web Services, to populate a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).
The most popular of our older CORBAservices are getting a makeover and
emerging in a more general MDA-based format.
All of these specifications were conceived by, drafted by, adopted
by, and are maintained by OMG’s Members – staff do none of the
technical work; members populate and comprise the Task Forces that
choose the specifications they want to adopt, write the requirements
documents for them and vote to set the process moving, and recommend
final versions for adoption. A smaller group of members draft and submit
the documents that, following evaluation and a sequence of votes by all
members, become the final specifications. Formal adoption comes on a
vote of OMG’s Board of Directors, also composed of members.
For more information on OMG’s specifications, process, or membership,
check out the links in the References section at the end of this paper.
We’re ready to start our tour through the six reasons why end-user
companies join OMG, starting with the one closest to the organization’s
Help Shape Industry Standards and Vendor Products to Your
Working in the MDA, OMG members define industry standards usable on
all of the middleware platforms used in their industry; each participant
interoperates using its preferred middleware. Even better, the
platform-independent base model allows these standards to evolve to new
platforms and ways of networking when they are introduced, making
standards generation a strategic investment in a way not possible before
the MDA. One pre-MDA alternative – industry standards written in a
single technology – forces every company in the industry to use that
technology whether they want to or not, and risks obsolescence when
advances move the platform out of favor. An alternative to
technology-specific standards is technology-free standards, written in
English (or your favorite other language), which are typically so loose
that true interoperability eludes and little benefit results.
At OMG, you will work with other companies in your industry to set
computing standards, focusing on those that require interoperability.
Because work at OMG is done by volunteers, and there are never enough,
you can almost always choose the amount of influence you want:
contribute effort, and your influence goes up; lay back, and others will
(usually) fill in the gap. The concentration of industry players in the
group attracts the attention of vendors, increasing the uptake of the
You can have a substantial influence on OMG process even without
attending meetings. Your staff can read initial drafts of documents –
RFPs, initial and revised submissions – and comment via email. Document
authors appreciate other members’ interest, and respond to virtually
every comment. You can follow up this work with a note to the Task Force
chair, specifying a proxy vote in favor (presumably, since you worked on
it) of a motion on the document at a meeting. If you like a particular
submission (or, perhaps, you leaned on your favorite vendor to make the
submission), you can ask the submitter to name your company as a
supporter on the document.
If you choose to attend a meeting, you can speak at a Task Force
session, make or second a motion, and vote. If that group’s work is
particularly important to your company, you can encourage one of your
staff to run for chair or co-chair. End-user chairs are viewed
especially favorably by the members, because of their neutrality
compared to the participating (and essential) vendors.
The dollar value of this benefit depends on the size and complexity
of the software involved. We performed sample calculations on a piece of
standardized software that would replace a two man-year development
project, putting the savings at about $300K over five years, or $60K/yr.
Most specifications deal with (much!) larger software modules so these
figures are a minimum value. If your company helped write the
requirements and evaluated the final submission, your savings will be
maximized because of the way the software meets your company’s needs.
Harder to quantify, but just as important: The specification will be
designed by the best companies in your industry, working together, and
product implementations will be tested and documented to meet industry
product standards, not always the case for in-house software. Another
benefit, impossible to get any other way: Your standards-based products
will interoperate with those of your customers, your suppliers, and the
other companies in your industry,.
In early 2002, META Group compared the IT budgets of companies with
and without a commitment to architecture, as shown by their established
architectural standards and/or a corporate architecture board. Keeping
things simple, they compared total IT budget per user for large (over
5,000 users) and smaller (fewer than 5,000 users) companies. For the
larger group, corporations with architecture spent $6,185/user while
those without spent $9,209, for an architectural savings of 32%. For the
smaller, corporations with architecture spent $22,534; without spent
$30,386; for a savings of 25%.
What if you don’t join? Your competitors, suppliers, and customers
won’t wait for you. They may have already joined OMG to work on
standards that don’t take your company’s needs into account simply
because you don’t participate. As they work the standards, they’re
building them into their corporate architecture so, as products arrive,
they’ll fit right into an infrastructure designed for them. Compared to
these companies, your architecture will need to be redesigned with
accompanying delays and additional cost.
Leverage the Work and Knowledge of the Industry’s Best
The best people in the computer industry write OMG specifications,
and come to our meetings. They have to, because technical work and
evaluation is performed there – the meetings are not just for
presentations and speeches (although some of that happens too!).
OMG specifications are not just built; they are designed – for
use in mission-critical applications where they need to keep working
when every response contributes to the bottom line and a missed
invocation translates to missed profits. Architects study the design of
such OMG specifications as the Transaction Service (with contributions
from one of the originators of the mainframe database); the Security
architecture (designed, in part, by experts from the U.S. National
Security Agency); and the Distributed Notification Service (designed by
experts in Telecommunications Network Management for use on stressed
networks) for insight in designing their own systems. The UML includes
contributions from the “3 amigos”: Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobsen, and Jim
Of course you can benefit from this good design by buying compliant
products and integrating them into your company’s IT infrastructure and
architecture, and you don’t have to be a member to do this. But only
members may attend our meetings with these experts, and interact with
them over OMG email lists. Even though these experts keep busy with OMG
activities during the week, most find time here and there to chat with
other members with common interests. The end result? Many OMG member
companies leave each meeting with tidbits of information and suggestions
that their staff can integrate into their IT or software architecture,
putting or keeping them at the head of the curve. While we’re not
promising you free consulting, we are pointing out that each OMG meeting
represents an opportunity to solve a nagging problem, or find an elegant
solution to an architectural conundrum, by interacting with the experts
around you. Few, if any, other gatherings present this kind of
opportunity: Vendors’ technical staff attend OMG meetings because the
work gets done there. With these experts gathered in one place,
opportunities arise naturally. Compare this situation to a trade show,
for example, where non-technical sales staff repeat carefully-coached
answers to anticipated questions.
Plan, Purchase, and Implement in Front of the Curve, Instead of
Good IT – the kind that builds your profits, keeps your customers
coming back, and makes your staff brag about the support they get –
doesn’t just happen. It’s planned. Infrastructure planners
forecast years ahead, budgeting for infrastructure improvements that
will keep up with the state of the art without basing your core business
on technology so advanced (and flaky) it belongs in R&D. Crews install
the newly-arrived hardware while support staff go to just-in-time
training; before staff can forget what they learn, they sit down at new
terminals and put it into practice. One of the things they do is install
new software that takes advantage of these advanced capabilities.
Development staff, who may have been developing in the new environment
on a test bed, now move their work to the production system and your
staff uses all of their new toys to build the business. In the meantime,
of course, the planners are working on the second generation beyond,
because this cycle happens again and again.
How do these companies know what’s coming down the pike? They read
the analysts’ predictions, of course, but the analysts don’t have as
much skin in the game as the vendors, who keep their plans secret (or
divulge selected bits to a few major customers) in order to maintain a
competitive edge. One place where the future comes out is within
standards bodies and, more effective when you work in “Internet time”,
industry standards consortia and especially OMG.
OMG defines the state of the art of commercial software in
many areas: Enterprise Architecture and integration, including
the Model Driven Architecture (MDA); software modeling, analysis, and
design; Business Process Modeling and Business Rules; scalable
transactional business applications; Realtime, embedded, and fault
tolerant distributed computing; and many industries’ software standards.
Our organization completes standards faster than any other, but it
still takes 10 to 18 months to move from a newly-issued RFP (Request
for Proposals, the requirements document that initiates a technology
adoption) to a finished specification. What do members know, and when do
they know it? They know, six to ten months before the RFP is issued,
about plans to adopt a standard in the technology area and have probably
followed the draft RFP as it progressed from initial draft to final
form. When the RFP is issued, everyone finds out because OMG makes it
public to encourage as many submissions as possible (although non-member
companies will have to join in order to submit).
The most interesting documents – initial and revised submissions,
along with the email and meeting discussions of their strong and weak
points – are restricted to members only during the evaluation period
that follows; this restriction continues during voting. Once the final
vote is complete, the completed specification is exposed to the world on
OMG’s website. The bottom line: Members knew two years in advance that
there would be an industry standard; non-members knew possibly fifteen
months in advance. Members knew over a year in advance approximately
what the specification would look like, and knew the final details
perhaps six months in advance; non-members waited until the votes were
complete. End-user members use this information to plan future
architectural direction, budgeting, and infrastructure purchases.
(Vendor members, of course, implement these specifications in products
that, in many cases, form their core business.)
Members know not only what is coming down the pike; they also
know who is riding on the bandwagon: The list of companies
registered as submitters to each OMG RFP is available to members only.
It may be easy for a company to say, in a conversation or an
advertisement, that it’s going to support a hot new technology but
RFP-submitter status requires a true commitment: Every company on this
list has submitted a legally binding Letter of Intent to OMG pledging
that, if their submission is voted by the members to be the standard in
this technology area, they will produce and market a commercial
implementation within the year.
Using this information, a perceptive end-user company can separate
the truly hot technologies from the wannabes, and the committed
companies from the ringers. If members have any questions after they
read the list, they can ask people from the companies involved (although
it’s up to each member to decide how much he wants to divulge, of
course). This not only lets them put the winners onto their acquisition
list farther into the future; it also lets them avoid money-wasting
commitments to dead-end technologies.
What if you don’t join OMG? The roadmap documents posted on each Task
Force’s public home page forecast the direction of future work, but
these are very general and subject to change. You can not find out which
companies are committed to the technology, since this information is
kept on listings available to members only. And, you can not network at
member meetings with the people doing the work. You can, we suppose,
subscribe to the computer trade rags and read Spencer F. Katt and Robert
X. Cringely for hints about what’s going on in the industry.
Don’t Let Your Competition Jump Ahead
OMG members support our standardization process in many ways: Vendor
members’ staff write and revise the submissions that become, after a
series of votes, the actual specifications themselves. Vendor and
end-user members together evaluate and critique the various submissions,
working the process that culminates in that series of votes. To be
eligible to do all of this volunteer work, these companies pay
membership fees that allow OMG to oversee the process, and support the
market for the resulting specifications and implementation products.
Governments around the world allow consortia such as OMG to gather
companies together to build standards as long as certain requirements
are met. One is that membership be open, and OMG encourages every
company to join and participate – in fact, this document is part of our
membership recruitment effort. Another requirement is that the
organization’s standards, once they have been completed, must be made
available to every company equally. So, OMG posts every final
specification on its website where it can be downloaded for free.
Completing the availability picture, every current OMG specification is
free of intellectual property restrictions, and may be implemented and
sold by any company without license or payment of royalty. (OMG plans to
continue this policy, although laws and policy also allow the group to
adopt specifications that require licensing as long as licenses are
granted on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis to all requestors.)
If the world moved slowly, a company could wait for specifications to
appear on the OMG website, purchase or build compliant software, and
reap the benefits. Unfortunately for companies that try to do this, the
race in today’s Internet-paced world of Darwinian competition does not
go to the patient, plodding turtle but rather to the fast-paced hare
as long as the hare knows the twists and turns far enough ahead down the
road. So, working for its members’ benefit where the law allows, OMG
restricts access to working documents to members only. As we’ve seen,
this creates two advantages for members: They know, far in advance, the
direction that industry standards are going to go, and in addition, they
get to help steer the course through their comments and votes.
IT prowess conveys a major competitive advantage, even though IT is a
cost center and not a profit center for every company (even those that
produce hardware and software themselves!). In this context, consider
the position of a member company vis-à-vis a non-member: Neck and neck
at the start (we’ll presume), the member company gains a significant
advantage as it uses its inside information to plan and implement ahead
of the competition.
“But,” you say, “my company is doing fine. I don’t have anything to
worry about.” Not so: While your company is being recruited by OMG (it
must be; otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this white paper), your
competition is being recruited also, along with your software vendors,
your suppliers, and your customers. In this context, you can either be a
leader or a follower. Being a follower can be dangerous, as we’ll
Position Your Company, and Your Department, as a Leader
Everyone seems to know who the true leaders are, whether they’re
companies or people. They know the right direction to go, before anyone
else does, and they head out with a calm assurance that others – the
followers – recognize right away. There are advantages to being a
leader. Where do the leaders find out the things they know? OMG is one
At OMG, you’ll help to write industry standards, working with
prominent vendors and the other companies in your industry: your
customers, suppliers, and competitors. The advanced knowledge that you
gain from this process puts you in an enviable position.
Use this knowledge to fine-tune your corporate IT architecture.
(Remember the META study about the value of an IT architecture, which we
mentioned a few pages back?) Implement it across your company, starting
in your own department. Select building blocks that work together, and
plan upgrades several years ahead, with planned multi-stage rollouts.
Base everything on OMG’s MDA; metamodels based on the MOF establish a
commonality that smooths out barriers to interoperability and
Within your company, you’ll be the “go-to” person, and your
department will be the “go-to” department. Leadership status builds on
itself: every time someone goes to you because you’re the leader, and
you come through with a good solution, your leadership status climbs a
rung higher on the ladder. In today’s uncertain economy, it’s good to
give your company this kind of value, and even better that everyone
knows it came from you.
But where is the value to your company? How do you put a value on
Leadership? Apparently the equities marketplace knows how to put a value
on it, according to Jonathan Low in Invisible Advantage (Perseus
Publishing, 2002). Low identifies a number of areas where a pervasive
corporate culture conveys such a distinct advantage that it shows up
as a quantifiable increase in the company’s valuation on the capital
markets. It’s obvious that the OMG benefits contribute in Low’s
category of Technology and Processes, but that’s not the only one: they
also contribute to Leadership, Alliances and Networks, Workplace
Organization and Culture, and Innovation.
The business world has become much more Darwinian as we made the
transition from the plentiful 1990s to the leaner first decade of the
new millennium. The scavengers are waiting to pounce on any company that
shows vulnerability. A company with the Invisible Advantage will execute
its business plan in a smooth, robust way that accomplishes business
goals quickly at minimum cost. Think of your company, compared to your
two or three closest competitors. OMG is anxious to give all of our
members every advantage possible.
Cover Your Costs with Savings and “Intangible” Benefits
In this section, we’ll summarize the benefits that OMG membership
brings to your bottom line, giving numbers where they make sense but
conceding that we can’t be precise with the kind of intangible benefit
mentioned in the last section. First, we’d like to review OMG’s
OMG’s marketing department covers the industry looking for deals and
discounts for members, who can get discounts on conference
registrations, training, and analyst reports and services. Members can
find out about available discounts on the web for analyst reports and
services, and training, and by email for upcoming conferences.
Our marketing department also maintains pages presenting stories of
companies’ success with the MDA (www.omg.org/mda/products_success.htm),
and CORBA (www.corba.org/success.htm).
A listing on these pages marks a company as not only a success, but also
as a leader, and as we mentioned in the previous section, measurable
rewards accrue to leaders.
So, in summary, your end-user company accrues these benefits from its
membership in OMG:
- Shape industry standards and vendor products: We
calculated that the benefit from a standard equivalent to a 2 MY
development project would be about $300K over five years, or
$60K/yr. Since most standards cover larger software modules,
consider this to be a low-end estimate. If your industry
standardizes a suite of applications that all work together, the
savings for a large enterprise could easily reach into seven figures
- Leverage the work and knowledge of the industry’s best:
We didn’t calculate a dollar return for this benefit, because it can
vary so widely. For companies that work well with the other OMG
members at meetings and over email, the savings add up quickly. We
know of one end-user company that estimated the value of this
benefit in the six- or seven-figure range.
- Plan, purchase, and implement in front of the curve: Once
again, we didn’t put a dollar value on this benefit. Savings accrue
from a smooth rollout of software planned for and purchased years in
advance. Up-to-date infrastructure and software increases sales and
profits. Knowing what will be the next true “hot technology”, and
what is just an illusory bubble, can keep your company from making
an expensive investment in dead-end technology. And, since you know
which companies write an OMG standard, you can negotiate your
purchase from the source ’way in advance.
- Don’t let your competition jump ahead: While some of the
benefits in our list seem abstract, this one is immediate, and very
real. You and your competitors fight head-to-head for the same
dollars whether your market is growing, staying constant, or (we
hope temporarily!) shrinking. Every advantage makes a difference
when you’re fighting in close quarters like this. OMG works hard to
help all of
our members equally. If your competitor is not a member, you’ll have
all of the advantages that we’ve covered in this white paper. If
your competitor is a member (and you should keep in mind that OMG’s
goal is to establish pervasive industry standards), your technology
will be well-designed and established at minimum cost because it’s
based on standards, leaving you more resource to develop the edge
that differentiates your products and services in the marketplace.
The worst case would be to have an OMG member as a competitor, when
- Position your company, and your department, as a leader:
We didn’t put a dollar value on this one either, but you can
estimate the potential benefit: According to Low’s book, the maximum
benefit is about 35% of your company’s market valuation if you max
out all twelve of his criteria. Figure that OMG membership can help
you with parts of five criteria, amounting to about 20% of this
total. That’s between 5% and 10% of your market valuation, a sum
worth going after.
- Cover your costs with savings and discounts: We won’t
calculate a specific dollar value for the discounts, but estimate
these discounts could save several thousand dollars in hard cash.
This may be small compared to the multiple millions or more in play
in the previous bullet items, but that’s not the point. The real
message of this benefit is that conferences, analyst reports, and
training are all ways to build and maintain the awareness that keeps
a great IT department great, or starts to turn a not-yet-great one
around and build it up, and the OMG marketing benefits are an
incentive to get started.
How much will it cost your company to join OMG, participate in our
process, and accrue these benefits? It’s a lot less than you think, even
taking into account total cost of participation and not just the
membership fees. In the next section of this paper, and Appendix A,
we’ll do the math and give you specific numbers.
Costs of OMG Membership and Participation
Managers know that time costs money, and that OMG membership costs a
company more than the membership fee alone. At some companies, the
decision about OMG membership languishes until someone comes up with
cost figures. To help streamline your company’s decision process, we’ve
performed the calculations for you and summarize the results in this
section. Full details appear in Appendix A.
Total cost of membership divides neatly into three parts:
- The OMG membership fee;
- Staff time spent on participation and reporting; and
- Travel costs, if you choose to attend meetings.
Participation levels vary widely among our member companies: Some
participate mainly through email and vote by proxy when items important
to them come up in a meeting. Other companies send a delegation of
delegates to every meeting. (This doesn’t get them any more votes in a
meeting – it’s still one-company, one-vote. But it does let them send
their specialists to meetings on different subjects, and cover
simultaneous sessions.) Some companies cover only meetings on their
continent; others cover only meetings that plan presentations or votes
on technology in their core business.
To cover a range typical for new member companies (which rarely send
more than one delegate to a meeting), we calculated for three attendance
scenarios: a “no travel” scenario where the company representative
studies the documents up for evaluation and vote, comments by email, and
votes by proxy (so this scenario does, in fact, allow for influence on
the OMG process); a “minimum-travel” scenario where the representative
travels to two meetings per year and stays for one day each; and an
“every meeting” scenario of very active participation where the
representative travels to all five meetings during the year and stays
for three days at each one. There is nothing rigid about these
scenarios; each member company participates at a level that fits its
budget and goals and many vary their attendance from one meeting to the
next. Still, many of our end-user members settle into a participation
pattern that resembles one or the other of these scenarios. Even if your
company doesn’t, you can use them as a basis for interpolation.
We believe that our cost figures are realistic. They include meeting
preparation and reporting time, time spent reading and responding to
email, and time for both travel and attendance for meetings. For
details, read through the Appendix.
Here are a few sample total cost figures. First, we’ll consider a
company with gross revenue of under $100M. If this company decides to
join at the influencing level and participate without attending
meetings, their total cost of OMG membership – including fees and
staff time – will be only $9,400/year. If they would rather attend
two meetings per year for one day each (our minimum-travel scenario),
their costs go up but remain a modest $20,400/year.
Or, consider a larger company, but still under $500M gross revenue,
which chooses to join at Domain level so it can vote in the DTC and,
after they’ve maintained their membership for a year or so and “learned
the ropes”, run a candidate for OMG’s Board of Directors. If this
company attended under the minimum-travel scenario their cost would
be less than $33,000/year but we think that their commitment would
lead them to attend most meetings and stay a little longer; if they
attended as listed in the every-meeting scenario their total costs would
still be less than $45,000/year. (This figure does not include the
additional cost of sending a second delegate to the OMG Board meetings
during their second and later years of membership. )
To calculate total costs for your company’s membership, see Appendix
A. To skip the details and get a cost figure right away, go right to the
end of the appendix.
OMG exists to benefit its members. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising
that, after sixteen successful years, the organization provides such
substantial benefit for such a small investment. Still, to see the
rationale set out in this paper makes the point in an unmistakable way.
One last topic, before we bow out and leave you to decide when to
start your company’s OMG membership: Where in your company should the
funding for membership and participation come from? Even though the cost
is low compared to the benefits, the benefits extend company-wide but
costs are usually allocated to a particular department where they can
seem distortedly large. OMG suggests that an executive with
responsibility for the entire company take ownership of the membership.
This person can ensure that funding comes from a similarly high level,
even if it is funneled down to a department for disbursement. If this is
not done, there’s a risk that the strategic OMG membership with all of
its company-wide benefits could be given up some year for a tactical
purchase for a single department.
We hope that this paper has led you to think about OMG membership in
a new light. There are a number of things you can do to follow up, some
with OMG and others within your own company:
- Follow the links in the References section below to learn more
about the MDA, other OMG specifications, the OMG process, and
- If your company has an established architecture, meet with those
responsible for it and discuss how OMG membership would fit in. If
you don’t, it’s probably time to start working on one and OMG
membership is a good place to start (but you’ll have a lot more work
- OMG’s account representatives can answer questions about
membership and logistics. OMG senior staff are available to speak to
a gathering of your decision-makers, to describe the organization’s
technology, process, membership, and benefits. To arrange for such a
session, contact your account representative at OMG – see
“Contacting the OMG” in the References section.
- Your company may send a delegate (you, perhaps!) to an OMG
meeting as a non-voting guest/observer, to gather information
helpful to your membership decision. To set this up, contact your
company’s account representative.
Thank you for your interest in OMG. We hope to see you at a meeting
Appendix A: Calculation of Membership Costs
Total cost divides neatly into three parts:
- The OMG membership fee;
- Staff time; and
- Travel costs, if you choose to attend meetings.
Because many of our member companies restrict travel, OMG uses
electronic communication to allow delegates to monitor and even
participate in Task Force work without attending meetings. (The classic
example is a CORBA ORB expert from Australia who was so active for years
that virtually every active member “knew” him, even though none of them
had ever seen him. When he finally came to a meeting in person,
attendees treated the occasion like a reunion!)
We’ll treat these three parts separately, membership fees first:
OMG Membership Privileges and Fees
Figure 1 diagrams OMG membership privileges for the four
participatory levels of membership open to companies and corporations.
(Not shown is an non-participatory trial level, and special categories
for universities and government agencies with privileges identical to
the companies’ and corporations’ Influencing level.) Every level
includes all of the privileges of the levels below it. For details about
the OMG technology adoption process and the roles of the various
Figure A-1: OMG Membership Privileges by category
OMG varies membership fees with company gross revenue, in keeping with the
organization’s policy of fair and open membership. Table 1 shows the fees
for each level, for every revenue step:
$10M - $100M
$100M - $500M
Table A-1: OMG Yearly Membership Fees
Calculating Staff Time
We’ll calculate staff time requirements as a percentage
of a “Full-Time Equivalent” (FTE), as most enterprises do when they plan
projects. There are 40 hours in a typical (American) work week, and 50
weeks in a typical (American) work year, totaling 2,000 hours/year.
Month-long European-style vacations, or varying workday lengths, will
differ from these values by only a few percent in most cases so we’ll
let you adjust the numbers yourself if our assumptions don’t fit your
To calculate staff time, we started by listing the tasks
that your delegate to OMG will probably do. Our list starts with tasks
that your delegate will perform in his office, between meetings:
Before every meeting, review draft and final
documents for the adoption processes that affect your company. Our
estimate: Preparation for a meeting will take 1 workday equivalent
total, although it’s likely that this time will be spread out over a
week or two. This number, like all of the other numbers we’ll
present in this section, is just an example, to let us calculate a
cost figure. Your actual costs will be lower or higher, depending on
how much time and effort your staff put into OMG activity.
Your entire company will benefit from participation
in OMG, but only if they find out what’s going on. This means your
delegate will have to report back, either by giving a short seminar
or sending an email. In either case, we estimated post-meeting
reporting time at ½ workday equivalent.
Email contact: We estimated time spent reading and
responding to OMG email at about 10 minutes/day or just under an
hour per week (33 hours/year). This is an average; the actual time
will vary widely from week to week for the same person, and also
vary from person to person depending on the technology adoptions
This “homework” takes the same amount of time whether
your delegate attends a meeting in person or participates over email and
votes by proxy. 40 hrs preparation + 20 hrs reporting + 33 hrs email
adds up to about 93 hours/year; because these are only estimates, we’ll
round up to 100 hours/year. Remember, your company’s delegate will
surely vary the amount of time he spends on these tasks depending on how
important the active technology areas are to your company; these numbers
represent only an average value for a “typical” company.
Now we’ll add time devoted to meeting attendance: The
amount of time that OMG’s member companies devote to this varies widely.
Some companies participate fairly actively without attending meetings at
all, or attending only sporadically. Some companies attend only the
meetings held on their continent (which may be either North America,
Europe, and Asia; more than half of OMG’s member companies are based
outside of the USA) although travelers who shop for discount fares tell
us that distance doesn’t affect travel cost very much. And a number of
companies, enthusiastic supporters of OMG and users of our technologies,
send a delegation to every meeting.
We’ll calculate staff time for three scenarios: a “no
travel” scenario where the delegate studies the documents up for
adoption, comments by email, and votes by proxy (so this scenario does,
in fact, allow for influence on the OMG process); a “minimum-travel”
scenario where the delegate travels to two meetings per year and stays
for one day each; and an “every meeting” scenario of very active
participation where the delegate travels to all four meetings during the
year and stays for three days at each one. There is nothing rigid about
these scenarios; each member company participates at a level that fits
its budget and goals. Still, many of our end-user members settle into a
participation pattern that resembles one or the other of these
scenarios. Even if your company doesn’t, you can use them as a basis for
For meeting time, we assumed that travel to and from
each meeting consumed a day each, so that one-day attendance actually
consumes three days, and three-day attendance consumes five days. If
your delegate works on the plane (and it’s typical for attendees to
review meeting documents on the way over, and do other associated work
on the way back), your costs will be somewhat less.
The no-travel scenario consumes no staff time
beyond preparation already calculated.
The minimum-travel scenario consumes 3 days
(two travel days plus one meeting day) each for two meetings, or 6
workday-equivalents (48 hours) in all.
The every-meeting scenario consumes 5 days
(two travel days plus three meeting days) each for four meetings, or
20 workday-equivalents (160 hours) in all.
These are all of the tasks that consume time in our
scenario. To convert time to money (US Dollars, which were nearly
equivalent to Euros when we originally wrote this in mid-2002), we need
to pick a salary level. We’ve settled on an engineer earning $75,000/yr,
and added 40% overhead, so costs are based on $105,000/yr.
The no-travel scenario consumes 100 hours of
preparation time and no travel time, which is 5% of an FTE
(Full-Time Equivalent) and, for our engineer, costs a little over
Minimum-travel scenario consumes 100 hours of
preparation time plus 48 hours of travel time, totaling less than
7.5% of an FTE, costing a little less than $8,000 for our engineer.
Every-meeting scenario consumes 100 hours of
preparation time plus 160 hours of travel time, totaling 13% of an
FTE, costing just under $14,000 for our engineer.
Calculating Travel Costs
To calculate travel costs, we allowed $800 for
round-trip airfare and $200/night for hotel. We figured on two hotel
nights for one-day meeting attendance (i.e. arriving the evening before
and staying over to leave the next morning), and four nights for
three-day attendance. We added in the $500 OMG-members early-bird
discounted meeting fee which includes lunches and snacks, and added
$20/day for breakfast and $50/day for a typical business dinner.
Summing these costs, we calculated that
The minimum-travel scenario incurs total
travel costs of about $3,700, or $1,850 per meeting; and
The Every-meeting scenario incurs total
travel costs around $9,600, about $2,400 per meeting.
Of course there is no travel cost associated with the
no-travel scenario. The extra two days per meeting in the every-meeting
scenario add less than $600 to the travel costs for each trip; it’s the
extra two trips that contribute most of the cost difference.
Here’s a table of Staff Time Costs plus Travel Costs.
You can use these numbers to calculate your company’s total membership
cost in a single step, as we’ll show next:
Table A-2: Time plus Travel Costs
Calculating Your Company’s Total Participation Cost
To calculate your company’s total participation cost, add your membership
fee to the total time + travel cost figure for the scenario that comes
closest to your expected participation level:
1. Membership Fee, from Table A-1
2. Total Costs, from Table A-2
3. Total (Add 1 + 2):
Keep in mind that our dollar figures are based on an engineer earning
$75,000/yr, with a 40% overhead. If your delegate’s cost is widely
different from this, you may want to adjust the time costs in Table A-2
to compensate, and then adjust the totals to fit. With a little more
effort, you could take the intermediate numbers that we’ve presented in
the text and calculate costs for the exact attendance pattern and staff
hourly and overhead cost that you expect to use.
Download our specifications, all free:
CWM and MOF:
Policies and Procedures:
Membership privilege matrix (more detail than Figure A-1):
Electronic copy of this paper:
On-line membership application:
Contact an account representative:
Contacting the OMG (in general):
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call
The META Group Architecture Benefits study:
Originally posted at http://www.metagroup.com/metabits/mbDl0525.html;
no longer available.
The Invisible Advantage:
Low, Jonathan, and Kalafut, Pam C.: Invisible Advantage: How Intangibles
are Driving Business Performance. Perseus Publishing, Cambridge, MA.,
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