3. Principles for Digital Standards

Why is it necessary to create principles for open digital standards? The principal reason is the breadth of the subject being covered; re-orienting an enterprise to have a digital business model, or creating a new digital enterprise from scratch, requires a breadth of guidance including strategy, business models, operational guidance for both business and technical operations, and topics like compliance and security. Trying to capture this breadth in a single work would result in an unmanageably large and complex document. Instead, this document provides a set of Enterprise Principles[1] to harmonize decisions by Forums and Work Groups on the content of standards and guides.

A secondary reason is that industry understanding of digital best practices and standards is evolving rapidly. This evolution is best captured by a set of modular documents which can evolve independently, yet have:

  • Cohesiveness, including navigable cross-referencing

  • Consistent terminology

  • Consistency in quality and style

This document provides a set of business, content, and quality principles to guide the development and evolution of such standards at The Open Group.

3.1. Business Principles

This section contains principles covering the business objectives for a consistent set of digital standards.

Name Consistency in Practice


Digital standards of The Open Group present consistent and self-supporting guidance to the market.


While each standard of The Open Group should stand alone, consumers of The Open Group digital standards will get the greatest value if they can easily employ such standards together. This synergy among standards should not only be at the level of consistency of content and concepts, but also at the point of actual use – there should be as little friction as possible in following a subject from one standard to another.


  • There needs to be a consistent and durable mechanism for discovery and navigation of our digital content; downloading individual PDFs as a delivery mechanism will undercut the objective of being seen to be consistent

  • Standards and guidance should adhere to the quality principles; consideration of these should become part of The Open Group quality processes such as the Pre-Review Approval Process (see Section 3.3.8 of the Standards Process)

Name Consistency in Perception


Digital standards are seen to be coherent in the market.


We must not only have a consistent set of standards, but we must also be seen to have a consistent set of standards by people seeking such standards in the market. Delivery of the standards must therefore adhere to digital principles in standards delivery – the “digital moment of truth” for users of digital standards must not be undercut by discovery, delivery, or navigation issues.


  • The Open Group must develop an overarching set of strategic messaging showing both the relationships of the individual digital standards, and also the value gained by using them together

  • Similar overarching positioning must be developed to show the relationship of certification programs for related standards, and the relevance of getting multiple certifications for various roles/career paths

  • The Open Group must develop delivery methods that allow the easy discovery of content of digital standards (e.g., searchability) and navigation through cross-references between standards

Name Continuum of Career Paths


Provide a continuum of digital certifications based on stakeholder roles.


Per the consistency principles above, the market should also see an accompanying set of certification programs for relevant career paths. These should also adopt the principle of emergence; digital standards and guidance should provide value for people at all stages in their career or role in the digital enterprise.


  • Forums creating digital standards should establish modular certification programs for their digital standards and mappings to recognized roles/career progressions

  • There may be significant value in having some number of role-based knowledge certifications that cut across standards and leverage Body of Knowledge content from the entire digital portfolio

Name No Practitioner Left Behind


Digital standards provide a path for existing practitioners.


Many people in the workforce face the need to re-skill due to changes resulting from a re-orientation towards digital. Therefore, The Open Group must provide a skills upgrade path for existing practitioners requiring a mid-career skills refresh. Digital standards and guides, along with their related certification programs, provide a skills upgrade path for professionals upskilling themselves to understand the impact of “digital-first” for their business. This approach maximizes business value to The Open Group as it leverages our existing base of certified practitioners who have already benefited from, and are familiar with, IT certification programs.


  • Digital standards programs should create bridge material or supplementary guidance targeting the existing base of certified people, with the objective of building on existing certification evidence to obtain new certifications

  • Guidance targeting specific stakeholder roles may be needed

  • Certification programs and certification paths may need to cross standards boundaries; with such certification paths mapped to well-established industry role descriptions where possible

  • Related to above, certification programs should be designed for cross-functional roles (e.g., full-stack engineer) participants in cross-functional teams, and “​T-shaped people​”

3.2. Content Principles

This section contains principles covering some key content principles – the topics we believe must be the foundation of any digital standard.

Name Digital First


Digital standards assume a “digital-first” business model.


Digital standards have delivery of value to the customer through digital means as their primary business driver. Therefore, the ability to deliver value through technology must be an organic part of lines of business.


  • Digital standards contain a statement of how they will enable delivery of value to the marketplace through a combination of business and technology processes; this may include principles of Product-Centricity and Lean Value Stream, as described in the O-AAF Draft Standard (see Referenced Documents)

  • Digital standards and guidance eliminate or minimize boundaries between lines of business and IT

  • Internal service management or capability development are secondary to digital value delivery in digital standards – they are the means to an end; not ends in themselves

    (Source: Digitization is not Digital, MIT Sloan, https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/dont-confuse-digital-with-digitization/)

Name Continuous Delivery of Value and Evolution of Digital Operations


Digital standards must guide enterprises to adopt techniques to continuously explore, refine, and deliver value to their users (employees, partners, and customers) to control risk exposure.


Experiences for users within the construct of “home/personal” and “work” is converging more than ever. Barriers to adopting complex computational technologies are falling with time.

Development of innovative and unique products and services is core to enterprise growth. Enterprises must be encouraged to be flexible to deliver value at the pace of evolution of user expectations or pivot their business and operating models to minimize risks, impacting their ability to retain internal talent, partners, or customers. A digital enterprise will have a product mindset, and make frequent releases to be responsive to the market.


  • Digital standards explicitly direct organizations to adopt techniques and technologies that enable continuous and incremental delivery of value and minimize risks (see Assumption of Agile)

  • Digital standards explicitly encourage adoption of a digital product lifecycle

Name Assumption of Agile


Digital standards use an Agile product management approach. Agile product management uses various methods such as Design Thinking or Lean Startup to discover and validate both told and untold customer needs. These methods follow a “learning cycle” approach that uses prototyping and experimentation to verify and validate learnings.


In an Agile product management approach every iteration helps the enterprise learn in one or more dimensions while limiting the risk resulting from large iterations. (Source: The DPBoK Standard, Section Origins and Practices of Agile Development)


  • Digital standards use learning cycles as their primary method of discovering and validating customer requirements, and minimize up-front and reductionist requirements analysis

  • Every Agile product management cycle should help the enterprise learn in one or more dimensions; for example:

    • Discover and validate customer needs

    • Better define the product

    • Improve the product-market fit

    • Estimate production costs

    • Formulate a pricing strategy

  • Digital standards explicitly direct organizations to adopt Agile methodologies

  • Digital standards explicitly describe how the content of the standard or guide can be implemented and leveraged by an organization through use of Agile methodologies; in particular, for example, iteration or parallel development paths

  • By controlling the risk of any single increment of market value, an Agile product management approach improves the competitiveness of an enterprise

    This flexibility is a key business enabler for a project-to-product shift towards delivery of market value through digital means. (Source: The O-AAF Draft Standard, Chapter 3: A Dual Transformation)

  • Where relevant, standards should adopt a Product Management methodology based on Lean or Agile product management bodies of knowledge

Name Assumption of Lean


Digital standards adopt a Lean Product Development and product management approach. They employ a “minimum viable” approach to requirements management and governance.


Development of innovative and unique products and services is core to enterprise growth. (Source: The DPBoK Standard, Section Lean Product Development) An essential value of agility results from the ability to explore market options and reactions through iteration. Therefore, only resources essential to an iteration should be used in planning, deployment, and sustainment at any given time.


  • Digital standards minimize reductionist or stage-gated product management approaches in favor of improvement cycles that validate learnings using prototyping and experimentation; e.g., Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

  • Digital standards explicitly support a Lean Product Development approach

  • Digital standards explicitly incorporate an Adaptive Operating Model, as described in the O-AAF Draft Standard (see Referenced Documents)

Name Assumption of Continuous Integration and Delivery (CI/CD)


Digital standards employ techniques that shorten the cycle of learning and delivery of value to customers.


Adopting the principles of Assumption of Agile and Lean requires frequent and fast learning cycles. By dramatically reducing the lead time of product experimentation and development, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) accelerate learning cycles and shorten time-to-market.


Name Emergence Model


Digital standards guide enterprises as they grow in complexity.


As the TOGAF definition of “enterprise” includes organizations of all sizes, our standards need to be usable at all enterprise scales, not just large organizations. The embodiment of Lean principles further dictates that standards must not introduce complexity beyond that which is needed at the current scale of the enterprise. Digital standards must provide explicit guidance tailored to the different stages of organizational growth and complexity, and help prepare organizations to navigate transitions between stages.


  • Digital standards should provide reference to an explicit emergence model, ideally adopting the DPBoK emergence model; scale-free is insufficient

  • Digital standards should provide material that helps users prepare for future stages of growth where relevant; this can be in the body of the standard or in guides

Name Reverse Scaling


Digital standards guide enterprises and practitioners on how to navigate scaling boundaries in both directions.


Enterprises are not static, and navigating changes in size and structure is a major management challenge. This challenge occurs in both directions; enterprises that are growing (see the Emergence Model principle above), but also organizations that are faced with restructuring as a result of re-orientation towards digital value delivery.


  • Digital standards should provide material that guides users to prepare for restructuring where relevant, especially into Agile product management teams; this can be in the body of the standard or in guides

  • Additional guidance for the executive level may be needed to build an understanding of why restructuring is needed

Name Serve the Practitioner


Digital standards tune in and respond to the needs and feedback of the practitioner.


An outside-in perspective should drive the activity and prioritization of standards development.


  • Digital standards should consider (and respond to) the identified gaps, opportunities, and feedback identified by various communities (e.g., product managers, Enterprise Architects, etc.) as part of their roadmaps and efforts

  • Digital standards are likely to leverage open contributions and a modern digital tool chain for content development and delivery

3.3. Quality Principles

In order to present a unified set of standards and guides to the digital market, digital standards and guides of The Open Group must adhere to minimum principles of quality and consistency.

Name Consistent Terminology


Digital standards and guidance employ consistent terminology with clearly defined scopes in order to be used together effectively.


Implementors of digital standards should expect consistent terminology with clear definitions when employing multiple digital standards. Consistent terminology will also improve clarity of communication and understanding.


  • Digital standards provide clear and referenceable terminology and definitions

  • Creators of digital standards should seek to re-use or build on terminology defined in other digital standards

  • Digital standards should not develop terminology that conflicts with other digital standards of The Open Group

    When a term has more than one meaning, give a definition for each context in scope of the standard. For example, the term “service” has two definitions:

    1. Business context: An act performed for the benefit of another.

    2. Software context: An encapsulated component that delivers its outcomes through well-defined interfaces.

  • To facilitate using digital standards together, a central and linkable cross-digital standard glossary should be developed to bridge terminology when needed; this should include support for context-dependant definitions

Name Cross Reference


Digital standards explicitly cross-reference relevant material.


Consistent with The Open Group principle of “re-use, not re-invent” (Source: The Open Group Architecture Principles, Application Principles) digital standards must leverage existing definitions, concepts, processes, etc. defined in other standards and guides of The Open Group where possible.


  • Digital standards must provide clear and referenceable terminology and definitions

  • Creators of digital standards should explicitly identify and provide navigable links to concepts in other digital standards

  • The Open Group must provide a consistent and durable mechanism for such cross-document links

Name Strong Curation


Unified standards are consistently and strongly curated.


Digital practices and standards are evolving, and therefore must have both criteria and mechanisms to keep them current with industry practices and trends, subject to evidence of verifiability, notability, and reasonable longevity.


  • Digital standards provide explicit curation criteria, either directly in the document or by reference, including the DPBoK curation approach and the principles for evolving the TOGAF Standard

  • Items in a standard should provide references (e.g., footnotes) showing current use in practice or adoption

  • Consensus among members on the value of an idea is a necessary but not sufficient basis for the inclusion of an idea in a standard; market use should be shown

1. The TOGAF Standard, Version 9.2, Enterprise Principles.