TM Forum's Collaboration Program is a "Virtual Research and Development Consortium"
made up of TM Forum members for a growing array of industries, including communications
- telco, wireless, cable and Internet; cloud; defense; content; and information
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This web page gives a high level overview of the collaborative lifecycle; more detail can be found in the process definitions
Interest Groups & Communities
To successfully launch a new project requires committed support from multiple members, so most projects begin as an Interest Group in the online Community, building the momentum and commitment levels required to kick off a successful project.
Interest Groups are also formed by communities of users of TM Forum collaborative products, and can be used to share experiences, discuss best practice, explore new ideas etc.
Any member of the TM Forum or Forum staff may propose a new Interest Group.
The best way of establishing an interest group is to request a new Community to be established on the Collaboration Community Environment.
If the proposed new community has a clear statement of focus, and is not substantively overlapping or in conflict with other communities, the new community will be established and will be promoted to TM Forum Members in the next edition of our email newsletter in order to solicit further participation.
The Interest Group on the Community Environment allows members to interact, contribute and share information, identify common needs and goals, etc. within a safe anti-trust and protected intellectual property environment.
When there is a clear need to collaboratively produce deliverables that are useful to the industry (or to make modifications to an existing deliverable), and there is commitment from members to put adequate resources into the project in order to achieve success in a defined timeframe, then a Project Charter is required.
See the Ground Rules for Successful Collaborative Projects, as a guide.
The official start of a TM Forum Collaborative R&D project is approval of the Project Charter.
The Project Charter is a concise statement of
The project team leader must be identified, along with other roles as specified in the Project Charter template. Team leadership is reserved for Corporate or Subsidiary Member representatives. On an exception basis, and with the approval of the President, an Affiliate Member may be permitted to lead a project.
The initial group of members are responsible for selecting the IPR licensing mode that the project team will work under. During the discussions regarding the choice of an IPR mode, if a member company disagrees with the majority's preference of IPR mode, and is unable to convince the majority to agree to the alternative IPR mode they prefer, that member may decide not to participate in that project. Discussions related to choice of IPR mode will be time limited; if agreement cannot be reached within 30 days, the discussions should be suspended and will need to be re-constituted from scratch. There can only be one IPR mode per project, and all participants are bound by this. In the case where agreement cannot be reached, final adjudication will be done by the Technical Strategy Sub-committee. Additional information regarding IPR modes can be found here.
If the work product of the project team builds on existing Forum work, unless special circumstances exist, the IPR mode chosen must match the IPR mode of the existing work.
It is expected that some projects will be carried out on a Best Efforts basis, where they are primarily managed and driven by members. Some strategic projects will be carried out with resources committed to participate from their company. The same project charter template is used for both cases.
Where a project is established to produce a key deliverable in support of a Board Initiative, the team leader may be a member of Forum staff. It may also be appropriate for TM Forum staff to serve as participating members of the team, contributing directly to the advancement of the deliverables.
In order to show steady progress toward a useful goal, it is recommended to limit the scope of a project such that it can be completed (with all documentation finished) in 6 months or less. Only in exceptional circumstances will a project be approved for any longer than 6 months. It is recommended that larger projects are broken into more appropriately sized phases.
In January 2011 the Board of the Forum approved a mandatory set of Rules of Engagement for collaborative work to be used immediately for all collaborative activities within the Forum. These rules are intended to help projects with decision-making and speed up activities by ensuring all project team members are focused on delivering the committed outputs in the defined timeframe. These rules are included here.
During the development of the Project Charter, and before written contributions to the work are accepted, a project team should state any criteria that will be applied to the acceptance of contributions. If such criteria are invoked, the project team must take steps to ensure that the criteria are applied uniformly and without bias.
Project Charter Approval
Project Charters are reviewed and recommended by a wide range of advisors and approved by the Head of Collaboration Programs on behalf of the Technical Strategy Sub-committee. Every effort is made to respond quickly, and project teams are notified of the latest date by which they can expect feedback.
Factors that are taken into account when approving project charters include, but are not limited to:
Approval of a project charter is valid for a certain period of time, per the expiry date specified in the Project Charter template. In some cases, the Technical Strategy Sub-committee may decide to charter a project for a shorter or longer period than that requested by the project team in their Project Charter submission. The approved expiry date will be documented in the Project Charter and will be communicated to the project team.
Executing the Project
This section provides high level guidance; more detail can be found in the process definitions .
The online community environment enables members to participate in general discussions, socialize ideas and build consensus for project proposals. Members may share versions of documents which are being used for general community information and/or for the creation of a project charter.
Once a project is approved, a secure project area is created for project work and the initial team participants will be notified that they can now join the project. Member participants can then make an online request to join a project and will be granted access to the project area.
Effective April 1, 2013, when member participants make an online request to join a project, they will be presented with a screen that informs them of the following:
An email will be sent to the nominated Authorized IP Contact designated representative, with a copy to the eligible person attempting to join the project, asking them for authorization which will then unlock the collaboration project area for the applicant and inform them that authorization has been received.
When such authorization is received, the eligible person will be given access to the project area (becoming a Team Participant in the terms of the IPR Policy), and will be notified as such. Until such authorization is received, they will not be able to join the project.
Project teams may use a combination of working mechanisms, as they deem appropriate, such as:
In order to comply with existing and emerging regulations regarding transparency of standardisation, project teams must use the standard support tools and structures outlined in the Online Help area of the Community Environment, including the Calendar Functionality (to ensure all interested parties know details of the planned meetings). Meeting notices must have a clear agenda, time limits and objectives. Meeting minutes must also be produced, using the template provided, and stored in the recommended area of the community for ease of reference by all members.
For key strategic projects, where member companies have committed their resources to produce critical deliverables in specific timeframes, these projects are expected to remain focused on the agreed deliverables. With approval from the authorized person within their company, other "non committed" resources may observe and comment and in some cases may volunteer to assist with the work. However, the pace of the project must be maintained and delays may not be caused as a result of this.
Intellectual Property Rights
All Collaborative R&D work is governed by the IPR Policy of the TM Forum (Annex 1 of the By-Laws). All contributions must be made via the online collaboration environment. As such, any intellectual property associated with contributions to the work must be identified at the time of submission of the contribution.
At all meetings project team leaders are obliged to remind all team participants of this, and team participants are obliged to abide by it when making or accepting contributions to the project team’s work. Making Decisions
If consensus cannot be achieved on an item within the project team after appropriate debate, the project team-leader and project manager will revert to using Robert’s Rules of Order in order to agree the way forward. In this situation each participating Corporate member company is entitled to one vote, even if they have more than one participant involved.
The project manager is responsible for regular reporting on the status of the project to the Head of Collaboration Programs and ultimately the Technical Strategy Sub-committee and the Board of Directors. Where there are problems with delivery or where commitments on participation are not being upheld this will be rapidly escalated to all the stakeholders, including the line management of those involved.
Meeting notes must be produced for every project team meeting, and will be stored on the community environment using the template provided and in the storage area recommended in the online help, so that they can be easily found by all members. At a minimum meeting notes must document the attendees, decisions (including voting status if applicable) and resulting action items.
Producing Deliverables A number of document templates are provided by the TM Forum. These are offered as guidelines, and it is not necessary to use every section if it is not appropriate for the needs of the project team. Current templates are available here
All templates show the Notice Statement to be used during the earlier phases of development, (e.g. Standards Draft Deliverable, Member Evaluation etc.). As the document advances through its review and approval stages, the TM Forum office will change the Notice Statement accordingly.
Explanation of the Approval levels for Deliverables
Once a deliverable has come to a point of development where it is stable and it can be formally shared it will enter the approval process. To ensure the material is of a high quality there are a number of levels of review & evaluation. Full details of the approval process is available at this link
Before a deliverable can exit a working team, it must have completed a formal ‘Team Review’. The objective of this stage is to ensure that the Team are satisfied with the technical content of the material, all identified bugs are addressed, the template has been applied correctly and that both cosmetically and technically the deliverable is of a high quality.
Other peer teams and interest groups may be invited to participate in this review stage.
Once the team has ‘blessed’ the deliverable, it is submitted into the next phase of the approval process. At this point it may be reviewed and edited for format by the TM Forum office. In some cases, the format editor may find inconsistencies requiring consultation with the team leader or editor, and a final review by a team representative may be required.
In order to make the material readily available, these two review phases run in parallel. The Exert Review team, is made up of the Team Leaders Group, Change Control Group, TM Forum Staff etc. This group of people are requested to verify that the material is technically sound and has not introduced conflicts with other work activities.
The objective of the evaluation stage is to get review and input as early as possible.
The member evaluation period gives members the ability to see and provide formal comments on stable TM Forum work before non-members see it – a direct benefit of belonging to TM Forum.
The evaluation interval can be as short or as long as necessary, depending on complexity of the material it will typically be between 30 – 90 days, and will be reflected in the document’s time stamp. When a document is placed on the www.tmforum.org web site for Member Evaluation the notice appears in the next TM Forum electronic Newsletter.
If, during the Member Draft or Evaluation period of a deliverable, it is desired to give the document to another organization, that can be done appropriate authorization as defined in the by-laws of the corporation . Any Member Draft or Evaluation versions of the deliverable to be passed to liaisons must be sent via the TM Forum office, where the appropriate Notice Statement will be applied. Our ‘authorization process’ also requires a formal liaison agreement to be in place, and a signed agreement on how the receiving organization will manage the document distribution. Many organizations now have policies requiring all contributions to go on their public web site, so we need to be aware of, and agree, to each specific case.
Liaison organizations that want to use our document may do so, but they still must respect our control of the copyright, by providing appropriate source references.
At the conclusion of the Member Evaluation period, the team may need (based on feedback received) to update the document before going to Formal Approval stage. Regardless of whether changes to the document are made, the version number will be up-issued to reflect its change in status. Technical Strategy Sub-committee authorization
At the end of the Evaluation Cycle deliverables that require formal approval by the TM Forum Corporate Members, must undergo this part of the process:
The Technical Strategy Sub-committee will review the document in light of the following criteria:
The objective of this is to provide a final Board representative quality check prior to submitting this to the complete TM Forum Membership for final approval.
If the Technical Strategy Sub-committee recommends the document for formal approval it will enter the final phase. Once again comments and slight adjustments maybe required to be applied to the deliverable prior to going for ‘Corporate Vote’.
The purpose of this process is to achieve official “TM Forum Approved” status for deliverables that have been created and agreed upon by TM Forum members in the Collaboration Program.
Gaining membership approval for our work is an important step in industry adoption of TM Forum best practices and standards, as well as an obligation to the membership at large in the by-laws of the corporation .
The document approval process consists of two parts; approval voting, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) considerations. The approval voting is done by "Corporate" level members of TM Forum, while all members are asked for declaration of any IPR.
It must be noted that only the named Principal Contact of each member company will be directly notified in relation to this phase of the approval process.
Because this activity can only be completed by Principal Contacts, and it is realized that not all Principal Contacts are involved in TM Forum Collaboration Program work, the TM Forum staff can provide information on who within the member company has been involved in creation of the deliverables up for approval. This will enable the Principal Contact to gain the necessary input to determine appropriate action for the particular company.
Click here for the steps of the Corporate Vote sub-process .
If approved, the deliverable is updated to reflect the appropriate notice statement. To the extent that patent disclosures are made, and a sentence is added to the Notice Statement as follows: “This document may involve a claim of patent rights by one or more of the contributors to this document, pursuant to the TM Forum’s Policy on Intellectual Rights. Interested parties should contact the TM Forum office to obtain notice of current patent rights claims related to this document.”
There are a number of mechanisms whereby a project may be closed. These include: