What exactly is "OBASHI"?

Obama
OBASHI has nothing to do with President Obama!

A year ago, asking the question “what is OBASHI®?” might have got you some interesting answers.  A sneeze, a martial art, and rather brilliantly ‘OBAMA bashing’ are all suggestions we’ve had.

In the last 12 months, however, I’ve seen a turnaround. OBASHI is getting recognised for what it is – a simple, easy to adopt methodology that maps dataflow through a business and supports meaningful conversations about investment, improvement, and business outcomes.

I’m also really happy to see that this recognition is coming from the folk in ITSM who actually work with the business. Consultants, outsourcers and business relationship managers are all starting to realize how OBASHI can help the business/IT conversation move forward.

Background to OBASHI

“A process cannot be understood by stopping it.  Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it”.  Frank Herbert

The OBASHI methodology allows organisations to clearly understand what is involved in supporting their business processes. Simple, powerful information can be used to support business decisions, financial decisions and strategic planning.

OBASHI creates visual maps of businesses and parts of businesses. The maps are simple, visual references that can be understood by staff at all levels. The maps help businesses to understand:

  • How the business works
  • What assets and components make the business work and support its business processes
  • What inter-dependencies exist between assets
  • How data flows around the business

OBASHI produces Business and IT diagrams (BIT diagrams) that are used to map business processes (see image below).

The OBASHI layers of ownership, business process, application, system, hardware and infrastructure show the business process and the IT that underpins it.

OBASHI’s origins

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.  John Muir

The OBASHI methodology was originally developed in 2001 by Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis. It was inspired by the computer models used within manufacturing and process industries to control and simulate the operation of infrastructure and plants.

The costs and values of manufacturing flows can be mapped, allowing the assets that support them to be optimised in a way that encourages maximum business profitability.

OBASHI develops and builds on the existing methods for costing and valuing the flow of data in the process control industry, and applies it to the flow of data in all sectors – including IT.

OBASHI is used to “help business professionals easily understand the ‘dollar per second’ value of dataflow that supports their business services and processes, in a simple and meaningful way. OBASHI is the basis on which they can make better informed and more accurate strategic, operational, tactical and technical decisions.”

Context

OBASHI is an interesting methodology because it applies to all types, sizes and sectors of organisation. It’s not targeted at a particular audience or area like ITIL® and PRINCE2®, and can be easily understood by business or IT focused staff.

For me, the value that OBASHI brings is in the way it enables business and IT conversation.  ITIL (maybe because of its name) can be perceived as being ‘IT focused’ – OBASHI is open to anyone. I feel that treating the business and IT as separate entities is a big mistake for the modern organisation – IT runs through and enables every business action and business process.

Building up a library of dataflows mapped using OBASHI helps business and IT staff to have conversations together about risk, impact, investment, strategy and growth.

Who is using OBASHI?

Early adopters of OBASHI include one of the world’s leading Formula 1 motorsport teams and the UK’s Civil Nuclear Constabulary, but perhaps one of the most interesting users of OBASHI is the global Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) project.

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OBASHI Business and IT Diagram

At the behest of G20 group of nations and the Financial Stability Board, the Global LEI project has been created to proceed with development of a unique identification system for parties to financial transactions. For the past 12 months over 100 institutions from around the world have been working together on the project.

The largest financial project in the world, the Legal Entity Identifier, is a fundamental requirement if the process of addressing the systemic risks that caused the 2008 financial crisis is to have the best chance of success. The LEI will also help participants and regulators to analyse, quantify and understand systematic and operational risk across banking and other industries.

Operating in an environment where regulators and financial institutions operate within and across different jurisdictional boundaries, each with their own unique requirements, OBASHI provides:

  • A Governance framework language for LEI policy and system design
  • A Programme Management tool to help national, regional and political variations, both technically and operationally
  • A practical, easy to create model of all the relationships and dependencies between all the business and technology components of the global LEI system

OBASHI is being used to create and maintain clarity in the LEI project – a ‘Common Language’ for technical and non-technical people, from diverse nationalities and business cultures, to understand and communicate about the project. With OBASHI the stakeholders can see how people, process and technology will be required to fit together to make the Global LEI Systems operate, this is helping them make the best-informed decisions.

When the LEI system is up and running it will be used to identify any and every participant, in any and every financial transaction globally.

Set this into a global operational context of thousands of implementations, each jurisdiction conforming to regional legal and regulatory requirements, capturing data in multiple languages and scripts, and all of that being used to update data in every other local LEI system and you start to appreciate the scale of the project.

Although the LEI project takes complexity to the next level, it’s easy to see that most businesses are becoming increasingly connected and complexity rises accordingly. Creating clarity and being able to communicate clearly will become ever more important.  This is where OBASHI is very useful.

Resources

To learn more about OBASHI, you can visit the official OBASHI website, where you will find some excellent case studies and presentations that you can tailor to your organisation.  Additional resource can also be found on the training website. The OBASHI training scheme is run by APMG International, and Foundation training is available both in the classroom and online.

You can view the list of OBASHI training providers online and also read up about the formal certification.

OBASHI® is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom and other countries

ITIL is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

PRINCE2 is a registered trademark of Axelos Ltd

second blog will follow on where and how OBASHI fits in with other IT frameworks, standards, and methodologies, as well as taking a look at why an organisation might use OBASHI.

This article was written by Claire Agutter, Director and Head of Online Training, IT Training Zone Ltd with contribution from Fergus Cloughley, Director and CEO, OBASHI Ltd.

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