About developing standards
Developing an open standard can follow a variety of paths to the same goal: to produce a robust, successful and reusable shared agreement that helps produce better quality data.
This section, ‘Developing standards’, is intended as a guide to the activities, documents and resources to consider in developing a successful open standard.
This is not a set of rules to follow, but a guide to help you make the right choices for your open standard.
Review ‘How open standards are developed’ for an overview and ‘Creating open standards: Getting started’ to explore what to consider before developing an open standard.
Before you begin
In ‘Development’, we explore how to develop your open standard collaboratively and in the open.
With a stable version of the open standard and supporting resources developed, you can launch your standard and monitor its impact.
In this section we focus on how you can use the launch of your open standard to improve adoption.
Plan the launch
Launching a successful open standard means sharing a stable version with a wide audience.
You should also share resources that make it easier for people and organisations to adopt and use the open standard – for example guides, test suites of data or models, tools, and code libraries. Review the ‘Expected outputs’ section of ‘Developing standards: development’ for related resources.
The launch event can be the start of widespread engagement, advocacy and adoption.
In ‘Creating open standards: getting started’, we recommend you begin engaging the community as early in the development process as possible to build relationships with your stakeholders – the people and organisations who will adopt, use or be affected your open standard.
We explore why the community of stakeholders is wider than adopters of the open standard. Review the ‘Identify the community’ section to understand why it’s important to engage with a variety of stakeholders.
For a successful launch that supports adoption, you can:
organise a launch event to promote your standard to a wider audience – when Google launched the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), they invited local and national media, which helped spread the story of their open standard more quickly
share a stable version of your open standard and supporting resources to make it easy to find –- the UK’s Brownfield land registers data standard was shared on the official government website to mark its launch and make it easy to find among existing government documents on brownfield sites
extend the stakeholder mapping to include potential supporters by taking note of who else is interested in or impacted by your open standard – focus on people and organisations who can support the adopters of your open standard such as policy advisors, developers of tools for publishing and using data, and industry or sector specialists
promote stories that demonstrate the impact of your open standard with early adopters – this could include media-friendly data visualisations, infographics, case studies, blogs, podcasts, tool demos, and academic research
consider adoption by a standards body to support sustainability and improve the changes of international adoption - organisations like the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) provide support, policies and procedures to endorse external, ‘community standards’.
Once the standard has launched, it’s important to support the people and organisations using or impacted by the open standard.
The kind of support needed will depend on the nature of your open standard, who the adopter is, their technical or industry expertise, and the impact you want your open standard to have.
The people and organisations directly using a standard to share vocabulary or a standard to exchange data are usually data publishers and data users.
For standards for guidance, consider what support is needed to help adopters understand the open standard and produce reliable results when they adopt it.
Regardless of the adopter, implementing your open standard will involve a number of roles, including executive, policy, operational, technology, and managerial roles. Consider the support needed for each of these roles and for each type of adopter.
Other people and organisations affected by the open standard may also need support. They include those using products and services based on the open standard, for example, policy affected by the open standard, data produced using an open standard, or tools developed to support data publishers and data users.
To provide support you can:
share information about your standards work– for example, case studies and articles describing the benefits of using the open standard, how it fixes problems in a sector, or why it is a good solution
provide tutorial and training sessions to guide data publishers, data users, guidance users, developers and others through implementing or using the standard, data, code libraries and other resources
target outreach to specific people and organisations who may be critical to getting the standard widely adopted
set up a technical helpdesk to field questions, provide support, training and outreach efforts
set up an engagement and advocacy team to work with public organisations and policy people and promote the open standard
provide tools to support use of guidance standards, integrate shared vocabularies or data exchange formats
provide forums online or offline where anyone interested in the open standard can ask questions and find others who are implementing the standard, developing tools, or making policy decisions
As your open standard is adopted and used, funders or stakeholders may want to understand who is using the standard, its impact and how it’s being used.
You can choose to monitor a variety of stakeholders and scenarios. This information is useful at ‘Review’ stage, where it can help you decide to ‘Update or retire’ the standard.
To monitor adoption, you can:
keep track of direct uses of the standard – the data publishers, data users or guidance users of your shared vocabulary, data exchange or guidance standard
keep track of indirect users of the standard – the data users of data published with a data exchange standard, developers of tools for data publishers and data users, policy groups, data specialists, sector specialists and others
collect case studies about the standard in use to help you understand where and how the open standard is used in real-world scenarios
interview adopters to understand what they think of the standard and how they use it
review products and services created by using the standard – for example, data published using formats, models generated using guidance or use of vocabularies in other standards and products
refresh the ecosystem map to understand what’s changed in the data infrastructure since the open standard was launched
Typical outputs at the end of the launch and adoption stage include:
updated stakeholder map including the new adopters of the standard
registered direct and indirect users who have registered online, attended workshops and events, or connected in other ways
adoption statistics that show adoption of the open standard
research including interviews and case studies that describe how the standard is being used
communication and media statistics that show the reach of the launch event, where the open standard is being mentioned and by whom