The Open Group

The Open Group is a global consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through technology standards. With more than 870 member organizations, we have a diverse membership that spans all sectors of the technology community – customers, systems and solutions suppliers, tool vendors, integrators and consultants, as well as academics and researchers.

The mission of The Open Group is to drive the creation of Boundaryless Information Flow™ achieved by:

  • Working with customers to capture, understand, and address current and emerging requirements, establish policies, and share best practices

  • Working with suppliers, consortia, and standards bodies to develop consensus and facilitate interoperability, to evolve and integrate specifications and open source technologies

  • Offering a comprehensive set of services to enhance the operational efficiency of consortia

  • Developing and operating the industry’s premier certification service and encouraging procurement of certified products

Further information on The Open Group is available at

The Open Group publishes a wide range of technical documentation, most of which is focused on development of Standards and Guides, but which also includes white papers, technical studies, certification and testing documentation, and business titles. Full details and a catalog are available at

This Document

This is a Snapshot document of what is intended to become the Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge™ Standard, also known as the DPBoK™ Standard. It has been developed and approved by The Open Group.

The high-level structure of the document is summarized as follows:

  • Introduction includes the objectives and overview, conformance requirements, and terminology definitions

  • Definitions includes the the meanings of terms used in this document

  • Principles describes the axioms by which the document will evolve and be maintained, and how Digital Practitioner competencies will be defined

  • Structure describes the organizing logic for the Body of Knowledge

  • The Body of Knowledge is divided into four stages, called Contexts, which correspond to the stages of evolution of a digital practice. These stages are explained in the section on Context Summaries, and summarized as follows:

    Context I: Individual/Founder

    Foundational drivers of, and technical capabilities for, delivering digital value

    Context II: Team

    The critical product management, collaboration, and operational skills necessary for producing digital value

    Context III: Team of Teams

    Key capabilities for partitioning investments and ensuring coherence, alignment, and joint execution across multiple teams

    Context IV: Enduring Enterprise

    Steering, managing risk, and assuring performance at scale and over increasing time horizons and increasingly complex ecosystems

  • Acronyms and Abbreviations contains the list of acronyms and abbreviations used in this document

Background and Intended Value of this Work

Applied computing, now popularly termed “digital technology”, is transforming economies and societies worldwide. Digital investments are critical for modern organizations. Participating in their delivery (i.e., working to create and manage them for value) can provide prosperity for both individuals and communities. Computing programs worldwide are under pressure to produce an increasing number of qualified professionals to meet a voracious workforce demand. Skill requirements have undergone a seismic shift over the past 20 years. Digital Practitioners require a wide variety of skills and competencies, including cloud architecture and operations, continuous delivery and deployment, collaboration, Agile and Lean methods, product management, and more.

Industry guidance has, over the years, become fragmented into many overlapping and sometimes conflicting bodies of knowledge, frameworks, and industry standards. The emergence of Agile [Agile Alliance 2001] and DevOps [Kim et al. 2013] as dominant delivery forms has thrown this already fractured ecosystem of industry guidance into chaos. Organizations with longstanding commitments to existing bodies of knowledge are reassessing those commitments. Changes in digital delivery are happening too fast for generational turnover to suffice.

Mid-career IT professionals, who still anticipate many more years in the workforce, are especially at risk. Learning new “digital” approaches is not optional for them. But how to reconcile these new practices with the legacy “best practices” that characterized these workers’ initial professional education? Now is the time to re-assess and synthesize new guidance reflecting the developing industry consensus on how digital and IT professionals should approach their responsibilities. Modern higher education is not keeping pace. There has been too much of a gap between academic theory and classroom instruction versus the day-to-day practices of managing digital products.

The Digital Practitioner in today’s work environment thus encounters a confusing and diverse array of opinions and diverging viewpoints. This document aims to provide a foundational set of concepts for the practitioner to make sense of the landscape they find in any organization attempting to deliver digital products. It strives to put both old and new in a common context, with a well-supported analysis of professional practice. Practically, it should be of value for both academic and industry training purposes.

In conclusion, this document is intended broadly for the development of the Digital Practitioner or professional. It seeks to provide guidance for both new entrants into the digital workforce as well as experienced practitioners seeking to update their understanding on how all the various themes and components of digital and IT management fit together in the new world.

Sources of Material

While this document draws from a wide variety of industry sources, there are two primary sources of material of this work.

The Forums of The Open Group

The Open Group has a number of different related programs of work that have contributed substantially to the content of and interest in this document. The initial groundwork was laid by the Digital Business Customer Experience (DBCX) Work Group, which was the predecessor to the Digital Practitioners Work Group, the current maintainers of this document. In addition, this document is informed by and makes reference to other Forums of The Open Group, including:

  • The Architecture Forum

  • The IT4IT™ Forum

The University of St. Thomas

This work is in part derived from material developed by Charles Betz between 2014 and 2017 for use in teaching in the Graduate Programs in Software Engineering at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, for SEIS 660 (IT Infrastructure Management), replaced by SEIS 664 (Information Technology Delivery). Graduate Programs in Software at University of St. Thomas offers Masters degrees in Software Engineering, Data Science, Information Technology, and Software Management. It is the largest program of its kind in the US, and emphasizes the rigorous, realistic preparation of practitioners. No suitable collegiate texts were available providing comprehensive survey coverage of the digital/Lean/Agile transition and its impacts on IT management generally, so this material was developed collaboratively, incrementally, and iteratively via an open GitHub™ project over the course of three years.

Relationship to Prior Publications

The resulting textbook, Managing Digital: Concepts and Practices [G183], was contributed by its author and published by The Open Group Press to serve as an experiment in collaborative, open source document development, and also to support worldwide distribution on a low/no-cost basis. That material is separate and distinct from this document, but the agreement allows for the “harvesting” of material from that text. Such harvesting will not be cited, as it is expected to be substantial. The reader of both documents will, therefore, notice deliberate similarities and identical passages. However, the textbook also includes extensive quotations, sidebars, anecdotes, cases, tangential elements, personal observations, exercises, and so forth that will not be found in this document. In general, this document is briefer, drier, and written with a normative should/shall/may/must framing; see IETF RFC 2119 [IETF 1997]. Eventually, the textbook may be the basis for a “Guide”, supporting this document in the same way that, for example, IT4IT™ for Managing the Business of IT [G160] supports the IT4IT Standard. See definitions of Standard versus Guide in The Open Group Standards Process.

Curation Approach

Relationship of This Document to Other Bodies of Knowledge

This document may source knowledge from other bodies of knowledge. One of the reasons for the existence of this document is that a constellation of new best practices and approaches based on cloud, Agile, Lean, and DevOps is overtaking older approaches based on physical infrastructure, project management, process management, and functional specialization. The Phoenix Project [Kim et al. 2013] is a useful introduction to the new approaches; evidence of their effectiveness can be seen in the publicly available videos of practitioner case studies presented at the DevOps Enterprise Summit.

Interpretive Aspects

This document is not merely an assemblage of other sources, however. It includes well-grounded synthesis and interpretation of the curated source material. See Principles of the DPBoK Standard for further information.

Evidence of Notability

In the current fast-paced digital economy, curating notable and rigorous work by individuals on a fair-use basis into the standard seems advisable.

This will require ongoing discussion and debate as to the relevance and notability of the material. DevOps, design thinking, Agile methods, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE), and many other concepts have emerged of late. How do we know that they are notable and relevant? That they have staying power and merit inclusion? A proposed set of heuristics follows:

  • Existence of an organized community – is there evidence for a concept’s interest in terms of practitioners self-identifying under its banner and choosing to spend their resources attending local, national, or international events?

  • Notable publications – are books available in print on the topic from reputable publishers and garnering notable reader reviews?

  • Media and analyst coverage – is there is an active community of professional commentary and analysis, where attention to a given topic is also evidence of notability?

    Social media attention is an important, but not conclusive, subset of this class of evidence (it can be too easily manipulated).

The use of a given body of knowledge or other guidance as broadly used audit criteria (e.g., cloud provider compliance) shall be construed as evidence of notability.