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Participating in a Workgroup

Where can I find the most up-to-date information about workgroups?

Who can participate in a workgroup?

All HTNG memberships include membership in at least one of our two forums. Any HTNG member whose membership is in good standing and includes participation in the forum under which the workgroup operates, is eligible to participate in workgroups, but you must apply.

Workgroup meetings are generally restricted to people employed by member companies of the workgroup, but there are a number of exceptions:

  • Members applying to join the workgroup or provisional members.
    • For face-to-face workgroup meetings, the per-meeting fee applies, as described on the Forum Fees page.
  • Non-members of HTNG can attend one meeting of one Forum, with a maximum of two people, for the purpose of evaluating the value of joining HTNG. This requires the approval of the workgroup chair or at least one co-chair, and of HTNG
    • For face-to-face workgroup meetings, the per-meeting fee applies, as described on the Forum Fees page.
  • HTNG staff, contractors, and board members
  • Invited guest speakers who would not normally qualify as regular or industry partner members, with approval of the workgroup chair or at least one co-chair
  • Non-members of HTNG who provide needed specialized services or expertise to the workgroup on a voluntary basis, by vote of the full workgroup

How do I get involved with a workgroup?

  • You can request to join a workgroup by submitting this webform.
  • If you haven't yet registered with HTNG, please enroll; you will be assigned credentials and will gain access to our members only collaboration site.

Should I apply to actively participate in a workgroup, or just monitor progress?

You should apply to participate if you believe that your company can represent an important aspect of the problem and/or solution, and if you are willing to provide resources to the degree outlined in the workgroup's charter.

Observing the progress of a workgroup is also a valid option for many members. This can be accomplished by requesting to join a mailing list.

Hotelier members who would only like to participate in an advisory manner during direction setting meetings that occur less frequently (2-3x per year), please request to become a business advisor instead.

How can I monitor progress on what a workgroup is doing without actively participating?

All HTNG members have read-only access to the HTNG Collaboration Site and can view workgroup documents, meeting details, etc. at any time. If you would like to subscribe to the mailing list of an HTNG Workgroup(s), please submit a request to join a mailing list - you'll receive all the emails sent to the active workgroup members. You can also use the RSS link on the workgroup's page of the collaboration site.

My company wants to participate in a workgroup. How do I apply?

First, read the charter for the particular workgroup carefully. Then, read the current HTNG workgroup policies.

For information on applying to an existing workgroup, click here.

To register your interest for a prospective or incubation workgroup (one that has not yet started meeting or is in the process of developing a charter), click here.

Does it cost anything to participate in a workgroup?

While basic workgroup participation is included in all memberships, there are some situations where additional fees may apply.

  • All HTNG memberships include membership in one or more forums. If your membership does not include the forum of the workgroup in which you wish to participate, you must upgrade to a membership that includes multiple forums (or you can drop your current forum and add the new one at no cost).
  • Forum fees include the attendance of one person at each Forum/Workgroup face-to-face meeting; additional attendees from one company are subject to an additional per-meeting fee. For details, click here.

If I participate in a workgroup, do I have to contribute information about things my company considers proprietary?

No. Each company must evaluate the benefit of wider adoption of some particular solution, versus the potential loss of competitive advantage from sharing information. You may choose to share certain fundamental approaches with the entire workgroup, but reserve some more sophisticated elements for your company and/or its chosen partners. The portions that you share may become part of the HTNG solution set, while the portions you withhold remain your intellectual property.

Can I contribute intellectual property and still retain rights?

Yes, but you must disclose the rights you wish to retain at the time that you contribute it. You may, for example, contribute a solution on which you claim patent rights, and reserve the right to negotiate royalties under RAND principles, or otherwise. Please see the Intellectual Property section of our workgroup policies for details.

Do workgroup participants sign non-disclosure agreements?

Not within the context of the workgroup. All topics discussed within the workgroup are considered open to all HTNG members, and can be expected to eventually be released to the public domain.

Workgroup participants are welcome to enter into non-disclosure agreements with each other, outside the context of HTNG and the workgroup. This may be appropriate, for example, if certain participants want to develop extensions to the base workgroup solution, but do not want to share those extensions with other participants, who may be competitors. However, while those extensions may be built on top of the workgroup's efforts, they are not considered to be part of that effort.

Workgroup Operations

How are new workgroups formed?

Any HTNG member or group of members can propose a new workgroup. HTNG staff will work with the members to evaluate the proposal, to assess member interest, and to solicit participation. If sufficient interest is found, an "incubation" workgroup will be formed, with the purpose of drafting a charter and for submission to the HTNG Board of Directors. The incubation workgroup may meet in person or by teleconference, generally over several weeks, to define the charter.

A typical charter has:

  • A concise statement of the business problem to be solved.
  • A statement of deliverables to be expected in about six months (and optionally, for additional time periods beyond six months).
  • A project plan.
  • A list of companies and persons who are committed to participation.

Charters should generally be narrow rather than broad. The first deliverables MUST be well defined, which often means that participants must negotiate what will be prioritized and delivered from among competing visions. The first deliverables must also be supported by a high-level project plan that proves that they can reasonably be produced in a six-month time frame.

Charters are evaluated by a subcommittee formed by the Board of Directors. Once a charter has been approved by the subcommittee, the workgroup becomes a Chartered Workgroup and starts to work on their deliverables in accordance with their project plan, with regular meetings. At that point it elects a chair (or co-chairs), is assigned a staff facilitator and a board advisor, gets a collaboration site for document sharing, a wiki site for a high level workgroup overview, and receives other support that it may need to be fully productive.

Non-members of HTNG may participate in incubation workgroups, but once a workgroup is formally chartered, they must join HTNG to continue participating. This policy protects prospective members from joining specifically because of one workgroup, only to find that that workgroup has prioritized activities that are not of interest to them.

When and where do workgroups meet?

This decision is determined by each workgroup. Typically, active workgroups meet by tele/webconference every 1-2 weeks. A current meeting schedule can be found on the HTNG Meeting & Event Calendar.

A number of workgroups also meet face-to-face one to five times per year in North America and in Europe. Generally, they meet either around an HTNG Members' Meetings or independently, as part of a Forum meeting.

How long do workgroups last?

Workgroups are normally chartered for periods of 12 to 18 months; some workgroups may have shorter lifetimes, and workgroup lifetimes may be extended if needed.

What do workgroups deliver?

Workgroups are expected to produce deliverables as defined in their charters. These deliverables are often defined as solutions implemented by vendors based on specifications and/or guidelines published by the workgroup, which enable software or hardware to interoperate successfully with other products.

While the end objective is product that vendors are selling and hotels are buying, it is obviously the vendors, rather than the workgroup itself, that achieve this. Nevertheless, the workgroup's objective should be more than simply writing a specification - it should be actively facilitating and ensuring the adoption of those specifications.

The workgroup may specify a minimal level of functionality that is required to be considered compliant, and may ratify this decision by making the specification part of the HTNG branding and certification program. Individual groups of vendors are encouraged to build additional capabilities into their specific offerings.

Do workgroups establish standards?

HTNG's focus is solution sets, not standards. However, HTNG's workgroups may select standards, work with standards bodies to modify standards or, if necessary, create standards where no usable ones exist.

Specifications & Certification

Where can I find HTNG specifications?

  • Once released to the public, specifications are housed here.

Is there a list of certified products?

Is there a list of specifications by product type?

How often are HTNG specifications released?

  • There are two releases per year in HTNG's Certification Cycle, approximately one every six months. For dates and deadlines of the upcoming cycle, please check our Certification Schedule.

What should I do if I want to certify my product?

Will HTNG certify compliance with specifications developed by workgroups?

Yes. HTNG workgroups can submit completed specifications and compliance criteria to the HTNG Certification program. For approved specifications, vendors can certify their compliant products and will be eligible for using the "HTNG Certified" logo. Visit the certification site for details.

How does HTNG support vendors who produce solution sets in conjunction with a workgroup?

While the format may vary from workgroup to workgroup depending on the types of deliverables, HTNG is conceptually committed to providing equal access to all vendors who want to, and are able to; participate in joint demonstrations, marketing campaigns, case studies, events, conference presentations, and other marketing activities. HTNG will provide logistical support to efforts that it believes are of general industry interest and/or that further HTNG's mission. HTNG may also provide funding support to such efforts, provided that all similarly situated HTNG members are given the opportunity to participate equally.

Who owns the specifications developed by HTNG workgroups?

HTNG owns the specifications. Specifications are available for member use until the workgroup that produced them is disbanded, or until the specifications are submitted to the HTNG certification program. At that point, HTNG contributes them to the public domain under a freely available license. Companies that contribute intellectual property that they know is, may be, or may become encumbered, for example by patents, must disclose the actual or potential encumbrance at the time of contribution. See the HTNG Workgroup Policies page for full details.

HTNG Terminology

  • Forum - There are currently two forums within HTNG, the Software Forum and the Infrastructure and Device Forum. Forums provide a meeting place for coordination, cross-pollination, learning, and marketing. Forums provide:
    • Periodic face-to-face meetings to learn and share information on topics of general interest
    • Support for coordinating efforts across workgroups to maximize reuse and minimize duplication of effort
    • The opportunity to make personal contacts with potential buyers, sellers, and partners
    • Collaborative environments to market the results of workgroup efforts to benefit both the participating vendors, and those who have implemented the resulting solutions
  • Workgroup - There are multiple workgroups that exist in HTNG and operate within the forums. They are comprised of a small group of industry experts, working towards creating solutions to a specific industry problem or problems. These individuals are typically from the hotel and vendor community but are sometimes from consulting disciplines, academia, media, or other associations. Workgroups meet regularly by teleconference and periodically at face-to-face meetings to design and implement solutions to specific business or technical problems. Typically, hotel participants represent the requirements of buyers, and vendors contribute and/or work together to design technology solutions.
  • Product Specification - A document that references one or more related technical specifications that are identified by name and version. A product specification helps a company decide to which technical specification their product should certify. Click here for more information.
  • Technical Specification - The primary work product of the workgroup; describes the requirements for two or more systems to be able to interconnect and inter-operate seamlessly. Click here for more information.
  • Conformance Statement Questionnaire - A questionnaire filled out by the vendor that includes formal, structured statements, describing how an HTNG-certified product conforms to an HTNG product specification. Click here for current conformance statement questionnaires, or here for examples of conformance statements for current HTNG-certified products.
  • Business Advisor - A hotelier or consultant member of HTNG that participates in a workgroup on an occasional basis, specifically when the workgroup needs input about business needs to drive the work product (more info about the Business Advisor program).
  • Board Liaison - An HTNG Board member (director) or Executive Advisor that is assigned to a workgroup to provide guidance. Workgroups should schedule meetings with their liaisons periodically to obtain feedback on the progress of the workgroup.
  • Board Member - HTNG's Board of Directors consists of CIO-level (or equivalent) IT executives from hotel companies, and provide the overall strategic direction and guidance for the organization.
  • Executive Advisor - Experienced industry executives who can attend and participate in HTNG board meetings on a non-voting basis. The majority of Executive Advisors are either former board members who no longer work for hotel companies, or consultants or academics who were involved in the founding of HTNG.
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