Multi-tier Agreements from Nick Malik

Nick Malik posted a great followup comment to my last post on service contracts. For all of you who just follow my blog via the RSS feed, I thought I’d repost the comment here.

The fascinating thing about service contract standardization, a point that you hit on at the end of your post, is that it is not substantially different from the standardization of terms and conditions that occurs for legal agreements or sales agreements in an organization.

I am a SOA architect and a member of my Enterprise Architecture team, as you are, but I’m also intimately familiar with solutions that perform Contract Generation from Templates in the Legal and Sales agreements for a company. My employer sells over 80% of their products through the use of signed agreements. When you run $3B of revenue, per month, through agreements, standardization is not just useful. It is essential.

When you sign an agreement, you may sign more than one. They are called “multi-tier� agreements, in that an agreement requires that a prior one is signed, in a chain. There are also “associated agreements� that are brought together to form an “agreement package�. When you last bought a car, and you walked out with 10 different signed documents, you experienced the agreement package firsthand.

These two concepts can be leveraged for SOA governance in terms of agreements existing in a multi-tier environment, as well as services existing in an ecosystem of agreements that are part of an associated package.

For example, you could have one of four different supporting agreements that the deployment team must agree to as part of the package. All four could rely on the same “common terms and taxonomy� agreement that every development and deployment team signs (authored by Enterprise Architecture, of course). And you could have a pair of agreements that influence the service itself: one agreement that all consumers must sign that governs the behavioural aspects of the service for all consumers, and another agreement that can be customized that governs the information, load, and SLA issues for each provider-consumer pair.

If this kind of work is built using an automated agreement management system, then the metadata for an agreement package can easily be extracted and consumed by automated governance monitoring systems. We certainly feed our internal ERP system with metadata from our sales agreements.

Something to think about…

One Response to “Multi-tier Agreements from Nick Malik”

Leave a Reply


This blog represents my own personal views, and not those of my employer or any third party. Any use of the material in articles, whitepapers, blogs, etc. must be attributed to me alone without any reference to my employer. Use of my employers name is NOT authorized.