Unifying Software Engineering and Systems Engineering

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Rapid change in information
technology brings with it a frequent
need to undo the effects
of previous culture change
efforts. This process, while
often challenging and frustrating, offers
numerous rewards for success. Organizations
can change from slow, reactive,
adversarial, separated software and systems
engineering processes to unified,
concurrent processes. These processes
better suit rapid development of dynamically
changing software-intensive systems
involving COTS, agent, Web, multimedia,
and Internet technology.

Culture changes are never easy, however.
For example, in the mid-1970s,
I participated in a group at TRW that created
a corporate software engineering
culture around the sequential requirements-
driven waterfall model. The effort
included corporate policies and standards,
training courses administered by
managers, and even stringent test on software
policies.

We did not realize how effective this
culture change was until we tried to undo
parts of it a few years later. By the early
1980s, we and other companies realized
that the waterfall model was ineffective
for developing user-interactive systems,
in which prototypes rather than exhaustive
processing specifications proved
more effective in determining the most
appropriate product characteristics

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