Systems Engineering Guide for Systems of Systems

Keywords system of systems

The purpose of this guide is to address systems engineering (SE) considerations for integrating independently useful systems into a larger system that delivers unique capabilities—a system of systems (SoS)—within the Department of Defense (DoD). Drawing from the lessons of current SoS SE practitioners, the guide is intended to provide a resource for systems engineers who are supporting SoS work, particularly as part of an SE team for an SoS. This initial version of the guide begins the process of understanding and guiding SE for SoS. In some cases, given the limited understanding in this area, the guide raises issues for awareness which may need to be addressed by systems engineers doing SoS work, but it does not provide practical advice on the issues. As experience with SoS grows, subsequent versions of the guide will expand in scope and detail. This guide assumes an understanding of SE, including chapter 4, “Systems Engineering” of the Defense Acquisition Guidebook (DAG) [DoD, 2004].1 This guide is intended as a reference only and not as a comprehensive SE manual.

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In 2006, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology charged the Systems and Software Engineering Directorate to develop a guide for systems engineering for systems of systems (SoS), recognizing the value of systems engineering as a key enabler of successful systems acquisition and the growing importance of systems interdependencies in the achievement of war fighter capability.

The Systems Engineering Guide for Systems of Systems (Version 1.0) provides today’s systems engineering practitioners with well grounded, practical guidance on what to expect as they work in today’s increasingly complex systems environment and tackle the challenges of systems of systems. This guide is a step in supporting the systems engineering community to adapt systems engineering processes to address the changing nature of today’s world increasingly characterized by networked systems and systems of systems.

Version 1.0 updates the initial v.9 publication of this guide with extensive input from systems engineering practitioners working to address SoS today. It builds on our initial research, with their experiences and highlights characteristics of SoS in the Department of Defense, identifies common practices for the SoS systems engineer, and shares emerging principles for successful SoS SE practices. I wish to acknowledge the work of the research team which produced this guide, including Dr. Judith Dahmann of the MITRE Corporation who led the development effort along with George Rebovich (MITRE Corporation), Jo Ann Lane (University of Southern California), and Ralph Lowry (MTSI, Incorporated) who provided the core technical support to the development of the guide. Dr. Karen Richter and others at the Institute for Defense Analyses provided invaluable editorial support in our final production.

The guide builds upon the work performed by the Stevens Institute of Technology, which produced the first publication of the guide, and provided the foundation for version 1.0 development. Most importantly, the utility of the guide is directly drawn from the many practitioners who generously shared their experiences as the basis for the guide’s contents and to the large number of reviewers across our government, industry and academic engineering community who have made the time and effort to provide their inputs. This has ensured it reflects the needs and experiences of the SE community.

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