The Allegory of the Humidifier: ROI for Systems Engineering

Keywords The Allegory of the Humidifier: ROI for Systems Engineering
Standards groups

Systems engineering optimizes the whole system, cost, reliability, environmental
considerations, ergonomics, maintainability, and the other myriad items that bear on the problem. It seeks an overall optimum solution and would, in this case, even consider eliminating electrostatically plotted drawings by
delivering drawings electronically, for example.

Convincing management of the importance of systems engineering—making
time available in the project schedule for systems analysis, generating specifications that define customer needs, and other arguments—always made sense to systems engineers from a risk reduction and cost-avoidance perspective. But as schedule crunches, today’s fire drill, and project cost reductions take hold, systems engineering often takes a back seat to getting
the hardware out the door.

This company could not afford the time and money up front to systems engineer
a valid approach. It thus made an initial decision not to invest in a solution
that, in the long run, would have avoided an additional 10X to 50X in costs.
Repetitive and ineffective bandage solutions, slipped program schedules, and
unknown amounts in lost productivity cost real money, too.

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Defines standard
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Mark E. Sampson, TD Technologies Inc.
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