Systems engineering is concerned with creating and executing an interdisciplinary process to ensure that the customer and stakeholder needs are satisfied in a high quality, trustworthy, cost efficient and schedule compliant
manner throughout a system's entire life cycle. Part of the complexity in understanding the cost involved with systems engineering is due to the diversity of definitions used by different systems engineers and the unique ways in
which systems engineering is used in practice.
The premier systems engineering society, INCOSE, has long debated the definition of systems engineering and only recently converged on the following:
Systems Engineering is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting
requirements, then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.
A constituency of practitioners familiar with the benefits provided by the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) in the realm of software engineering proposed the development of a model to focus on systems engineering.1 No
formal approach to estimating systems engineering existed at the time, partially because of the still maturing field of systems engineering as a formal discipline and the lack of mature metrics. The beginnings of systems engineering can be traced back to the Bell Telephone Laboratories in the 1940s.2 However, it was not until almost thirty years later that the first U.S. military standard was published.3 The first professional systems engineering society, INCOSE, was not organized until the early 1990s and the first commercial U.S. systems engineering standards, ANSI/EIA 632 and IEEE 1220, followed shortly thereafter. Even with the different approaches of defining systems engineering, the capability to estimate it is desperately needed by organizations. Several heuristics are available but they do not provide the necessary level of detail that is required to understand the most influential factors and their
sensitivity to cost.
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This paper provides an update on the systems engineering model (COSYSMO) being developed by the Center for Software Engineering at the University of Southern California in conjunction with its corporate affiliates and the International Council for Systems Engineering (INCOSE). The model will help organizations better estimate and plan their systems engineering activities that include development, integration, and test. In this light, the COSYSMO working group has focused on establishing the scope of the model through the ANSI/EIA 632 Systems Engineering standard. It was recognized early on that systems engineering activities varied extensively across organizations and projects. The key to collecting consistent data across disparate organizations was to clearly define the content in a WBS that was understandable by the systems engineering and cost estimation communities. Mappings have also established between each organization’s or project’s WBS elements and the COSYSMO standard WBS elements. The standardized WBS has become the framework for discussion of what systems engineering activities are included and excluded for a particular cost estimate. The paper will cover systems engineering and industry standards, the use of these standards in the COSYSMO model development process, and an analysis of the distribution of ANSI/EIA 632 activities covered in COSYSMO.