The Business Case for Systems Engineering Study: Results of the Systems Engineering Effectiveness Survey

Keywords business case systems engineering

The first step in building a business case for SE is to identify the SE practices that have a measurable impact on project performance. This identification was accomplished via the SE Effectiveness Survey, which surveyed system developers to identify SE principles and practices applied to development projects and the performance achieved by those projects. The SE Effectiveness Survey was designed to test the hypothesis. The effective performance of SE best practices on a development program yields quantifiable improvements in program execution (e.g., improved cost performance, schedule performance, and technical performance).

Test of this hypothesis requires both a means of assessing the SE activities applied to a project and a means of assessing the performance of that project. The process used to develop this survey consisted of three steps:

1. Define the survey population and sampling process.
2. Develop and test the questionnaire.
3. Design the solicitation campaign.

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This report summarizes the results of a survey that had the goal of quantifying the connection between the application of systems engineering (SE) best practices to projects and programs and the performance of those projects and programs. The survey population consisted of projects and programs executed by system developers reached through the National Defense Industrial Association Systems Engineering Division (NDIA-SED), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (IEEE-AESS), and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). Analysis of survey responses revealed strong statistical relationships between project performance and several categories of specific SE best practices. The survey results show notable differences in the relationship between SE best practices and performance between more challenging and less challenging projects. The statistical relationship with project performance is quite strong for survey data of this kind when both SE capability and project challenge are considered together.

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