This element accepts the results of the previously cited element as an input, namely, the definition of alternative architectures for the overall system. The essence of this element is to carry out a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the alternatives, resulting in a preferred system architecture. However, this cannot be performed without several other elements, as shown in Figure 7.4. Key inputs are required from the following other elements:
• Technical performance measurement (TPM)
• Risk analysis
• Concurrent engineering
• Systems engineering management
Secondary inputs are necessary as well from
• Integrated logistics support (ILS)
• Reliability, maintainability, availability (RMA)
• Quality assurance and management (QA&M)
• Specialty engineering
• Preplanned product improvement (P3I)
Also shown in Figure 7.4 are two additional aspects of this element—the definition of evaluation criteria and an evaluation framework within which to carry out the assessment of alternatives.
At the completion of this element, the systems engineering team has produced a preferred system architecture together with the analysis that supports the selection. In short, it is not enough to simply select a preferred architecture; it is also necessary to explain why and how that architecture was selected, both to oneself as well as to the customer. Many system development efforts have gone astray as the preferred architecture was arrived at through some type of leap of faith without a clear demonstration of its superiority in relation to other alternatives. This has been particularly true when the contractor has chosen a proprietary or ''closed'' system architecture.
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