Requirements Analysis And Allocation


Requirements analysis and allocation (RAA) has become a critically important element of systems engineering. All of the later elements of systems engineering are carried out with one dominant question in mind: Are we in fact satisfying the system requirements in the best possible (most cost-effective) manner? Thus, as we architect, build, and test the system, we continuously return to the requirements to be sure that we are completely satisfying them. All systems engineering activities thus can be said to revolve around the stated requirements, as defined by the user or acquisition agent for the system.

Requirements are defined during the very early stages of the system life cycle. However, they are often incomplete and inappropriately stated. This leads to difficulties in architecting and designing a system as well as controversies between the system developer and the user. This can be exacerbated because requirements are not easily changed, even when found to be inadequate. This flows from the contract mechanisms and rules of competition that often surround the system acquisition process. Attempts to improve or reconcile requirements take time and cost money, thus putting additional pressure on the systems engineering team in terms of meeting stringent time and cost constraints. Poor requirements are perhaps the most mentioned issue when examining reasons why systems engineering and development efforts ultimately result in lack of performance as well as cost and schedule overruns.

Requirements may represent problem areas even when dealing with upgrades to an existing system. In such a case, the context is often that it has not been adequately proven that there is a set of validated operational requirements. As an example, a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) to the Acting Secretary of the Air Force claimed that certain planned upgrades were not based on validated requirements [8.1], with the following statement:

Upgrade of System 8 ground station software and hardware is premature because the Air Force has not yet validated operational requirements. Validated requirements are needed to verify the need for planned DSP ground station upgrades. DOD Instruction 5000.2 and Air Force Regulation 57-1 require that an operational requirements document, identifying minimum acceptable performance characteristics, be prepared for all major weapon systems such as DSP. An operational requirements document identifies the minimum acceptable performance required to satisfy mission needs and is used to establish test criteria for operational test and evaluation.

From this, it follows that the prudent user, acquisition agent, Project Manager (PM), and Chief Systems Engineer (CSE) will pay a great deal of attention to the matter of requirements. Therefore, RAA becomes a central focus for the systems engineering effort.

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