System Acquisition Essentials

The matter of project management and systems engineering can also be approached from the perspective of the customer interested in acquiring a system. Such a customer needs to do a considerable amount of planning in order to do so, even if another party is to actually carry out most of the project and the systems engineering that is part of the project. A typical example might be a government agency, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), that wishes to procure systems that will be responsive to its needs and requirements. In the case of the DOT, through its subordinate Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it may need to acquire a new radar as part of its air traffic control charter. NASA, as an example, may need to procure a new or upgraded satellite that will carry out a portion of its ''mission to planet earth'' initiative. In both cases, a typical plan calls for following a systems acquisition process set forth by the government, with a major role to be executed by a large systems contractor.

Most government agencies with needs such as those just described have evolved an acquisition process that has been institutionalized. This provides for clear communications and understandings both within the agency as well as between the agency and other groups such as systems engineering contractors. A generic acquisition process usually consists of phases such as those defined in Exhibit 2.1. These phases are normally sequential in time.

Exhibit 2.1: Typical System Acquisition Phases

Phase Name Phase Activities or Purposes

Prephase 0: Define mission need

Validate need

Assure that new system is required to fulfill need

Phase 0:

Identify alternative concepts

Evaluate feasibility of alternative concepts

Determine most promising concepts

Design alternative feasible systems

Demonstrate critical processes

Demonstrate critical technologies

Build and test early prototypes

Finalize preferred system design

Build system

Test and evaluate system

Produce system

Install system

Establish system logistics support Operate and maintain system in field Monitor performance of system Modify and improve system as necessary

Concept Definition

Phase 1: Concept Validation

Phase 2:

Engineering Development

Phase 3: Production and Deployment

Phase 4: Operations and Support

The Department of Defense (DoD) presents its acquisition phases as the ''DoD 5000 Acquisition Model'' [2.1]. This model shows four sequential phases, namely:

1. Concept and technology development

2. Systems development and demonstration

3. Production and deployment

4. Operations and support

Technology opportunities and user needs feed into these phases, as necessary and appropriate. Mission needs are articulated concurrently with the concept and technology development phase. An interim operational capability (IOC) is achieved during part of the production and deployment phase. In a parallel manner, a final operational capability (FOC) is present when entering the operations and support phase.

The DoD Defense Acquisition System, as it is called, employs a set of policies and principles that may be examined in the following five categories

1. Achievement of interoperability

2. Rapid and effective transition from science and technology to products

3. Rapid and effective transition from acquisition to deployment and fielding

4. Integrated and effective operational support

5. Effective management

Interoperability, especially between the various services, but also including with our allies, has been a key issue within the DoD for many years. With more rapid deployments and joint forces, these matters are of special and continuing importance. The two transition issues cited above indicate the determination of the DoD to assure technology transfer as well as the compression of schedules that have otherwise been unacceptable. The last above-cited item emphasizes the need for providing support in an integrated fashion. Integration cannot be properly achieved without interoperability. Finally, effective management is critical to satisfying needs in the other four category areas. Managing within an organization as large as the DoD is a major challenge that must be addressed on a continuing basis.

Other topics that are highlighted as parts of the above five areas include:

1. Time-phased requirements and communications with users

2. Use of commercial products, services, and technologies

3. Performance-based acquisition

4. Evolutionary acquisition

5. Integrated test and evaluation

6. Competition

7. Departmental commitment to production

8. Total systems approach

9. Logistics transformation

10. Tailoring

11. Cost and affordability

12. Program stability

13. Simulation-based acquisition

14. Innovation, continuous improvement, and lessons learned

15. Streamlined organizations and a professional workforce

A key paragraph under item (8) above, in terms of its relevance to this text, is [2.2]:

Acquisition programs shall be managed to optimize total system performance and minimize total ownership costs by addressing both the equipment and the human part of the total system equation, through application of systems engineering. Program managers shall give full consideration to all aspects of system support, including logistics planning; manpower, personnel and training; human, environmental, safety, occupational health, accessability, survivability, and security factors; and spectrum management and the operational electromagnetic environment.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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