The Systems Approach As Integrator

The systems approach as well as the thirty elements of systems engineering (see Chapter 7), also have an integrative influence, both explicitly and implicitly. By identifying the thirty elements, all activities can be viewed in the context of how they affect, and are affected by, the other elements. For example, when carrying out the reliability-maintainability-availability (RMA) and integrated logistics support (ILS) elements, the engineers must be cognizant of the architecture design and synthesis element as well as several others.

Three of the thirty elements of systems engineering, however, are more sharply related to integrative management, namely:

• Integration

• Interface control

• Concurrent engineering

Integration, in a systems engineering context, refers to the connecting of pieces of hardware and software to make larger builds. In this framework, we are integrating structures, whether they be chunks of hardware or program code. Successful integration requires that all the interfaces be correct so that the pieces, in fact, are able to interoperate in the intended manner. Many projects and systems engineering efforts have failed because of major integration problems.

A related element is that of interface control. In this case, we make explicit the need to examine and control all interfaces as a singular element of systems engineering. By doing so, we are also assisting in the process of integrative management because we are systematically examining all interfaces and attempting to assure that successful integration is achieved. It is also a means whereby potential problems are uncovered before they create havoc with the integrated system, including the backtracking and reengineering of major parts of the system.

Concurrent engineering, another of the thirty elements of systems engineering and discussed in Chapters 7 and 9, has been formally defined as [13.5]:

A systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related processes, including manufacture and support . . . intended to cause the developers, from the outset, to consider all elements of the product life cycle from concept through disposal, including quality, cost, schedule, and user requirements.

The emphasis for concurrent engineering is on the word ''concurrent,'' strongly supporting parallel activities that bring all the required disciplines together at all stages of the life cycle of a system. It is also clearly related to the notions of IPTs, cross-, multifunctional, and multidisciplinary teams. The reader with a further interest in concurrent engineering is referred to the many books as well as a bibliography [13.6] on this subject.

An overview of the systems approach was presented in Section 1.4 of Chapter 1. This approach, embedded in the processes of systems engineering, is a major factor in integrative management.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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