System Development Process

An Integrated Master Plan (IMP) is at its heart a system development process plan. The concept combines the best practices of systems engineering, requirements engineering, and lean software development. In the engineering literature, there are many views of the system development process. Some focus on the many stages of requirements analysis and definition, while others focus on the stages of the product life cycle. Other views emphasize the modeling required at each level to validate the requirements and the development of independent testing programs that will be used to verify system performance and acceptance. We suggest that each company take the best of these views by which you think will best meet the challenges presented by the realities of your own dynamic project. But at the heart of this development process should be lean management approaches to software development and the use of best practices of Systems Engineering (SE).

Our SE approach of using both the near-term and the long-term requirements in the development process of systems works well in many cases because products such as software can be structured to be an iterative process over time — as long as optionality is preserved in the beginning — to meet the longer-term goals. A more expedient, lean type of requirements mapping, such as agile software development, can be used for the near-term solutions, to address existing business needs, while a very robust SE approach can be used for the long-term requirements of the overall goal. The reality is that you never reach all long-term requirements; rather, you expand the realm of opportunity and continuously evolve the IMP to keep focused on what needs to be developed in each near-term cycle, as it rolls by, to enable the future development of the ever-evolving business. Thus the IMP is a live document.

The IMP should always have a long-term view, thus also enabling R&D to be focused now at places where new techniques and tools will be needed in future years. In this way, CALM implements long-term goals while continuously tracking short-term payback and ROI. Strategies change over time, and so will the requirements as the future vision evolves, thus minimizing the risk of not meeting the challenges of the future.