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The Systems Engineer’s Role in Project Success . J. H Rothenberg May 1, 2006. Project Success. Mission Success and Project Success are not the same Mission Success is measured by results against requirements and is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for Project Success

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project success
Project Success
  • Mission Success and Project Success are not the same
  • Mission Success is measured by results against requirements and is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient for Project Success
  • Project Success is measured by both reality and perceptions of the stakeholders that varies over the project lifecycle
  • The project Systems Engineer is key to Mission Success and as such is a key partner with the Project Manager in enabling Project Success
project stakeholders
Project Stakeholders
  • Project Advocates
    • NASA Administrator
    • Program Executive
    • Sponsoring HQ Directorate
    • Science Community
    • Prime Contractors
  • Project Sponsors & Oversight
    • NASA Administrator
    • Sponsoring HQ Directorate
    • NASA Comptroller
    • Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP)& Office of Management & Budget(OMB)
    • Congress
    • Center Director & Institutional Managers
  • Project Execution
    • Program Executive
    • Center Director & Institutional Managers
    • Project Manager
    • Systems Engineer
    • Prime contractor
    • Development and Operations Team
systems engineering
Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering

“an approach to engineering that emphasizes the scientific method and examination of all aspects of the engineering project”*

Systems Engineering Product

Ensuring within an acceptable risk level the delivery of a competitive cost and technically effective system to meet an objective **

*Source: Encarta Encyclopedia

** Source: Anonymous - found on a discarded note pad in the GSFC Library

challenges to mission success
Challenges to Mission Success
  • Science risk
  • Systems engineering leadership
  • Requirements definition & stability
  • Programmatic resource constraints
  • Enabling technology maturity
  • Project mission complexity/risks
  • System integration complexity
  • System resources margins
  • Opportunity for risks to be introduces occur at every stage of a program but many are built-in during the early stages of a program
      • Science measurement risk
      • Schedule driven development decisions and before requirements are solidified
      • Technical complexity of the mission
      • Design choices and margins
      • Technology maturity assumptions
      • Analysis, test and operations program designed to meet budgets
      • Optimistic schedule and cost projections required to sell the program
      • Development cost and schedule Risk
      • Residual Mission Success risks at launch
  • Risks are all viewed differently by each stakeholder and their risk tolerance changes over a project’s life cycle
characteristics of project success
Characteristics of Project Success
  • Mission Success
  • No surprises
  • Cost growth funding without major impact to other programs
  • Leave a Project legacy in approach/ technology/ programmatic success
  • No surprises
  • Mission Success
typical challenges as viewed by a project manager
Typical Challenges as Viewed by a Project Manager

Project Formulation = Sell phase

  • Attract staff for Study Team
  • Concept design - Innovative
  • Mission design – Affordable & low risk
  • Make/buy decision

Design Phase = Meet requirements & manage risk within shrinking margins

  • System design – More affordable & prudent risk management plan

Phase C/D Budget Allocation = Reallocation of resources & survival phase

  • Reduced capability, margins & risk reduction plans
  • Budget cuts
  • Reduced margins & risk reduction plans
  • Navigate development challenges & control expectations
  • Reduced margins & risk reduction plans
  • Absorb budget cuts and cost growth

Launch & Operational Commissioning = I’m done

  • Give keys to operations and find another job
systems engineering opportunities to enhance probability of project success
Systems Engineering Opportunities to Enhance Probability of Project Success

Provide proactive technical leadership

  • Mission Design and System Requirements Trades
    • Leading the prioritization and controlling of requirements
    • Identify and ensure stakeholder recognition inherent residual risk at launch and options for mitigation
    • System architecture and interface choices
    • Build in options and decision points for descope
  • System Design and Analysis
    • Use cost as design parameter
  • System Risk Mitigation and Management Plans
    • Recognize and appropriately plan programmatic and mission risk mitigation and management
  • System and Operations Development Technical Management
    • Ensure stakeholder recognition of risks resulting from external environment changes
    • ConOps & operations design to safe, reliable and cost effective mission operations
management tools to enable probability of project success
Management Tools to Enable Probability of Project Success

Make stakeholders a partner through open and frequent upward communications of baseline and changes

  • Mission requirements & commitments
  • Technical and programmatic risks and mitigation plans
  • Resource requirements including reserves and technical resources margins
  • Buy-in to Project unique challenges and residual risks
  • Descope options with key decision points
  • Impact of externally imposed changes
  • Residual risks “at launch”
management tools to enable probability of project success14
Management Tools to Enable Probability of Project Success

Routine open upward and downward communications supportive to reporting problems/impacts at all levels

  • Informational/ trends/ problems & solutions in-work/need for management actions

- Weekly “Top Ten” - informational for all stakeholders

    • Monthly - resources commitments/margins
  • Routine informational visits to stakeholders & open invitation to attend reviews
  • Build trust and a partnership with all stakeholders

Ensure appropriate “external’ independent reviews

mission and project success
Mission and Project Success

Requires the Project Manager and Systems Engineer to:

  • Understand the external and internal environment at all times
  • Take lead in baseline and control of requirements
  • Establish realistic baseline, key descope opportunities/decision points and make stakeholders a partner
  • Maintain open communications
  • Anticipate outcomes and control stakeholder expectations – No surprises
  • Independent review used appropriately are OK and should be viewed as both an oversight and communications channel
  • Active management - use runway before you

No Surprises