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Is System Design Worthwhile? Will your Project be Faster with Systems Engineering?

Time to Read 2 min  

When you do a project with us, we always do a System Design phase at the beginning (for fully agile projects in the first sprints). That is, we live our System Design process, in which two key documents are created:

  • the System Specification ("Pflichtenheft") with all requirements
  • and the System Architecture with the distribution of the functions to the components of the system and the selection of the key components

additionally also

  • a draft Test Specification
  • and the Interface Specifications

For these phases we estimate about 10% of the total project effort.

Does this effort make sense?

Does it make sense to spend this considerable amount of time and effort?

On the one hand there are good reasons for a system design phase, on the other hand there is objective evidence for systems engineering, as the activity is called as a separate discipline. E.g. in E.C. Honour: "Understanding the Value of Systems Engineering" Project success is measured in effort reduction, schedule adherence and quality improvement. Also in J.P. Elm et al: "The Business Case for Systems Engineering Study: Results of the Effectiveness Survey" the same picture is shown, project success correlates with systems engineering.

On the one hand there are good reasons for a system design phase, on the other hand there is objective evidence for systems engineering, as the activity is called as a separate discipline. E.g. in E.C. Honour: "Understanding the Value of Systems Engineering" results an optimal share of 15..20% of the project effort for systems engineering. The optimal project success is measured in effort reduction, schedule adherence and quality improvement. In J.P. Elm et al: "The Business Case for Systems Engineering Study: Results of the Effectiveness Survey" the same picture shows itself, project success correlates with systems engineering.

The numbers are not that far away from our 10% (note that the 15..20% resulted for very large projects!). So there is evidence that system design is profitable, that frontloading is worthwhile here as well.

Andreas Stucki

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