Did you ever wonder if your work needs to be enabled to support an international community? Have you anticipated that the security features of your engineering will have to interoperate with other federal agencies or organizations in the same department? Do performance characteristics of capabilities beyond your control impact the performance of your endeavor?
"Enterprises" are interwoven sets of mission and business endeavors that need to coexist in a rapidly changing and evolving world. MITRE systems engineers (SEs) are expected to bring an enterprise perspective to their activities at whatever scale of the enterprise they operate: subsystem, system, system of system, or enterprise. SEs should take a comprehensive viewpoint across technical and nontechnical aspects of the problem space and use systems thinking to ask probing questions and trace the implications of potential answers across the enterprise. SEs work with ambiguous issues and partial information to frame the essence of the problem, to create strategies that consider all aspects of the problems and needs of the sponsor and beyond, and to engineer scalable, adaptable, and evolvable enterprise solutions that consider the larger stakeholder community.
In the SEG's introductory section The Evolution of Systems Engineering, MITRE staff considered the topic of "enterprise" and came up with the following working definition:
By 'enterprise' we mean a network of interdependent people, processes, and supporting technology not fully under the control of any single entity. In business literature, an enterprise frequently refers to an organization, such as a firm or government agency; in the computer industry, it refers to any large organization that uses computers. Our definition emphasizes the interdependency of individual systems and even systems of systems. We include firms, government agencies, large information-enabled organizations, and any network of entities coming together to collectively accomplish explicit or implicit goals. This includes the integration of previously separate units. The enterprise displays new behaviors that emerge from the interaction of the parts.
MITRE works on projects supporting specific sponsor needs and their required capabilities. To be successful, MITRE staff must also understand the enterprise context associated with these specific activities. Our sponsors truly value an enterprise perspective. MITRE has worked on our sponsors' enterprise and specific needs from our inception. With the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) project, we focused early in our history on the needs of the national enterprise for defense and formulated specific radar solutions to implement the required protection. As MITRE has worked on enterprise challenges over time, we've come to these realizations:
Enterprise engineering is based on the premise that an enterprise is a collection of entities that want to succeed and will adapt to do so. The implication of this statement is that enterprise engineering processes are more about shaping the space in which organizations develop systems so that an organization innovating and operating to succeed in its local mission will automatically and at the same time innovate and operate in the interest of the enterprise. Enterprise engineering processes are focused more on shaping the environment, incentives, and rules of success in which classical engineering takes place. Enterprise engineering coordinates, harmonizes, and integrates the efforts of organizations and individuals through processes informed or inspired by natural evolution and economic markets. Enterprise engineering manages largely through interventions instead of controls .
Major topics and considerations for MITRE staff engineering enterprise solutions are 1) taking a comprehensive viewpoint, 2) enterprise planning and management, 3) enterprise technology, information, and infrastructure, 4) addressing the complex issues associated with information-intensive environments, 5) engineering systems for mission assurance, 6) transformation planning and organizational change, 7) understanding the enterprise's governance operations along with related assumptions and constraints, and 8) independent engineering assessments.
A comprehensive viewpoint helps MITRE SEs create a solution that considers and accounts for the many factors associated with an advantageous path across an enterprise and the environment where the enterprise must operate. There are many complexities to assess and negotiate as we evaluate a comprehensive perspective of the solution space. MITRE SEs can apply a variety of tools to help gain an understanding of the uncertain environment that affects their enterprise. Articles in this topic area include Systems Thinking, Systems Engineering Strategies for Uncertainty and Complexity, and Tools to Enable a Comprehensive Viewpoint.
Enterprise Planning and Management
Enterprise planning and management takes a strategic view of the major plans and processes needed for a federal government organization to achieve its mission. The legislative branch does not often get into details about which components of an executive branch agency will execute each aspect of the mission or how they will operate. Therefore, at the strategic level, each agency must plan, manage, and account for both how and to what extent it achieves that mission. Sponsors sometimes ask MITRE SEs to help develop and execute these strategic-level plans and processes. Articles in this topic area include IT Governance, Portfolio Management, and How to Develop a Measurement Capability.
Enterprise Technology, Information, and Infrastructure
The term "enterprise technology, information, and infrastructure" refers to the concept of information technology (IT) resources and data that are shared across an enterprise. Embodied in this concept are technical efforts such as infrastructure engineering for building, managing, and evolving shared IT; IT or infrastructure operations for administering and monitoring the performance of the IT service being provided to the enterprise; IT services management; and information services management. Articles in this topic area include IT Infrastructure Engineering, IT Service Management, Information and Data Management, and Radio Frequency Spectrum Management.
Engineering Information-Intensive Enterprises
MITRE's role in operating systems engineering federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) places us in an environment where our solutions are predominantly used for information-intensive capabilities. Part of our work program may lead us to hardware or platform considerations for enhancing the capabilities of our sponsors, but typically the emphasis is on the information needs of the missions and decision makers we support. As such, we need to provide solutions that meet the information needs of our sponsors:
- Solutions that consider the architectures of the enterprise and how to federate the elements to provide integrated capabilities
- Solutions that consider the complexity of the comprehensive viewpoint and formulate approaches to take advantage of design patterns and agile techniques while planning an evolutionary strategy to satisfy the longer term enterprise needs
- Solutions that can be created on-demand for the particular challenge at hand using available resources such as open system capabilities while meeting the rapidly changing and real-time events of the nation.
Articles in this topic area include Architectures Federation, Design Patterns, Composable Capabilities on Demand, Open Source Software, Privacy Engineering, and Privacy Requirements Definition and Testing.
Systems of Systems
With the increased emphasis on networking of individual systems to deliver operational capabilities, MITRE's sponsors are recognizing the criticality of effective end-to-end performance of systems of systems (SoS) to meet operational user needs. Even while most government acquisition policies and processes continue to focus on the development and evolution of individual systems, their requirements are increasingly based on assessments of gaps in end-to-end capabilities that require integration across individual systems to be enabled. Increasingly, the role of systems engineering is turning to the engineering of SoS to provide these capabilities. Articles in this topic area include "Engineering Systems in the Context of Systems of Systems," "Treating Systems of Systems as Systems," and "Systems Engineering Life-Cycle Processes as Applied to Systems of Systems."
Systems Engineering for Mission Assurance
The concept of engineering a system that can withstand purposeful or accidental failure or environmental changes has a long history in the discipline of designing systems for survivability. In the Internet era, engineering systems for mission assurance has been further expanded to include engineering for information assurance and cybersecurity. In this guide, the definition of "systems engineering for mission assurance" is the art of engineering systems with options and alternatives to accomplish a mission under different circumstances and the capability to assess, understand, and balance the associated risks. Options and alternatives will normally take the form of a blend of technical and operational elements, which requires the SE to have an intimate understanding of the technical details and limitations of the system, the doctrine and operations for its use, and the environmental conditions and threats that will or may be encountered. Taken together, the various dimensions of mission assurance pose some of the most difficult challenges in engineering systems today. The systems engineering community does not yet have complete answers to its myriad questions.
The articles in this topic are focused on what we know about systems engineering for mission assurance today. It is a rapidly evolving field, so check back often for updates and additional material. Articles in this topic area include Cyber Mission Assurance, Crown Jewels Analysis, Cyber Threat Susceptibility Assessment, Cyber Risk Remediation Analysis, Secure Code Review, and Supply Chain Risk Management.
Transformation Planning and Organizational Change
Transformational planning and organizational change is the coordinated management of change activities that enable users to adopt a new vision, mission, or system. MITRE SEs assist in formulating a strategy and plans and in leading and communicating change. Articles in this topic area include Performing Organizational Assessments, Formulation of Organizational Transformation Strategies, Stakeholder Assessment and Management, Effective Communication and Influence, and Planning for Successful User Adoption.
MITRE SEs need to understand the mechanisms the government uses to "govern" systems engineering and the capabilities required to accomplish the tasks of the enterprise.
Governance relates to the processes of interaction and decision making among the actors involved in a collective problem that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions .
IT governance primarily deals with connections between business focus and IT management. The goal of clear governance is to ensure the investment in IT general business value and mitigate the risks that are associated with IT projects .
Governance engineering requires MITRE staff to work on the social engineering and social networking aspects of systems engineering by using, and sometimes working around, the governance structures. Governance in this area is defined as where the interdependent people, processes, and technology come together to accomplish the required actions to implement the needs of and evolve the enterprise.
Articles in this topic area include Community of Interest and/or Community of Practice, Standards Boards and Bodies, and Policy Analysis.
MITRE FFRDC Independent Assessments
MITRE SEs perform many types of independent assessments, which are known by various names, including independent reviews, red teams, appraisals, audits and compliance assessments. Very often, independent assessments are done to identify risks to a program. They provide value to government organizations because the MITRE FFRDC role promotes independence, objectivity, freedom from conflicts of interest, and technical expertise. Related to Contractor Evaluation, this topic area includes the article Planning and Managing Independent Assessments.
References and Resources
- Rebovich, G., March 2007, Engineering the Enterprise, The MITRE Corporation.
- Hufty, M., 2011, "Investigating Policy Processes: The Governance Analytical Framework (GAF)," Research for Sustainable Development: Foundations, Experiences, and Perspectives, Bern, Geographica Bernensia, pp. 403–424.
- Smallwood, D., February 2009, IT Governance: A Simple Model, ebizQ.