Enterprise Engineering


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; create strategies that consider all aspects of the problems and needs of the customer, sponsor, and beyond; and engineer scalable, adaptable, and evolvable enterprise solutions that consider the larger stakeholder community.


In "Evolving Systems Engineering," MITRE staff came up with the following working definition of "enterprise":

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 [1].

MITRE works on a number of projects supporting specific customer needs and their required capabilities. To be successful in these endeavors, MITRE staff must also understand the enterprise context associated with these specific activities. Providing an enterprise perspective in our customer support is truly valued by our customers. MITRE has worked on our customers' enterprise and specific needs from our inception. With the SAGE [Semi-Automatic Ground Environment] 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 realize:

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 willautomatically and at the same timeinnovate 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 [2].

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.

Comprehensive Viewpoint

A comprehensive viewpoint helps the MITRE engineer create a solution that considers and accounts for the many factors associated with an advantageous path across an enterprise and the environment in which the enterprise must operate. There are many complexities to assess and negotiate as we evaluate a comprehensive perspective of the solution space. MITRE engineers can apply a variety of tools to help gain an understanding of the uncertain environment that affects their enterprise. The Comprehensive Viewpoint topic includes the following articles: 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 engineers to help develop and execute these strategic-level plans and processes. The Enterprise Planning and Management topic includes three articles, with more to be added at a later date: 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. The articles under the Enterprise Technology, Information, and Infrastructure topic 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 in which 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 customers, 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 customers:

  • 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 under the Engineering Information-Intensive Enterprises topic include Architectures Federation, Design Patterns, Composable Capabilities on Demand, Open Source Software, and Privacy Systems Engineering.

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 systems engineer 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 the Systems Engineering for Mission Assurance 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. Currently, articles under this topic are 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 systems engineers assist in formulating a strategy and plans, and in leading and communicating change. The Transformation Planning and Organizational Change topic contains articles on Performing Organizational Assessments, Formulation of Organizational Transformation Strategies, Stakeholder Assessment and Management, Effective Communication and Influence, and Planning for Successful User Adoption.

Enterprise Governance

MITRE engineers need to understand the mechanisms the government uses to "govern" systems engineering and the capabilities required to accomplish the tasks of the enterprise.

Governance is the act of governing. It relates to decisions that define expectations, grant power, or verify performance ... governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, guidance, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility [3].

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 [4].

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 under the Enterprise Governance topic include Communities of Interest and/or Community of Practice, Standards Boards and Bodies, and Policy Analysis.

MITRE FFRDC Independent Assessments

MITRE systems engineers 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. The MITRE FFRDC Independent Assessments topic is related to the Contractor Evaluation topic and contains an article called Planning and Managing Independent Assessments.

Other Enterprise Engineering Articles

In the future, any articles on subjects of relevance to enterprise engineering but that don't neatly fit under one of the section's existing topics will be added in a separate topic, Other Enterprise Engineering Articles. Such articles are likely to arise because the subject matter is at the edge of our understanding of systems engineering, represents some of the most difficult problems MITRE systems engineers work on, and has not yet formed a sufficient critical mass to constitute a separate topic.

References & Resources

  1. The MITRE Corporation, 2011, Evolving Systems Engineering.
  2. Rebovich, G., March 2007, Engineering the Enterprise. The MITRE Corporation.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Governance," Wikipedia, accessed September 30, 2013.
  4. Smallwood, D., March 2009, "IT Governance: A Simple Model," ebiz.


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