Tools to Enable a Comprehensive Viewpoint

Definition: A comprehensive view takes a look at a situation and helps describe the complexity of an enterprise and identify the activities necessary to balance interests across potentially competing perspectives throughout the enterprise, such as interconnected mission needs, business requirements, technological enablers, cultural environments, economic constraints, and others. Various tools can be used to formulate a comprehensive view of an enterprise that captures and compares the important drivers, influences, and risks affecting the establishment of desired capabilities.

Keywords: comprehensive viewpoint, enterprise, federation, POET, principles, SE Profiler, stakeholder analysis, TEAPOT, tools, value impact, value metrics

MITRE SE Roles and Expectations: MITRE systems engineers (SEs) are expected to understand and analyze a customer’s enterprise or cross-agency environment in the context of customer and stakeholder needs and challenges. MITRE SEs are also expected to formulate and adjust plans and steps to effectively provide thought leadership, enhance enterprise integration identify political challenges, recognize mission and operational challenges, mitigate risks and ensure delivery.

Enabling a Comprehensive Viewpoint
A comprehensive viewpoint of the customer's environments should portray strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and constraints in all areas pertinent to the work program/project. It is crucial to take a holistic approach when establishing a comprehensive view of the customer's environments in the context of the intended program/project (also see the SEG article Systems Thinking). A well-analyzed and balanced perspective not only provides the facts and information for MITRE SEs to formulate plans and activities necessary to meet the intended requirements and objectives, it also provides findings and indications for adjustments, improvements, and enhancements [1]. It is important to establish a set of "program basics" to best depict the current state of the working environments as well as associated elements that would assist/impact the success of the program/project. The following list is a set of "program basics" to be used as starting points for analysis:

  • Scope of work program/project
  • Work program/project relevance to customer's vision, mission and strategic objectives
  • MITRE roles and responsibilities
  • Work program/project environments
  • Relationships with the customer
  • Work program/project management (initiation, planning, execution, and closing)
  • Work program status

To adequately portray the current and target state of the environments, all analyses should be conducted with integrity, objectivity, and consistency. Tools can be used to facilitate/assist such analyses to ensure the states of the customer's environments can be appropriately and realistically articulated with consistency and objectivity throughout the program/project life cycle (see Table 1).

Table 1. Summary of Analysis and Collaborative Tools

Analysis Tools

Topics/Areas to Address and Analyze



SE Profiler

  • Scope of work program/project
  • Work program/project relevant to customer's mission and strategic objectives
  • MITRE roles and responsibilities
  • Work program/project environments (political, operational, economic, and technical)
  • Relationships with the customer
  • Work program/project management (planning, implementing, and monitoring)
  • Work program status (accomplishments, actions, and timeliness)


Collaborative Tools

Topics/Areas to Address and Analyze

MITRE Value Impact Assessment

  • Work program/project relevant to customer's mission and strategic objectives
  • MITRE roles, responsibilities, and impacts

Stakeholder Analysis

  • Work program/project environments
    • MITRE internal stakeholders
    • Customer stakeholders
    • Program stakeholders
  • Relationships with stakeholders

Enterprise Principles

  • Work program/project compliance to customer's enterprise objectives
  • Work program/project environments (e.g., standards, integration, sharing, etc.)
  • Work program/project management (initiation, planning, execution, and closing)

Models for Enterprise Federation Analysis

  • Work program/project compliance to mandates and policies

Depending on the size and complexity of the program/project, tools can be applied either independently or collectively to describe the strengths, weaknesses, gaps, risks, and issues of the environments being analyzed. Additionally, it is crucial to recognize/identify the interdependencies of the findings to best assist the formulation of the corrective plans and actions. For instance, the root cause of some technical challenges encountered may be the results of deficient stakeholder analyses and ill-defined requirements.

The following tools have proved useful and effective in analyzing the working environments, devising feasible enhancement/corrective actions, and formulating execution plans and steps.

The Political, Operational, Economic, and Technical (POET) analysis technique was developed by TRW, Inc., in 1999. It was created to assess challenges and opportunities associated with large-scale programs consisting of systems of systems. However, it can be used to assess or devise programs, customer challenges, or strategies, regardless of the size and complexity of the program. The analysis uses the POET categories to construct the program basics, identify the program challenges and constraints, and devise action plans accordingly.

  • Political: Assess and articulate associated leadership, mission/business decision drivers, organizational strengths/weaknesses, policies, governance, expectation management (e.g., stakeholder relationship), program management approach, etc.
  • Operational: Obtain and evaluate mission capabilities, requirements management, operational utility, operational constraints, supporting infrastructure and processes, interoperability, supportability, etc.
  • Economic: Review capital planning and investment management capabilities, and assess the maturity level of the associated processes of budgeting, cost analysis, program structure, acquisition, etc.
  • Technical: Assess and determine the adequacy of planned scope/scale, technical maturity/obsolescence, policy/standards implementation, technical approach, etc.

The Center for Enterprise Modernization furthers the POET analysis disciplines to promote technical accuracy, economic feasibility, actionable recommendations, political insightfulness, operational reality, and timely delivery (TEAPOT) [2].

In addition to assessing and presenting the challenges and deficiencies, TEAPOT emphasizes the need to define actions and activities to be performed to enhance/improve the current state and to demonstrate the breadth and depth of MITRE's Federally Funded Research and Development Center role and responsibilities. Here are some examples of TEAPOT application:

  • Technical accuracy: Use mature technologies and methodologies to assess the soundness of technical requirements and/or solutions; review compatibility among new and legacy systems; determine extensibility and scalability for future changes in scope and requirements, etc.
  • Economic feasibility: Determine if the total cost of the program/project is within the customer's available funding and proportional to expected benefits; ensure the acquisition/sourcing strategies are adequate, etc.
  • Actionable recommendations: Present direct and clear recommendations that target identified deficiencies, document findings, and recommendations objectively and professionally; provide level of detail appropriate for the customer (e.g., executive vs. technical briefings), etc.
  • Political insightfulness: Recognize the strength and weakness of the organizational culture and socialize findings to ensure understanding and acceptance; make recommendations that are in compliance with the mandates; balance the competing priorities of key stakeholders, etc.
  • Operational reality: Consider customer's resource constraints such as staff, systems, funding, etc.
  • Timely delivery: Plan and deliver on time as scheduled.

Systems Engineering (SE) Profiler

The MITRE-developed Systems Engineering Profiler is used to characterize systems in context and for visualizing system integration problems along multiple dimensions. This tool is particularly useful and effective for programs/projects that involve designing systems that can perform as components of large-scale, complex enterprises. MITRE SEs are advised to look beyond the system, and consider the characteristics of the enterprise in which the system will function and the context in which the system is being developed and acquired (refer to [3, 4, 5] for detailed how-to suggestions).

MITRE Value Impact Assessment: Collaborative Tool to Use with POET, TEAPOT, and SE Profiler

Value metrics charts were developed in 2004 to portray MITRE's range of relationships with a particular customer and the scope and nature of MITRE's work for that customer [6]. Two main types of value metrics have been developed to: (1) address criticality of the mission need vs. the nature of MITRE's work (i.e., highly repeatable vs. advancing the state of the art); and (2) address MITRE's relationship with a customer compared to the scope of our work for them. Value metrics charts can be generated from inputs prepared in Excel.

The primary goals for using the MITRE Value Impact Assessment is to strengthen work program content, customer relationships and satisfaction, and MITRE's impact. This tool is often used to identify future directions for MITRE's engagement model and differentiation with a customer (e.g., projecting MITRE to take on a more strategic role, or in some circumstances, transferring a repeatable role to a government contractor to maintain).

Stakeholder Analysis: Collaborative Tool to Use with POET, TEAPOT, and SE Profiler

The stakeholder analysis process is used to strengthen relationships among key stakeholders by establishing why different stakeholder types behave differently and why they behave the way they do [7]. Stakeholder analysis enables tailoring strategies for key stakeholders to take greater advantage of opportunities and avoid or mitigate unwanted risks when they become apparent.

Though the direct customer relationship is a high priority, it is important to determine which other stakeholder types are of a priority and undertake relationship improvement efforts with them.

Once the key stakeholders have been established, a relationship management program starts by developing a relationship management plan. The tips for the customer relationship can be adapted in planning, executing, and assessing a relationship management program with other key stakeholder types.

Enterprise Principles: Collaborative Tool to Use with POET, TEAPOT, and SE Profiler

Enterprise principles are enduring guidelines that describe the way an organization fulfills its mission. Principles express an organization's intentions and fundamental values so that decisions can be made from a common understanding.

Principles are driven by functional capability and/or organizational visions, strategic plans, enterprise direction, and policy directives, which in turn are generally driven by presidential executive orders, legislation, and other external mandates and directives [8].

The primary intended audience for enterprise principles includes mission capability proponents, chief information officers, chief architects, and program managers.

Models for Enterprise Federation Analysis: Collaborative Tool Used with POET, TEAPOT, and SE Profiler

Federal Enterprise Architecture

Though the federal government is organized into agencies, departments, and other organizational structures, many of the government's functional missions cross agency boundaries and authorities. To address the need to coordinate efforts and plans across federal agencies and to share information and services, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has established the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) [9]. The structure of the FEA is maintained by OMB, but portions of it, called segments, are developed and maintained by agency leads in coordination with other agencies. Cross-agency FEA segments are documented by OMB in the Federal Transition Framework [10], which is used in life-cycle planning activities of agencies and their budget submissions. Agencies are responsible for submitting segment architectures to OMB. A federal segment architecture methodology was developed to provide guidance and direction to agencies for developing their segment architectures; it consists of a collection of best practices, tools, techniques, templates, and examples of the various elements that may be included in a segment architecture.

Department of Defense (DoD) as a Federated Enterprise

The DoD, like many agencies, has missions to perform that cut across its organizational elements. In addition, some common business functions such as financial, management, and IT infrastructure needs cut across both missions and organizational elements. To address the many potential relationships, and ultimately both complementary and competing interests, the DoD has been developing and employing a federated enterprise approach to provide consistent context and disciplines for accomplishing the DoD's mission collectively [11, 12, 13, 14], as are other federal agencies [15, 16, 17, 18, 19].

References and Resources

  1. The MITRE Corporation, September 1, 2007, MITRE Systems Engineering (SE) Competency Model, Ver. 1.
  2. MITRE Center for Enterprise Modernization, February 10, 2009, Quality Handbook, Ver. 2.0, The MITRE Corporation, pp. 4–33.
  3. Stevens, R., July 2010, Engineering Mega-Systems: The Challenge of Systems Engineering in the Information Age, Boca Raton, Fla., CRC Press.
  4. Stevens, R., April 2008, Profiling Complex Systems, The MITRE Corporation.
  5. Stevens, R., 2006, Managing Uncertainty: Some Things to Do When You Find Yourself Operating in the Messy Frontier, The MITRE Corporation.
  6. Giallombardo, B., September 2004, Value Metrics Implementation for WC3, "Use Value Metrics to Assess Potential Technical Work."
  7. McCaughin, L. K., and J. K. DeRosa, June 2006, Stakeholder Analysis to Shape the Enterprise, International Conference on Complex Systems, New England Complex Systems Institute.
  8. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), Architecture Principles, TOGAF Ver. 8.1.1, Part IV, Resource Base, Ch. 29.
  9. Office of Management and Budget, Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA).
  10. Federal Transition Framework (FTF), January 2008, Ver. 2.0.
  11. DoD Deputy Chief Information Officer, DoD Architecture Framework 2.0, Architecture Development, Enterprise Architecture, accessed July 29, 2010.
  12. Golombek, A., and W. Okon, EA Federation and Building the DoD EA–Briefing to OMG, DoD CIO, September 16, 2009. UPDM is an Object Management Group (OMG) initiative to develop a modeling standard that supports both the DoDAF and the UK Ministry of Defence Architecture Framework (MODAF). The modeling standard is called the Unified Profile for DoDAF and MODAF (UPDM).
  13. DoD CIO, DoD Governance: Architecture Federation, accessed July 29, 2010 (requires Intelink username and password).
  14. Department of Defense Office of Chief Information Officer, May 2009, Defense Information Enterprise Architecture, Ver. 1.1.
  15. The MITRE Corporation, December 3, 2003, United States Coast Guard Enterprise Architecture Framework, Ver. 0.3.
  16. Federal Health Architecture,, accessed August 18, 2014.
  17. Mullins, K., December 15, 2005, DOJ Litigation Case Management (LCM) Target LCM Architecture.
  18. Grasso, D., and M. B. Burkins, December 1, 2009, Holistic Engineering Education Beyond Technology, New York, N.Y., Springer, Ch. 5.
  19. Department of Defense Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, August 2008, Systems Engineering Guide for Systems of Systems, Ver.1.0.


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