Examining the Necessity and Benefits of Systems Engineering in the Trenches

March 2000
Gregory G. Chapin, The MITRE Corporation
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This paper examines the necessity and benefits of systems engineering in the trenches. Planner, orchestrator, negotiator, relationship builder, and communicator are key roles for a systems engineer to take in the trenches. The systems engineering approaches used and roles taken to provide technical and business process engineering solutions required to implement collaboration that operators used successfully to coordinate and approve fixed targets during the Operation Allied Force air campaign are documented. System objectives were: modify the existing process, leveraging collaboration to improve the effectiveness of information processes; improve product quality; and benefit federated efforts by geographically separated partners. This systems engineering effort took place at the United States European Command (USEUCOM) from February 1998 to June 1999 and continues as of this publication. USEUCOM targets community representatives estimate that using collaboration decreased target approval time from 2-4 days to 2-3 hours. Participants indicated collaboration improved process efficiencies, product quality, and synchronization. The success increased interest in and expansion of collaboration within the intelligence and operations communities, including expansion to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Clearly, the results and impact on mission effectiveness indicate systems engineering in the trenches is both necessary and beneficial.

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