Technical Report: Expedited Systems Engineering for Rapid Capability and Urgent Needs

Report Number: Technical Report SERC-2012-TR-034-1

Report Name: Expedited Systems Engineering for Rapid Capability and Urgent Needs

Publication Date: December 31, 2012

This report describes the research (performed under research topic RT-34) that examined expedited systems engineering as applied to rapid capability and urgent needs as developed in response to changing threats. Previous studies have determined that the standard Department of Defense acquisition process is not designed to respond to the dynamic environment of rapid acquisition.

The RT-34 research team set out with the goal to identify the factors that contribute positively to rapid acquisition focusing on the systems engineering process. This research effort studied over 30 organizations and individuals – from commercial, civil and DoD sectors – which have known experience in rapid development. These organizations and individuals were at the headquarters level and often represented a portfolio of rapid programs. The investigation attempted to identify any people, process or product related behaviors that the organizations thought most contributed to expedited systems engineering.

The method used in this research is based on grounded theory, a research methodology that allows theories to emerge from collected data. This collection of data comes from notes during discussions with the leadership of the “rapid” organizations to discern what made them successful and discover what drove their processes. The research followed a systematic, yet flexible process to collect data, code and analyze the data, make connections, and see what theories can be generated.

Based on observation, interviews, and literature, a series of observations, or principles, began to emerge, that reflects a framework of rapid development. Findings are reported under three groups:

Group 1: Direct Responses,
Group 2: Direct Observations, and
Group 3: Inferred Organizational Characteristics.

This report goes into more detail about specific findings, recommendations, and several potential follow-on thrust areas.