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A System-of-Systems Engineering Approach for Australian Land Force Capability Integration


 A system-of-systems engineering approach to suit the Australian land force capability integration challenge is developed drawing on the international body of knowledge. The approach proposed would require only quite modest resources. The nature of the activities and the artefacts to produce are defined, with a focus on SoS requirements engineering aspects and how these influence the resulting project- and SoS-level test and evaluation activities.

Executive Summary

This report forms the final report of a Research Agreement between Land Operations Division of DSTO and the Defence Systems Innovation Centre (DSIC) entitled Research Project for SoS Requirements and Evaluation. It builds on the outline of an overarching Systems of Systems Engineering (SoSE) approach for land force capability engineering described in Deliverable 1 (Cook and Nowakowski, 2012) and the success factors for Systems of Systems (SoS) programs enumerated in Deliverable 3 (Cook, et al., 2012).

The report opens with a description of the broad land force capability challenge and then focuses on the central issues to be examined in this report, namely the provision of advice on how best to achieve:

1- Capability/SoS project requirements development and specification; andTest and Evaluation (T&E) processes for capability/SoS integration to ensure that the delivered constituent systems will be effective components of land force capability.

2- Specifically, it was agreed that the requirements engineering and test and evaluation advice sought would need to be framed within the context of a defined land force capability integration approach and hence the body of the report commences by defining the elements of capability needed to undertake Army SoS integration for the tactical land force operating in a joint environment. These are: overarching principles and approach; organisation, roles and responsibilities; SoS engineering environment; personnel; training; SoS design and synthesis; and SoS test and evaluation. Success factors for each element of SoSE capability are described next to inform the design and implementation of a SoSE approach for the land force.

SoS capabilities can be implemented in different ways informed by equally different frameworks of ideas. A description of the five leading schools of thought on SoSE follows to provide an understanding of the diversity of approaches that are gaining traction around the world. The starting school of thought chosen for the land force capability integration challenge was the US Department of Defense (DoD) SoSE approach because it is the most mature in many respects, is well documented, is well-known and respected in Australia (indeed it acknowledges Australian input), and is a defence methodology and hence well-suited to the problem at hand. The US DoD approach, however, has been developed to suit rather different resource levels, contractual arrangements, and governance models. The argument is then made that it is necessary to tailor the US approach to suit Australia's level of SoSE capability maturity, cultural differences, and prospective level of SoSE funding and a set of guiding principles for the design of the Australian approach is then described based on the literature, the authors' knowledge of the Australian defence enterprise, and a review of the success factors. The point is made that SoSE is yet to commence in earnest in Australia and, as such, the focus in the first one or two iterations will need to be on 'herding' the projects to achieve SoS outcomes and then to progressively adopt the precepts of capability engineering to shape the project requirements.

The design of an Australian land force capability SoS approach is described in Section 4 by suggesting how the five US DoD SoSE lifecycle stages can be adapted. Included in this description are the outputs of each of the phases embodied in the form of artefacts that would need to be produced during each iteration. An Australianised description of the artefacts can be found in Annex B.

A key message arising from the research that underpins the findings of this report is that SoSE is an enterprise-level activity that relies on stakeholder buy-in and commitment to achieve success. Success always depends on the stakeholder perspective and, after the SoS Team, the most important perspective to consider is that of the constituent system System Project Offices (SPOs). The analysis of the SoSE activity from this perspective readily surfaces the need to incentivise SPOs to develop their products and services in such a way as to maximise SoS outcomes. A description of the Land SoSE support environment completes the description of the proposed Australian SoSE approach.

Section 5 addresses the first question explicitly. We show how capability requirements for the SoS are elicited and how the SoSE analysis stage identifies how these can be mapped onto constituent systems in the form of high-level service definitions (analogous to service contracts). In the first iteration, the SoS Team will have little opportunity in the short term to change constituent systems requirements or project scope and hence the approach chosen to interface to the SPOs is to establish agreements that embody the service definitions. It is these service and interface definitions that are tracked by both parties and form the basis for guiding the evolution of the SoS.

Section 6 addressed the second question explicitly. Firstly, SoS T&E is fundamentally different in goals, character, and intent from system-acquisition T&E that seeks to inform acceptance and deployment decisions. SoS T&E is focussed more on SoS verification and validation because it is deemed impractical to conduct comprehensive testing of an evolving SoS. Thus SoS T&E activities focus on the impacts that iterations of constituent systems will make on the SoS performance and behaviour outcomes. As such, it involves far greater use of modelling, simulation and analysis than project T&E and thinking of training, exercises, and operations as T&E opportunities. Nonetheless, the SoS T&E staff would monitor the constituent system project progress to evaluate whether the service provision clauses of the agreements will be achieved.

SoSE metrics are beginning to develop. These would become useful when the Australian managerial and technical processes become established. We suggest that a metric-based approach is inappropriate during the initial iterations of SoSE because it would encourage counterproductive stakeholder behaviour, and is covered in Section 7.

In summary, this report draws on the international body of knowledge to develop a SoSE approach to suit the Australian land force capability integration challenge. It uses the US DoD approach for its outline supplemented by social and cultural aspects from European and civilian experiences. The approach proposed would require quite modest resources, "a few top people", supported by contemporary tools, and some modest additional funding for constituent system SPOs. The nature of the activities and the artefacts to produce are defined. Specific attention has been paid to SoS requirements engineering aspects and how these influence the resulting project- and SoS-level T&E activities. A final point is that SoSE is quite different from project SE and SoS T&E is fundamentally different from project-based T&E. Both disciplines will require highly-capable and adaptable people that display the appropriate mind-set needed for SoS success. Identifying and nurturing the development of these people is an important subject for further consideration.

Ultimately, the success of SoSE will be judged in terms of the achieved SoS capability performance versus the cost of undertaking SoSE. A key return on investment for SoSE is likely to be a transfer of the SoS integration risks from the operational level (i.e. the warfighters), where they have been traditionally addressed, to the capability development domain.

Key information


Stephen Cook, Stan Nowakowski and Mark Unewisse

Publication number


Publish Date

September 2012


Unclassified - public release


System-of-Systems, Systems Engineering, Systems Integration, Land Force Capability