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Aviation Week/IBM Systems Engineering Survey

Executive Summary: At the 2009 Aviation Week Programs Conference, IBM stated this hypothesis: Advances in systems engineering and its improved coordination with program management will produce better program results. Conference attendees agreed and were interested in further exploration of the subject. Aviation Week and IBM committed to conduct a survey of Aerospace and Defense (A&D) Industry leaders for the purpose of gathering relevant opinions and information on this topic.
The IBM survey team questioned interviewees about how they defined systems engineering, its scope and its application on A&D programs. Interviewees described the historical performance of programs, both positive and negative, in relation to systems engineering and discussed the potential for improvement with new methods and tools. Interviews concluded with a question asking the level of interest in continuing an industry dialog on this topic. The specific questions asked of the interviewees are included in the body of this document.
The survey team found strong agreement from interviewees that systems engineering is an important, high-level coordinating activity and successful program execution is correlated with effective systems engineering execution. Business and technical aspects were considered and comments pointed to globalization and related interactions with partners and suppliers as a high-impact dimension to be considered when assessing program performance. In addition, although most current programs appear to be applying document-based processes, exciting developments in model-based approaches offer significant opportunities to model the system as a whole. IBM analysis and recommendations Despite overall agreement and efforts to improve systems engineering across the industry, significant challenges still exist to industry wide program excellence. Effective systems engineering and program excellence are not evident across all parts of the A&D landscape, they appear in pockets, but have not been consistently achieved. Most companies attempting significant improvements in their systems engineering practice can be characterized as Innovators and Adopters, as described by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm. Companies lack the confidence to move to the next step in adoption, and innovative efforts have not yet been adopted by an yearly majority, let alone a "late majority."


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