From Systems Engineering to System Family Engineering
Virtually all systems engineering is performed in the context of a product line – a family of similar systems with variations in features and functions. Hardly anyone builds just one edition, just one flavor, just one point solution of anything. When systems in a system family are engineered as individual point solutions, techniques such as clone-and-own, branch-and-merge, and reuse repositories result in ever-growing duplicate and divergent engineering effort and complexity, over and above the complexity inherent in the systems being engineered. Engineering a product line, or system family, holistically is much more effective and efficient than engineering each of the systems individually.
This approach requires the engineering industry at large to elevate our thinking from Systems Engineering to System Family Engineering. Feature-based Product Line Engineering (PLE), as defined by the new ISO/IEC 26580 standard, is the modern digital engineering approach to System Family Engineering. The return-on-investment (ROI) is compelling, based on the elimination of low-value, mundane, replicative work, with doubling, tripling and larger improvements in engineering metrics such as effort, cost, time, scale, and quality. This presentation will explore how Feature-based PLE enables organizations to elevate from Systems Engineering to System Family Engineering.
In consideration of this ROI, the question to leadership is, “What if your engineers could do their normal day’s work before lunch; what would you have them do in the afternoon?” There are many answers to this question, all of them good.
Dr. Charles Krueger is CEO and founder of BigLever Software
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