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The Business Case for Systems Engineering

This collection describes our research in the field of systems engineering (SE).

Software Engineering Institute


The documents in this collection describe our research in the field of systems engineering (SE).

While the SEI has long been engaged in many areas of SE, our research in SE Effectiveness began in 2005 in response to a query from the Director of Systems and Software Engineering in the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, who was seeking quantitative data on the value of SE.  He posed this query to the SE Division of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), who formed the SE Effectiveness Committee to form a response.  The NDIA formed a collaboration with the SEI to research the question.

Initial research led to a survey conducted in 2006, with findings published in 2007, and more detailed information published in 2008.  This survey showed a clear and consistent relationship between the deployment of good SE practices and improved project performance, as measured by satisfaction of project budget, schedule, and technical requirements.

In 2010, the SEI set out to expand the research by surveying a larger sample.  For this survey, we teamed with NDIA and the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society to survey system development projects worldwide.  The results of this research are published in the reports listed below.

Work continues on expanding our understanding of the value of SE.  Current research is focusing on understanding differences in SE effectiveness between defense-domain projects and non-defense projects, with the goal of identifying effective practices that can be transplanted between the domains.

In addition to the documents listed below, we have also published the following blog posts on SE effectiveness:

Collection Items