Objectives: The purpose of the research was to explore and develop a scalable expedited SE framework for hybrid programs, i.e., those exploiting rapid development, but with the intent to have traditional lifecycle considerations for deployment, maintainability, reliability, adaptability and sustainment. Likewise, this new SE framework would be applicable to more traditional acquisition programs with a desire to incorporate scaled rapid development best practices. The focus is on systems engineering, not acquisition processes. In other words, the framework should be easily tailorable or scalable to optimize for the circumstances of the program in question.
Approach: Based on initial literature review, questions and input from the SERC Research Council and personal experience, a list of guiding questions was identified for unstructured interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) working at headquarter level rapid development organizations. The team targeted those organizations who have been acquiring Joint Urgent Operational Need Statement (JUONS) solutions or who had expertise in aspects of rapid non-traditional acquisition. Predominantly, the organizations were either Government defense acquisition offices or select defense industries. The interview notes were coded and tagged based on patterns of consistent responses. Using the interview notes, an iterative qualitative analysis was performed using ATLAS.ti™ software in an effort to further explore the data for hidden connections and emergent trends. Transcribed notes from organizations were assigned to an ATLAS.ti™ hermeneutic unit. Using the observations derived through the interview process as codes, each document was coded appropriately against key words and phrases. The codes were organized into families of Product, Process, and People, which matched the clusters observed from the discussions. Based on observation, interviews, and literature, a series of observations, or principles, begins to emerge that reflects a framework of rapid development.
Significant Research Findings & Products: Direct Reponses (Organizational Best Practices) – Rapid requires an integrated approach: People making judgments, Processes for task reductions, and Product aspects focused on rapid objectives Direct Observations (“Rapid World” Best Practices) – Not a single Rapid, but many different flexible Rapids, with flexible acquisition practices. Inferred Characteristics (“Go Fast” Cultural Best Practices)- Rapid Department of Defense Acquisition Requires Real-time Management; Intense and efficient knowledge-sharing is used to enable stabilization and synchronization of information; Rapid organizations are characterized by a risk-focused culture; Rapid organizations are structured for ambidexterity – one structure focuses on exploration, and another that focuses on exploitation.