Enabling Businesses and Enterprises

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This knowledge area demonstrates how businesses and enterprises organize for Systems Engineering (SE), and how they manage and align SE activities to their purpose and goals. It shows senior systems engineering and technical leaders where to find the information and evidence to improve their own performance.

Businesses and enterprises usually adopt or enhance their systems engineering capability for one of four reasons:

  • to do current business better (typically a combination of faster, better, cheaper)
  • to respond to a disruption in the market place requiring them to change the way they do business - a competitive threat or new demands from customers
  • to reposition the business or enterprise in its value chain or open up a new market
  • to develop a new generation product or service.

How this section fits into the rest of BKCASE

An organization is itself a kind of system; much of the discussion describing systems elsewhere applies to the organization doing the systems engineering. The business level of SE and the organization of the project define the purpose, context, and scope for systems engineering management within projects, described in Part 3, Systems Engineering and Management. This business or enterprise level of SE sets the context for the systems engineering performed by teams and by individuals, discussed in other elements of Part 5, Enabling Teams to Perform Systems Engineering and Enabling Individuals to Perform Systems Engineering.


The Enabling Businesses and Enterprise to Perform Systems Engineering knowledge area contains the following topics:

Logical flow between topics

The flow between the topics is shown in the Figure 1 diagram, which is essentially a "plan - do - check - act" cycle (Deming 1994).

Figure 1. Concept Map for Businesses and Enterprises Topics (Figure Developed for BKCASE)





If there is a gap between actual and needed capabilities, measures are taken to develop or improve the capabilities using the available levers to:

  • develop, redeploy or obtain new facilities, services, and individuals;
  • improve culture;
  • adjust organization;
  • adjust and align measures, goals and incentives
  • adjust the definition of the required capabilities;
  • if necessary, renegotiate scope, context, purpose, responsibility and accountability.

(See Developing Systems Engineering Capabilities within Businesses and Enterprises)

Businesses and enterprises vary enormously in purpose, scope, size, culture and history. The way the organization prepares to perform Systems Engineering needs to be tailored according to the specific situation and will depend greatly on the level of understanding of the added value of systems engineering, and the organization's maturity and homogeneity.

This section discusses the implementation of SE in business and in enterprise , and is also relevant to extended enterprises and to projects that involve multiple organizations. This latter case is a particularly difficult challenge because the teams within the project have duties both to the project and to their parent business, and must fit into both cultures and process environments.

The detailed topics in this Knowledge Area go into further detail of how a business or enterprise determines and prioritizes the Systems Engineering capabilities it needs (Determining Needed Systems Engineering Capabilities in Businesses and Enterprises), organizes to do Systems Engineering and integrates SE with its other functions (Organizing Business and Enterprises to Perform Systems Engineering), assesses Systems Engineering performance (Assessing Systems Engineering Performance of Business and Enterprises), develops and improves its capabilities through organizational learning (Developing Systems Engineering Capabilities within Businesses and Enterprises) and the impact of Culture.

Goals, Measures and Alignment in an Organization

The alignment of goals and measures across the enterprise strongly affects the effectiveness of systems engineering effort and the benefit delivered by SE to the enterprise. For example:

  • (Blockley, D. and Godfrey, P. 2000) describe techniques used successfully to deliver a major infrastructure contract on time and within budget, in an industry normally plagued by adversarial behavior.
  • Lean thinking (Womack and Jones 2003; Oppenheim et al. 2010) provides a powerful technique for aligning purpose to customer value – provided the enterprise boundary is chosen correctly and considers the whole value stream.
  • (Fasser,Y.and Brettner, D. 2002, pp 18-19) see an organization as a system, and advocate three principles for organizational design: “increasing value for the ultimate customer”, “strict discipline”, and “simplicity”.
  • EIA 632 (EIA 1999) advocates managing all the aspects required for through-lifecycle success of each element of the system as an integrated “building block”. Similarly, (Blockley 2010) suggests that taking a holistic view of “a system as a process” allows a more coherent and more successful approach to organization and system design, considering each element both as part of a bigger system of interest and as a “whole system” (a “holon”) in its own right.
  • (Elliott et al. 2007) advocate six guiding principles for making systems that work: “debate, define, revise and pursue the purpose”; “think holistic”; "follow a systematic procedure”; "be creative”; "take account of the people”; and “manage the project and the relationships."



  • Blockley,D.and Godfrey, P. 2000. Doing It Differently – Systems For Rethinking Construction.London, UK: Thomas Telford, Ltd.
  • Deming, W.E. 1994. The New Economics. Cambridge, MA, USA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Centre for Advanced Educational Services.
  • EIA 632. 1999. Processes for engineering a system. Arlington, VA, USA: Electronic Industries Alliance 1998.
  • Elliott, C. et al., 2007. Creating systems that work – principles of engineering systems for the 21st century. London, UK: Royal Academy of Engineering. June 2007: http://www.raeng.org.uk/education/vps/pdf/RAE_Systems_Report.pdf (Accessed September 2, 2011)
  • Fasser,Y. and Brettner, D. 2002. Management for Quality in High-Technology Enterprises. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons -Interscience.
  • Farncombe, A. and Woodcock, H. 2009. Enabling Systems Engineering. INCOSE UK Chapter, Somerset, England. Z-2 Guide, Issue 2.0 (March, 2009),http://www.incoseonline.org.uk/Documents/zGuides/Z2_Enabling_SE.pdf (Accessed September 2, 2011)
  • Farncombe, A. and Woodcock, H. 2009. Why Invest in Systems Engineering. INCOSE UK Chapter, Somerset, England. Z-3 Guide, Issue 3.0, (March 2009) http://www.incoseonline.org.uk/Documents/zGuides/Z3_Why_invest_in_SE.pdf(Accessed September 2, 2011)
  • Oppenheim et al. 2010. Lean enablers for Systems Engineering. INCOSE Lean SE WG. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley Periodicals, Inc.(2010) http://cse.lmu.edu/Assets/Lean+Enablers.pdf (Accessed September 2, 2011)
  • Womack, J. and Jones, D. 2003. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation. Revised Edition. New York, New York, USA: Simon & Schuster.

Primary References

No primary references have been identified for version 0.5. Please provide any recommendations on primary references in your review.

Additional References

  • INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook v3.2.1. INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook. Version 3.2. San Diego, CA, USA: INCOSE.
  • ISO/IEC 15288:2008.Systems and software engineering - System life cycle processes. Version 2. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electronical Commission (IEC).

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--Asquires 15:20, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

--Smenck2 15:38, 2 September 2011 (UTC)