Incremental Development in Large-Scale Systems: Finding the Programmatic IEDs

2009-06-01T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Charles (Bud) Hammons
Programmatically, an IED (improvised explosive device) is an unintended consequence or impediment that can blow up a development program. Large-scale systems (LSS) being acquired by the Department of Defense (DoD) are frequently exemplified by the creation of multiple prime items, acquired under separate contract. The multiple prime items are often controlled by different organizations, with attendant variations in timelines and funding stability. In most cases, each of the prime items is software-intensive. LSS are encountered in several domains, including space-based systems and multi-platform systems such as the Army's Future Combat System. These are often referred to as transformational systems. The concepts of time certain development and incremental deployment of capabilities would appear to represent a fundamental change in the programmatic environment in which LSS are acquired. Such programs need a "roadmap" for acquisition that addresses this new environment. This paper explores how continued use of the existing acquisition roadmaps opens up the potential for running into program pitfalls (programmatic IEDs) that aren't acknowledged on the map at hand.