Case Study: Applying Agile Software Methods to Systems Engineering


Posted: February 10, 2016 | By: Matthew Kennedy


The Agile Systems Engineering Framework and Practices do not remove typical project management issues encountered during systems development, but they enable early identification and resolution of issues.  Juggernaut encountered many of the same issues faced by projects regardless of the Framework and / or Practices used during systems development.  Issues include:

  1. Scheduling priorities – Other project took priority in manufacturing, testing, or development;
  2. Staffing issues;
  3. Fluctuation in material costs;
  4. Manufacturing lines shut down;
  5. Delays in receiving ordered parts;
  6. Retesting of subsystems during development due to unsuccessful QC.

Though Juggernaut faced these issues during development, by structuring their project into the specified Framework and using the Agile Practices, they were able to identify, restructure and adapt to these issues with minimal impact to the overall project.  Juggernaut experienced some unanticipated events that caused minor schedule slips to occur.  One of the initial “phase reviews” was completed ahead of schedule, which was noted by management as the “first time in company history”.

The incorporation of the Agile Systems Engineering Framework and Practices showed an improvement in estimating the systems cost, schedule and functionality in addition to reinforcing systems engineering best practices such as interface management, configuration management, risk management and overall technical management.  Implementing agility is a different puzzle for each system.  Identify your puzzle and SOLVE IT!



Daniels, J. J. (2006). Review of Acquisition for Transformation, Modernization, and Recapitalization, U.S. Army War College. Master of Strategic Studies: 28.

Ferguson, J. (2001). “Crouching dragon, hidden software: software in DoD weapon systems.” Software, IEEE 18(4): 105-107.

Force, D. S. B. T. (2009). Department of Defense Policies and Procedures for the Acquisition of Information Technology. Washington, D.C. 20301-3140: 109.

Group, S. (2009, 04/23/2009). “Standish Newsroom – CHAOS 2009.” New Standish Group report shows more project failing and less successful projects. Retrieved 01/01/2011, 2011, from .

Hagan, G. (2011). Glossary of Defense Acquisition Acronyms and Terms. Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-5565, Defense Acquisition University Press: 346.

Hand, W. L. and G. C. Little (2012). Guide To The Business Capability Lifecycle For Department Of Defense ACAT III Programs, LMI Research Institute: 76.

Kennedy, M. R. and D. Ward (2012). “Inserting Agility in System Development.” Defense Acquisition Research Journal 19(3).

Oxenham, D. (2010). Agile approaches to meet complex system of system engineering challenges: A defence perspective. System of Systems Engineering (SoSE), 2010 5th International Conference on.

Schmidt, D. C. (2013). “The Growing Importance of Sustaining Software for the DoD.” Retrieved 02/16/2013, 2013, from


1 The cost variance was due to a vendor renegotiation and was not attributed to the Framework or Practices.

Want to find out more about this topic?

Request a FREE Technical Inquiry!