Image Credit: DARPA

Posted: February 10, 2016 | By: Eric Treadwell


“Internet [keyword] searches require some judgment. If you don’t use enough keywords to narrow your topic, you’ll end up spending a lot of time scanning sites and trying to find the ones that are most relevant. On the other hand, a tightly focused search might overlook a relevant citation. There are no easy answers, but through trial and error you’ll probably find the balance that works for your particular topic.”2

Why should “educated guess” remain the rule of the day? Use of Dynamic Tailoring and its underlying requirements analysis prepares the data for the user such that the results are neither too broad to be helpful nor so narrow as to exclude critical information.

Requirements Correlation

  1. List Core Requirements
  2. List Conditional and Procedural Requirements
  3. List Conditions and Procedures
  4. Correlate List #2 and List #3
  5. Combine the core list and the results of Step 4.

Based on research1, it is estimated that tens of thousands of man-hours could be saved in the DoD through rapidly, accurately, and precisely retrieving information contained in standards documents. The first benefit of producing Dynamic Tailoring for a document is that the initial cost is offset by reduced requests for assistance, interpretation, and clarification. The following activities are also affected: identification of requirement applicability; easily comparing various vendors’ offers against specification paragraphs; clear communication of design parameters; facilitating training on, use of and exploration of specifications (“what if” scenarios). Responses to requests for proposal can be more complete. Specification compliance verification can be streamlined since applicable criteria are known. The document publishing body is also expected to experience benefits in training new employees and preserving SME knowledge. In short, any organization that uses or produces standards to which Dynamic Tailoring applies stand to benefit: all uniformed services, NATO, etc.


Figure 2: Screenshot of the Prototype

While it is beyond the scope of this paper to estimate the cost to any given project, the cost of starting from scratch is known. The total cost of the prototype effort: approximately 3 semester hours were expended to develop the Dynamic Tailoring method and apply it during the rewriting of MIL-HDBK-1791. Approximately 3 more semester hours were spent rewriting the handbook. About 960 man-hours were expended in: revisions and editing of the document, designing the web-based interface, writing the computer code, and testing the electronic version of Dynamic Tailoring for MIL-STD-1791A. The only break down available for the 960 hours was a full update of the computer version’s document text (copy-and-paste) with some paragraph numbering changes and associated algorithm modification. This update took approximately 30 man-hours. This also represents a mean maintenance cost per document update.

The electronic version was written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Other file types utilized included PDF, JPEG, and GIF. This set of programing languages and file types assured multiple operating system compatibility, the only requirement is a modern web browser. Once this was assembled, it was realized that the planned CD distribution method was not fully utilized. The electronic version included additional examples, color photographs in the body of the standard, as opposed to the requirement for line drawings in the printed edition. Taking further advantage of the information storage space, additional full-color photographic case studies were developed and included as a supplement to the existing guidance and lessons learned. Future projects may reuse some of the work products, they are available for distribution.

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