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Agile Software Teams: How They Engage with Systems Engineering on DoD Acquisition Programs

July 2014 Technical Note
Eileen Wrubel, Suzanne Miller, Mary Ann Lapham, Timothy A. Chick

This technical note addresses issues with Agile software teams engaging systems engineering functions in developing and acquiring software-reliant systems.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


DOI (Digital Object Identifier):


This technical note (TN), part of an ongoing Software Engineering Institute (SEI) series on Agile in the Department of Defense (DoD), addresses key issues that occur when Agile software teams engage with systems engineering functions in the development and acquisition of software-reliant systems. Published acquisition guidance still largely focuses on a system perspective, and fundamental differences exist between systems engineering and software engineering approaches. Those differences are compounded when Agile becomes a part of the mix, rather than adhering to more traditional "waterfall"-based development lifecycles. For this TN, the SEI gathered more data from users of Agile methods in the DoD and delved deeper into the existing body of knowledge about Agile and systems engineering before addressing them. Topics considered here include various interaction models for integrating systems engineering functions with Agile engineering teams, automation, insight and oversight, training, the role of Agile advocates/sponsors and coaches, the use of pilot programs, stakeholder involvement, requirements evolution, verification and validation activities, and the means by which Agile teams align their increments with program milestones. This TN offers insight into how systems engineers and Agile software engineers can better collaborate when taking advantage of Agile as they deliver incremental mission capability.