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Introduction to the Mission Thread Workshop

October 2013 Technical Report
Michael J. Gagliardi, William G. Wood, Timothy Morrow

This report introduces the Mission Thread Workshop, a method for understanding architectural and engineering considerations for developing and sustaining systems of systems. It describes the three phases of the workshop and explains the steps of each.


Software Engineering Institute

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In Department of Defense programs, a system of systems (SoS) is integrated to accomplish a number of missions that involve cooperation among individual systems. Understanding the activities conducted within each system and how they interoperate to accomplish the missions of the SoS is of vital importance. A mission thread is a sequence of end-to-end activities and events, given as a series of steps, that accomplish the execution of one or more capabilities that the SoS supports. However, listing the steps and describing them do not reveal all the important concerns associated with cooperation among the systems to accomplish the mission; understanding the architectural and engineering considerations associated with each mission thread is also essential. The Mission Thread Workshop (MTW) is a facilitated, stakeholder-centric workshop whose purpose is to elicit and refine end-to-end quality attribute, capability, and engineering considerations for SoS mission threads. This report introduces the MTW, describes the three phases of an MTW, and explains the steps of each phase in detail. It also describes the benefits that a program can expect from conducting an MTW, which include identifying quality attributes and architectural challenges but also reach beyond these goals to expose gaps in capability, functionality, documentation, and engineering.