Systems Engineering
Source: Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
Date: 10/1/95    Record No.: 10247
Contact: Finis Southworth, 208-526-8150

Systems Engineering
Lockheed's proposal to DOE to manage INEL presented two major themes: one was commercialization, and the other was Systems Engineering. Systems Engineering is at the heart of Lockheed Martin's entire approach to management. It has a long history as a codified set of practices, and is common in the aerospace industry. When Lockheed took over at INEL, a Systems Engineering Directorate was set up, drawing together pockets of expertise from around INEL and bringing in some talent from Lockheed itself.

Why do it? In INEL's own words:
1. So we never do anything without a reason (and have traceability)
2. So we do what we're required to do, and know what's in and out of scope (so the customer knows exactly what to expect)
3. So we do a complete system version of the job (dealing with everything that can affect the main focus)
4. So we emphasize only important factors and influences
5. So we "control" all factors which affect success or failure (control all inputs and outputs, and understand all risks to success)

What are the Steps?
1. Define requirements (customer needs)
2. Define functional system
3. Synthesize/Create Approaches
4. Trade off risks and benefits of different approaches
5. Validate by measuring how well each requirement was met

As practiced by Lockheed and now by INEL, Systems Engineering would appear to be very similar to the standard sorts of project management techniques, but on closer inspection it clearly goes much further.

One major success: In 1988 the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board got the job to oversee DOE's nuclear facilities. Its tiger teams made visits and put together the review report "94-1 Stabilizing Nuclear Fuels." But DOE had no way to respond to the recommendations. At that point, DOE was given the lead responsibility, and INEL was hired to do a systems engineering analysis. Their Technical Requirements Document was issued in mid 1995, and a process is now on track. This performance led to INEL being selected recently to perform a similar function following the issuance of "94-2" on Low Level Nuclear Waste.

INEL has recently been contacted by several major utilities to look into the feasibility of applying Systems Engineering principles in strategic planning during deregulation.