Engineers Work Together to Improve Quality and Risk Management
January 8, 2014
For the past year, the engineers in the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command (ISEC) at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., have been enhancing the way ISEC does business to meet internationally recognized standards. ISEC's Technical Working Group has been revising engineering processes to develop controlled procedures that achieve predictable results to reduce risk and create standardized, high quality engineering products and services. This improvement effort is based on the Systems Engineering model in the "Defense Acquisition
As part of this effort, ISEC used the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) method created by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University to assess the organizational maturity level. One of the objectives of this standardization is to raise ISEC's CMMI assessment from Level 1 to Level 2. Robert Wellborn, ISEC's Technical Working Group
integrated product team lead, explained this improvement effort consists of two main elements.
"The first is the standardization of the ISEC Systems Engineering Process," he said. "The goal is to develop repeatable processes that can be followed by all ISEC personnel. The second key part to standardization is the development of uniform templates for all ISEC standard deliverable products."
Wellborn said he believes employing controlled engineering standards is the most critical factor of this effort. He explained that consistent engineering procedures provide ISEC with the advantage of better risk management through error reduction, while simultaneously creating a workflow coherency across directorates that does not rely on a few workplace "heroes" to manage the majority of the risk involved in each engineering project. "This [coherency] is a significant enabler to the ISEC matrix support workforce concept that allows ISEC engineers to seamlessly transition between projects and project teams, as all projects utilize the same systems engineering processes," said Wellborn. Dyanna Waters, ISEC's Lean Six Sigma Black
Belt, said she thinks the most important aspect of this implementation is meeting the
customers' needs with standardized tools, such as templates.
She said using templates ensures ISEC's customers receive products developed within adhered-to guidelines, which reduce errors and redundancy. Waters explained the main benefit the customers gain from a uniform product.
"Standards produce quality by enabling a consistent way of doing things," she said.
"They [customers] will receive consistent, quality deliverables from ISEC, no matter what the
project, a large or small project, or where they are located." In an effort to create high quality products and services while minimizing risk, the Technical Working Group has completed two major tasks involved in improving ISEC's engineering processes.
The first accomplishment was the standardization of the Functional Support Agreement (FSA) process, which the directorates use to develop the FSAs with their customers for fiscal year 2014.
The second achievement was the development of a standard template and an instructional guide for the ISEC System Design Plans, Project Concurrence Memorandums and Engineering Installation Packages. Waters explained this is a detail-oriented, long-term project entailing the support of ISEC's leading engineers to complete successfully. The people… are working their jobs as well as contributing here, so hats off to them that they're able to make all these contributions and do all this work in addition to their regular jobs," said Waters. "It just talks to their drive to get this done as well."