Emphasis for the SE process improvement review was derived from elements of the FDOT Statewide Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP), developed through a FDOT and FHWA partnership. The SEMP provides guidance and promotes the consistent application of SE for ITS projects. The SEMP addresses a broad set of SE practices including concept of operations, requirement development and traceability, and system verification. The SEMP also includes templates for many of the core systems engineering practices.
A final report for the SE process improvement review was completed in April of 2005. The report provides descriptions of the successful SE applications, areas where the application of SE needs improving, prioritized recommendations, and various lessons learned in the deployment of ITS. Florida's SE process review experience provides the following guidance:
- Be rigorous in preparing and refining SE documentation. Systems engineering is recognized as an effective way to document and transfer knowledge about the project among project personnel. This becomes more obvious when there is a change in the project management and/or technical staffing.
- Keep your Regional Architecture documentation up to date. Information in a Regional Architecture can be used as a baseline for ITS project development, so it is important to keep architecture documentation updated. If the Regional Architecture documentation is not maintained, then subsequent projects may not include key functionalities or data flows.
- Conduct independent Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) reviews. Independent QA/QC reviews may help migrate some of the risks that a project experiences due to differences between the Technical Special Provisions and procurement specifications. One Florida DOT District developing a Transportation Management Center addressed these issues as lessons learned for future projects by meeting with design teams to perform document continuity checks as part of the QA/QC process.
- Conduct post-project reviews to help refine the application of SE and the associated organizational processes. Post-project reviews help document lessons learned and direct needed refinements to the defined SE process.
- Seek clarity on SE concepts through available resources. Multiple resources for the explanation of systems engineering concepts are openly available on the Internet. The application of systems engineering may vary slightly among domains, however the basic concepts remain the same.
- Conduct periodic SE process improvement reviews. Systems engineering process reviews help identify and prioritize needs for successful implementation of SE. Process reviews are also a good way to collect lessons learned so the SE process can be refined.
The SE process improvement review discussed above was FDOT's second such review in four years. Florida has found that process improvement reviews help to identify SE priorities for a rapidly evolving ITS program. As a result, FDOT is able to justify and prioritize funding and other resources to advance SE capabilities within their program.
Systems engineering is a user-needs driven process and provides tools to measure user/customer satisfaction. In addition, SE practices are designed to simplify complex processes while maximizing work productivity. These outcomes allow FDOT to foster the goals of increasing customer satisfaction and improving productivity.
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