APPLYING SI:D3 TO INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
Railways and other infrastructure systems can be classed as life-long (if not immortal)—demonstrated by the enhancement and/or upgrade works required to keep them operating, including the addition of new capability.
Infrastructure projects can fall short of the required progress to maintain financial and political support for them. This can result in ‘boots on the ground’ for early works on major elements such as the civil engineering works, requiring the commitment of project costs before the system design is understood.
A driver of governance is being able to commit at a point with confidence; a systems approach seeks to give the decision-makers the confidence that when they commit to early works, which may be due to long lead times, the system can be delivered and will meet the needs of the stakeholders.
SI:D3 is a process framework that provides the foundations for exploring and evolving the whole solution from the beginning—developing the strategy, defining the system, and delivering integration; the framework uses proven systems engineering techniques to connect technical management with established program management processes.
By its very design, SI:D3 provides the platform for a collaborative and engaged stakeholder environment.
Below is a breakdown of some key activities associated with processes from each of the three Ds to show how SI:D3 can help improve governance to accelerate decision-making.
DEVELOP THE STRATEGY
Developing the strategy creates the foundations from which the problem space can be defined and later addressed; the focus is on defining the concept to be achieved—described in benefits and outcomes.
- Identify and categorise the stakeholders from across the lifecycle, establishing the appropriate governance for robust management, effective stakeholder engagement and decision-making.
- Establish and agree upon the benefits to be realised by the solution, in terms of outcomes not assets.
- Tailor the activities specific to the project and the problem space.
DEFINE THE SYSTEM
Defining the system enables an accurate understanding of the problem space and the specification of a solution to realise identified benefits and intended outcomes; the use of heuristics and genericised artefacts can be readily applied and refined to meet the specific project needs.
- Analyse the complete scope of works necessary for delivery, identifying gaps and providing optimised scope allocations—minimising the procurement risk.
- Analyse and decompose outcomes into functionality and performance requirements that are captured, apportioned and traceable.
- Collaborative development of system architectures enables visualisation of written specifications enabling rapid refinement and update of candidate options.
- Define a clear ‘route map to success’ by optimising the sequence of benefit delivery.
Delivering integration enhances the established foundations and focusses efforts on the identification, management, and mitigation of engineering-related threats to achieve the defined outcomes.
- Establish and control the baseline and changes to ensure the scope remains known and changes are evaluated and controlled with the whole system in consideration, ensuring rework is minimised.
- Make key and binding decisions related to the specification and acceptance of the system solution, decomposed and traceable to the outcomes and benefits.
- Define, develop, and agree upon interfaces, leading to collaborative specification between all parties, minimising risk to delivery and providing an integrated solution.
- Verify and validate early and often to ensure the solution still meets the outcomes, providing confidence in the project success.
SI:D3 is made possible by the collective know-how of the diverse experts within WSP who facilitate the process framework for any given project or programme and help people arrive at informed decisions. In turn, SI:D3 helps systems engineering practitioners overcome challenges and implement initiatives that improve governance and accelerate decision-making for infrastructure projects and programmes. Adopting a systems approach can help organisations deliver projects on-time, on-budget and with the intended functionality and long-term benefits.
1 GOV.UK, ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’, 3 March 2021
2 Network Rail, ‘Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment (PACE)’, NR/L2/P3M/201 Issue 1, 06 March 2021, p. 6.
4 Governance is the framework of authority and accountability that defines and controls the outputs, outcomes and benefits from projects, programmes and portfolios. The mechanism whereby the investing organisation exerts financial and technical control over the deployment of the work and the realisation of value. APM, ‘APM Body of Knowledge’ 7th Edition, 2021.
5 Network Rail, ‘Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment (PACE)’, NR/L2/P3M/201 Issue 1, 06 March 2021, p. 6.
6 SEBoK, ‘Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge’ version 2.5, 2021.
7 An open, concrete system of technical or socio-technical elements which is the focus of a SE life cycle. Its characteristics include being created by and for people, having a purpose and satisfying key stakeholders’ value propositions when considered as part of a broader system context SEBoK, ‘Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge’ version 2.5, 2021.