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Estimating for Lifecycle and Product Line Affordability

Software/Hardware Track



A significant challenge in systems engineering and acquisition is to justify investments in new systems and the evolution of existing systems and product lines. In an era of shrinking budgets, especially in the U.S. Department of Defense, choices are driven by affordability, and not just the affordability of the initial development. Affordability includes development, deployment, usage, maintenance, and retirement/disposal costs. A way to assess or estimate system or product line affordability is through Total Ownership Cost (TOC) analysis. TOC is a comprehensive analysis that can be used to evaluate the costs associated with the various lifecycle development stages as well as operational (usage) costs of the system such as user training, required training refresh, and number of users required to operate the system; long-term component licensing and maintenance costs; system power/fuel costs; and disposal costs associated with replaced components as well as full system retirement. Affordability analysis can also use TOC to evaluate architecture flexibility with respect to system or product line evolution. When used with cost modeling parameters related to the system product, development processes, and engineering team characteristics, TOC has the advantage of having clear cause-effect relationships that are easy to understand and reason about.
Many organizations use separate budgets for system development and system life-cycle support. This usage frequently leads to suboptimizing system architectures and designs to minimize development costs, which in turn results in inflexible, hard-to-modify, difficult-to-maintain, or expensive-to-use systems and higher overall costs for the system’s owners. The concept of TOC has been in use since at least 1929 as a basis for making affordability decisions involving investments in improved performance, flexibility, and maintainability. This can be done by determining the relative costs of system development, operations, support, and retirement to evaluate alternative approaches for providing the desired system capabilities along with the impact of up-front flexibility investments to support the maintenance and evolution of the system over a desired system life span. Major sources of added ownership cost due to shortfalls in flexibility include rework during development, adaptation to change during operations and support, and duplication of effort in developing and supporting similar systems. We present two TOC models for assessing software affordability that have been calibrated to project data. One is for a single system; the other is for a family of systems. We also illustrate the use of TOC in acquisition decision situations, and discuss areas for further research in extending the models to complex systems and systems of systems.


Jo Ann Lane
University of Southern California
Jo Ann Lane is a research assistant professor at the University of Southern California Center for Systems and Software Engineering, conducting research in the areas of software engineering, systems engineering, and system of systems engineering (SoSE). She was a co-author of the 2008 Department of Defense Systems Engineering Guide for Systems of Systems. Current areas of research include system and system capability affordability, expediting systems engineering, balancing lean and agile techniques with technical debt, SoSE processes, SoSE cost modeling, analysis of SoSE with respect to lean principles, system of systems (SoS) interoperability, SoSE test and evaluation, system development feasibility assessments, and innovation in systems engineering. She has published over 20 papers in the SoS area, several of which are widely referenced in the SoS literature. She is also an emeritus professor in the Computer Science Department at San Diego State University where she continues to teach an occasional course in software engineering, software measurement, and software management. In addition, she is currently a member of the INCOSE and IEEE professional organizations and Past President of the San Diego, CA INCOSE Chapter. Prior to her current work in academia, she was a key technical member of Science Applications International Corporations Software and Systems Integration Group for over 20 years, responsible for the development and integration of software-intensive systems and systems of systems and instrumental in establishing the corporate software measurement repository. She received her PhD in systems engineering from the University of Southern California and her Masters in computer science from San Diego State University.

Barry Boehm
Barry W. Boehm is the TRW Professor of Software Engineering; Founding Director Emeritus, Center for Systems and Software Engineering; and Director of Research, DoD-Stevens-USC Systems Engineering Research Center; in the Computer Science and Industrial and Systems Engineering Departments of the University of Southern California. He is also a part-time employee of the Aerospace Corp. He received his B.A. degree from Harvard in 1957, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from UCLA in 1961 and 1964, all in Mathematics. He has also received honorary Sc.D.s in Computer Science from the U. of Massachusetts in 2000 and in Software Engineering from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011.

Between 1989 and 1992, he served within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as Director of the DARPA Information Science and Technology Office, and as Director of the DDR&E Software and Computer Technology Office. He worked at TRW from 1973 to 1989, culminating as Chief Scientist of the Defense Systems Group, and at the Rand Corporation from 1959 to 1973, including direction of major command and control systems analyses and culminating as Head of the Information Sciences Department. He was a Programmer-Analyst at General Dynamics between 1955 and 1959.

While at USC, he has served as the Principal Investigator on major research contracts and grants from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, DARPA, ONR, AFRL, USAF-ESC, TACOM, NASA, FAA, and NSF. He has received industry research grants from over 25 industrial organizations. His real-client software engineering project course has successfully completed over 200 projects for USC-neighborhood clients and educated over 2000 students in an integrated approach to systems engineering and software engineering.

His current research interests focus on value-based systems and software engineering, including a new process model, the Incremental Commitment Spiral Model, for integrating a system’s hardware, software, and human factors across its definition, design, development, and evolution life cycle. His contributions to the field include the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) family of parametric estimation models, the Spiral Model of the software process, the Theory W (win-win) approach to systems and software management and requirements determination, and the foundations for the areas of software risk management and software quality factor analysis.
He has served on the boards of several scientific journals, and as founding Chair of the AIAA Technical Committee on Computer Systems, Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Software Engineering, and as a member of the Governing Board of the IEEE Computer Society. He has also served as Chair of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board’s Information Technology Panel, Chair of the NASA Research and Technology Advisory Committee for Guidance, Control, and Information Processing, and Chair of the Board of Visitors for the CMU Software Engineering Institute.

His honors and awards include Guest Lecturer of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1970), the AIAA Information Systems Award (1979), the J.D. Warnier Prize for Excellence in Information Sciences (1984), the ISPA Freiman Award for Parametric Analysis (1988), the NSIA Grace Murray Hopper Award (1989), the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence (1992), the ASQC Lifetime Achievement Award (1994), the ACM Distinguished Research Award in Software Engineering (1997), the IEEE Harlan D. Mills Award (2000), Visiting Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2005), Best Paper of 2006 award from the INCOSE journal Systems Engineering, Lifetime Achievement Symposium honoree in Software Engineering Education (2006) and Software Engineering (2007), the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal in systems science and engineering (2010), and the Wayne Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award in Software Engineering (2011). He is a Fellow of the primary professional societies in computing (ACM), aerospace (AIAA), electronics (IEEE), and systems engineering (INCOSE), and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Supannika Koolmanojwong
University of Southern California
Dr. Supannika Koolmanojwong is a full-time faculty and a researcher at the University of Southern California Center for Systems and Software Engineering. Her primary research areas are rapid-field software development, service science and engineering, systems and software process improvement,cost estimation, and systems and software engineering education and training. Her dissertation was about the Incremental Commitment Spiral Model Process Patterns for Rapid-Fielding Projects. Prior to this, she was a lecturer at Faculty of Science and Technology, Assumption University, Thailand and a RUP/OpenUp Content Developer at IBM Software Group. She received her MS and PhD in software engineering from the University of Southern California.

Ray Madachy