What Are System Of Systems Projects Information Technology Essay

System of Systems has emerged as a new approach to solving complex problems. The expectation is that System of Systems will improve effectiveness and enhance one’s ability to successfully address complex issues.

System of Systems is a large scale concurrent and distributed system that is comprised of complex systems. It exists when there is a presence of a majority of the following five characteristic:

Operational Independence of the Individual System: If the system of systems is disassembled into its component systems the component systems must be able to usefully operate independently. The system of systems is composed of systems which are independent and useful in their own right.

Managerial Independence of the individual system: The component systems not only can operate independently but they do operate independently to achieve an intended purpose. The component systems are individually acquired and integrated and maintain a continuing operational existence independent of those served by system of systems.

Geographic Distribution: The geographic extent of the component systems is large. Often, the individual constituent system can readily exchange only information and knowledge with one another, and not any substantial quantity of physical mass or energy.

Emergent Behavior: The system performs functions and carries out purposes that do not reside in any component system. It is the production of global patterns of behaviour by agents in a complex system interacting according to their own local rules of behaviour, without intending the global patterns of behaviour that come about.

Evolutionary Development: The system of systems does not appear fully formed. Its development and existence is evolutionary with functions and purposes added, removed, and modified with experience.

There is a difference between system of systems project and traditional projects. Traditional project management involves very disciplined and deliberate planning and control methods. With this approach, distinct project life cycle phases are easily identified. Tasks are completed one after another in an orderly sequence, requiring a significant part of the project to be planned up front. For example, in a construction project, the team needs to determine requirements, design and plan for the entire building, and not just incremental components, in order to understand the full scope of the effort.

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Traditional project management assumes that events affecting the project are predictable and that tools and activities are well understood. In addition, with traditional project management, once a phase is complete, it is assumed that it will not be revisited. The strengths of this approach are that it lays out the steps for development and stresses the importance of requirements. The limitations are that projects rarely follow the sequential flow, and clients usually find it difficult to completely state all requirements early in the project.

As for the System of Systems project management the requirements are emerging. The emergence exists in the project mainly due to the unclear of the followings that cause the complication:

Structural Complexity – uncertainty of scope/time/cost, not very adaptive, things occurring in parallel, communication dominated by rules and each change sets of a chain reaction.

Technical Complexity – black box syndrome/multiple alternatives, uncommunicative, pursuing their own area that can lead to chaos

Directional Complexity – no consistently understood and agreed direction, goals not shared and project can be quite chaotic

Temporal Complexity- goals change with time, poor communication

Examples of System of Systems are:

The Internet: The Internet, the global computer-to- computer communications network, is an example of a collaborative system-of-systems. Its elements are themselves computer networks and major computer sites. Some of these component networks may also be composed of further sub networks. Internet component sites collaboratively exchange information using documented protocols. Protocol adherence is largely voluntary with no central authority with coercive power. Coercive power emerges through agreements among major sites to block traffic and sites observed to misbehave

Integrated Air Defence: The air defences of modern military forces are clear examples of systems-of- systems. An integrated air defence system is composed of a geographically dispersed network of semi-autonomous elements. These include surveillance radars, passive surveillance systems, missile launch batteries, missile tracking and control sites, airborne surveillance and tracking radars, fighter aircraft, and anti-aircraft artillery. All units are tied together by a communications network with command and control applied at local, regional, and national centres.

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Airports: Independent systems for operation of each airline, leasing/selling of resources, air traffic control of this and other airports; support services of catering, rail and roads. An airport is another complex system; however, the airport involves aircraft, support trucks, baggage-handling equipment, and many other systems that can and do operate independently of each other. For the airport to function, it needs to have the right mix of these independent systems, and these systems need to cooperate with each other.

Traditional management models are not able to adequately provide structural support to complex projects due to the sheer size of the sub systems in the project which leads to uncertainty in scope, time and cost.

Although each element can be estimated very accurately, the sheer number of interdependent elements means a single change in one element in a system can set of a chain reaction involving other elements.

Management communication is controlled through hierarchy and rule bound communications channels that are formal. Communication pathways in complex projects are usually defined by small group of people who base their decisions on their prior knowledge using the input – output model. Environment for such projects are not very adaptive because when there is a protocol change certain sections can adapt fast and because of the size the changes certain areas are not fast and efficient and takes time to adapt. Too many activities taking place in parallel and can be chaotic and problems can multiply in a non linear way base on the seriousness of the problem.

General Systems Theory is able to apply to both traditional and systems of systems projects.

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General Systems Theory emphasized that real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (e.g. holism, synergism, Gestault). This particular organization determines a system, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc).

Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines ( biological, social, etc.), providing a basis for their unification. Systems concepts include: system-environment boundary, input, output, process, state, hierarchy, goal-directedness, and information.

Firstly there must have a working knowledge of the traditional processes and tools to make an intelligent decision. if you really take a close look at the so called modern methods of running projects, you will find the traditional methods are at their core more often than not. All projects, traditional or systems of systems must follow the laws of nature and thus have their constraints, i.e. time, money or resources. This shows that system of systems project management is really an attitude shift and possibly an updated operating model of the current reality which affects the way one use processes and tools to produce value. This doesn’t mean to discard traditional processes but to build on them or reconstruct them to accomplish project objectives.

In reality the hard part of determining how to conduct a project is really based upon once knowledge and experience. Knowledge of what has worked before, both for traditional and system of systems projects, and the experience to guide in making decisions based upon what one is trying to accomplish, for whom, when, and what will it take.

Reference: The University Of Adelaide Complex Project Management Course Materials

System Of Systems Engineering MO JAMSHIDI

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