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Acquiring Systems, Not Just Software

Created December 2017

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and federal agencies are increasingly acquiring software-intensive systems instead of building them with internal resources. However, acquisition programs frequently have difficulty identifying the critical software acquisition activities, deliverables, risks, and opportunities.

Project Risk Increasing for Software-Reliant Systems

The DoD, federal agencies, allies, and commercial industries depend on software-reliant systems to achieve their missions. However, project risk increases for such systems due to growing complexity in these systems, changing development paradigms (such as Agile methods and app stores), and increasing emphasis on employing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions as a means to save cost and shorten development times.

Applying SEI Expertise to Help Programs Succeed

The SEI works directly with acquisition programs to help them achieve their objectives and reduce software-related project risk. Teams of SEI technical experts work in acquisition environments in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other DoD and civil agencies, applying SEI products and services in specific contexts.

Acquisition program managers not only must grasp practical business concerns but also understand multiple software topics as diverse as risk identification and mitigation, selection and integration of COTS components, process capability, program management, architecture, survivability, interoperability, source selection, and contract monitoring. The SEI has spent more than two decades compiling a body of knowledge in software acquisition and developing solutions for these topics.

SEI technical experts apply innovative combinations of SEI products and services to assist programs while identifying software acquisition challenges, investigating trends, and developing new solutions. SEI teams apply their expertise to

  • transition technologies and practices to improve DoD software-intensive systems
  • perform diagnostics such as Independent Technical Assessments (ITAs) and Independent Expert Program Reviews (IEPRs)
  • assist with preparing requests for proposals (RFPs) for challenging software acquisition efforts
  • assist with technical evaluations of software aspects of proposals and deliverables
  • develop new software acquisition strategies, technologies, and practices
  • transition technologies and practices to the DoD acquisition community's collaborators
  • review and advise the DoD on acquisition policy related to software-intensive systems

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