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HomeSoftware EngineeringSix Acquisition Pathways for Giant-Scale, Complicated Programs

Six Acquisition Pathways for Giant-Scale, Complicated Programs

In software program acquisition as in software program structure, one measurement doesn’t match all. Complicated mixed-criticality methods require a versatile government-acquisition system for approval, oversight, and funding. Our earlier weblog put up described how technical reference frameworks (TRFs) present versatile computing and infrastructure environments by the use of modular elements that align a sample of temporal must scale with the processing wants for reusable area architectures. TRFs handle the complete vary of army capabilities, juxtaposing the boundaries of criticality and scale. On this put up we present how you can map TRFs to the totally different pathways that compose the DoD’s Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF).

Acquisition Flexibility

Complicated architectures of architectures comprising capabilities of blended criticality require a mixing of various TRFs. As proven in Determine 1, a single, unified acquisition technique that might additionally apply a unified technical structure for such a system of methods (referred to henceforth extra compactly as “methods”) would set up synthetic processes and bounds for growing, securing, working, and bettering these methods.


Determine 1: Coexisting Programs at Completely different Time Scales in a System of Programs

Simply as TRFs are tuned and optimized for the totally different scales wherein these methods function, the methods and practices for buying these methods have to be equally tuned and optimized. In response to this want, the DoD launched the Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) to instantiate flexibility and agility as foundational parts for product improvement and lifecycle administration throughout all acquisition packages. The AAF may be pursued successfully by enveloping the DoD Digital Engineering Technique, thereby placing the fitting instruments into the fitting locations for the product being pursued. This strategy additional helps the acquisition neighborhood handle distinctive functionality wants and danger profiles whereas encouraging customization.

To restrict complexity and reduce danger, program government officers and program managers historically apply an acquisition technique that self-limits the obtainable choices. These acquisition practices ignore the cadence, necessities, and danger profile that uniquely characterize the kinds of elements or subsystems being created, and as an alternative apply a standard schedule-driven cadence and main-event-like necessary programmatic critiques in packages that want a distinct strategy. Ways for coping with technical complexity and future supply wants of innovation may be launched over time, however at an applicable tempo for the goal know-how, program necessities, schedule, and finances.

The TRFs utilized in mixed-criticality methods ought to due to this fact be structured to deal with layering-on these downstream options and deploying them in risk-prudent strategies which can be conscious of the warfighter wants whereas addressing applicable security/safety issues. Happily, the AAF permits packages to compose the strategy in ways in which greatest match the know-how and use case of the totally different components of the acquisition in probably the most environment friendly method. It affords appreciable flexibility to determination authorities and packages relating to acquisition technique, governance devices, and general execution of this system.

Particularly, DoDI 5000.02, Part 3.1 prices determination authorities with

  • tailoring of program methods and oversight
  • timing and scope of determination critiques
  • phasing of functionality content material over time
  • pathway choice and adaptation (see Determine 4 beneath)

By this acquisition reform, DoD empowers the professionals doing the work with engineering the constructs, governance, and processes that allow profitable achievement of program goals. Recognizing that necessities and danger profiles are distinctive to every program and due to this fact require totally different acquisition methods for one main functionality acquisition (MCA), the DoD created six pathways, proven in Determine 2 beneath, geared toward streamlining and lowering the chance related to the acquisition of IT methods, merchandise, and companies.


The flexibleness and steering offered by DoD 5000.02 presents choices to discover a number of pathways to match the acquisition technique to program wants. It allows acquirers to supply tailor-made assist for this system’s distinctive traits and danger profile.

Of the six pathways, each the Software program Acquisition and Protection Enterprise Programs pathways current alternatives to discover the appliance of TRFs. Software program methods, together with both weapon or enterprise methods, want to make use of TRFs applicable to the technical area being addressed. These decisions make it doable for this system to realize its goals by leveraging environments that may be utilized to their wants, as an alternative of making their very own setting(s) every time.

Software program Acquisition Pathway

Of explicit curiosity, the Software program Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 3 beneath, allows a program workplace to outline an acquisition technique that leverages present software-delivery frameworks and introduces flexibility into planning and execution. This pathway encourages software-development practices, comparable to Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, and Lean, and provides a program the agility to discover cutting-edge improvement strategies and applied sciences. By the iterative nature of the pathway, disclosure on the traits of the design will get to stakeholders early and sometimes. Stakeholders and distributors talk all through design and improvement with the federal government, offering enter and gaining clarification as applicable.


In brief, the Software program Acquisition pathway

  • allows steady integration and supply of software program functionality on timelines acceptable to the conflict­fighter and finish person, or mission requirement
  • is the popular path for acquisition and improvement of software-intensive methods
  • establishes business-decision artifacts to handle danger and allow profitable software program acquisition and improvement

The Software program Acquisition pathway is suitable for military-unique capabilities, comparable to real-time command-and-control performance, the place the design is concentrated on custom-built or extremely custom-made software program. Using TRFs 1 and a pair of could also be nicely fitted to these methods.

Nonetheless, the Software program Acquisition pathway is probably going not applicable for purchasing enterprise methods which can be made up largely of industrial off-the-shelf (COTS) merchandise with some minor alterations or code-only enhancements (extra on this later).

Extra Pathways for Consideration

Pressing Functionality Acquisition

The Pressing Functionality Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 4 beneath, is reserved for capabilities required to save lots of lives or verify mission accomplishment. This pathway employs a Lean acquisition course of that fields capabilities fulfilling pressing current or rising operational wants or fast reactions in lower than two years.

Various kinds of merchandise may be fielded as an pressing functionality. It’s due to this fact exhausting to say the usage of a particular TRF for the sort of acquisition, although TRFs 1 and a pair of could also be appropriate. One benefit of utilizing these frameworks in fast functionality acquisition is that the hassle to determine and handle the event and deployment setting may be leveraged throughout many packages, releasing sources to concentrate on the uniquely wanted army functionality. It could probably additionally assist scale the productionization of an pressing functionality if its utility is confirmed particularly worthwhile within the warfighting area.


Center Tier of Acquisition

The Center Tier of Acquisition (MTA) pathway, enlarged in Determine 5 beneath, is used to quickly develop fieldable prototypes inside an acquisition program to display new capabilities or quickly subject manufacturing portions of methods with confirmed applied sciences that require minimal improvement. The MTA pathway is meant to fill a niche within the protection acquisition system for these capabilities with a stage of maturity that permits fast prototyping inside an acquisition program or fielded inside 5 years of the MTA program begin. The MTA pathway can be utilized to speed up functionality maturation earlier than transitioning to a different acquisition pathway or to minimally develop a functionality earlier than quickly fielding.


The rapid-prototyping path supplies for the usage of modern applied sciences and new capabilities to quickly develop fieldable prototypes to display new capabilities and meet rising army wants. The goals of an acquisition program below this path contain fielding a prototype that was efficiently demonstrated in an operational setting and to supply a residual operational functionality inside 5 years of this system begin date. Digital-prototyping fashions are acceptable in the event that they yield a fieldable residual operational functionality. MTA packages will not be deliberate to exceed 5 years to completion and, in execution, won’t exceed 5 years after MTA program begin and not using a protection acquisition government (DAE) waiver.

The rapid-fielding path supplies for the usage of current merchandise and confirmed applied sciences to subject manufacturing portions of latest or upgraded methods with minimal improvement required. The target of an acquisition program below this path is to start manufacturing inside six months and full fielding inside 5 years of the MTA program begin date. The manufacturing begin date of the MTA program won’t exceed six months after the MTA program begin date and not using a DAE waiver.

Comparable advantages to the usage of TRFs 1 and a pair of within the improvement of pressing capabilities apply to the acquisition of middle-tier capabilities. This acquisition is especially worthwhile provided that middle-tier merchandise are sometimes productized in a number of portions, fielded for longer durations, and topic to evolving calls for for functionality that might be delivered with software program upgrades. TRFs 1 and a pair of are notably appropriate for this setting.

Protection Enterprise Programs Pathway


Determine 6 exhibits the pathway and the cyclical Enterprise Functionality Acquisition Cycle. The authority to proceed (ATP) gates compartmentalize the phases, and the method reduces a lot of the paperwork required in DoDI 5000.02. Particulars relating to the execution of the pathway may be discovered at The pathway will depend on steady course of enchancment and might be leveraged as a streamlined path for buying elements which can be commercially obtainable.

Acquisition of Providers

This pathway, enlarged in Determine 7 beneath, is meant to determine the required companies, analysis the potential contractors, contract for the companies, and handle efficiency. The pathway actions are damaged into three phases: plan, develop, and execute. This pathway is described within the DoD Handbook for the Coaching and Growth of the Providers Acquisition Workforce.


Main Functionality Acquisition

A Main Functionality Acquisition (MCA) pathway acquires and modernizes military-unique packages that present enduring functionality. It’s exhausting to conceive of any MCA that might not be software-reliant. Ought to that be the case, a blended strategy to the authorities of the assorted acquisition pathways would match one of the best framework to the enterprise wants of this system comparable to proven in Determine 8. Matching business incentives and enterprise fashions may be tuned to the kind of exercise, sources, and cadence of motion. General execution danger could be lowered by combining these insurance policies in a coordinated trend.


Determine 8: Main Functionality Acquisition as a Composition of Acquisition Frameworks

As beforehand described, there’s a correlation between acquisition pathways and TRFs. Determine 9 presents a mapping of how these might be utilized. Main capabilities would, in lots of circumstances, be tied to a particular army platform (sea-going, land-based, flight car, spacecraft, and many others.). These autos would require real-time management methods for which TFR 1 is greatest suited. As well as, the platform-level integration of methods and subsystems may be derived from cross-platform product strains. The applying of these merchandise into new main capabilities would offer the propelling must transition into TRFs to scale back execution and integration danger for the general enterprise. These military-unique capabilities developed below the Center Tier or Software program Acquisition pathways might be constructed on TRFs 1, 2, and three.

Establishing improvement and deployment environments for functionality, in addition to the modeling and amenities used to assist improvement testing, operational testing, and lifecycle assist companies might be acquired below a mixture of the Acquisition of Providers and Protection Enterprise Programs pathways. These capabilities would probably be greatest fitted to the usage of TRF 3.


Determine 9: Correlation of TRFs and an MCA

On this put up, we now have proven that DoD acquisition packages now not should go it alone and settle for the burden of unbounded technical danger in the case of constructing their mission methods, or the assist companies that they’d rely on. What we prescribe right here is nicely throughout the realm of technical achievement at the moment. The largest problem is to wrangle the construction of the acquisition setting, the funding fashions, and the cultural incentives.

Future Evolution of TRFs for Blended-Criticality Programs

Because the idea of TRFs features traction and extra methods are compelled to comply with go well with, the strategies of integration, improvement testing, and operational testing should evolve as nicely. As well as, the strategies of managing interoperability should evolve to deal with repeatedly evolving functionality within the subject, delivered on totally different time horizons, and to handle shifting interoperability/evolving performance over a lifecycle of a long time.



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