Friday, January 17, 2014

System Integrator

Here in the USA, we've heard a lot about the 'system integrator' of late, mostly having to do with large-scale government projects run awry.

The questions at hand: what is a system integrator and what do they do?

Point 1: the term is "SI"; and they are independent from the system engineer "SE" and the architect
Point 2: the SI works directly for the PMO, not the SE or the architect in most cases... thus, maintaining a degree of independence from the SE
Point 3: the SI comes on the job early, typically from day-1, working down the project definition side of the "V" chart
Point 4: the SI is first responsible for the coherence of the specifications and the test plan. Thus, the SI is an independent evaluator ("red team") of specifications, looking for inconsistencies, white space gaps, sequencing and dependency errors, and metric inconsistencies

Point 5: the SI is an independent technical reviewer for the PMO of the progress on technical and functional performance. They can be an independent trouble-shooter, but the SI is looking for inappropriate application of tools, evaluation of root cause, and effectiveness of testing.

Point 6: the SI may be an independent integrator of disparate parts that may require some custom connectivity. This is particularly the case when addressing a portfolio. The SI may be assigned the role of pulling disparate projects together with custom connectors.

Point 7: the SI is an independent integration tester and evaluator, typically moving up the "V" from verification to validation
Point 8: in a tough situation, the SI may be your new best friend!
What about agile?
'Agile-and-system-engineering' is always posed as a question. My answer is: "of course, every project is a system of some kind and needs a system engineering treatment". More on this here and here.

And, by extension, large scale agile projects can benefit from an SI, though the pre-planned specification review role may be less dominate, and other inspections, especially the red team role for releases, will be more dominate.

Need to review the "V-model"? Here's the image; check out the explanation here.

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