“The BKCASE products continue to provide a living, shared and authoritative guide to the full scope of Systems Engineering Knowledge, becoming the most used reference in the world to guide systems engineering graduate education and systems engineering practice.” – BKCASE Vision 2014
The vision for the future of the BKCASE products is in three parts and covers the content of the SEBOK, how to best engage with the stakeholder community to evolve both the SEBoK and GRCSE, and how to ensure BKCASE products have maximum impact on the future of systems engineering.
Considering the SEBoK content raises three specific questions. Firstly, is the scope of the SEBoK parts and knowledge areas sufficient? By setting its scope broadly to include areas such as Systems, Organising to Enable SE and related disciplines I believe the SEBoK provides a very good starting point. There may be some fine tuning of the structure needed. For example, adding additional specialism’s to Part 6. The most significant challenge for the SEBoK structure is to improve the integration of knowledge across the current knowledge areas. There are a number of cross cutting themes such as architecture, systems of systems, modelling, safety, agility, etc. which impact all aspects of SE lifecycle thinking. Finding a way to make these threads clearly visible to SEBoK readers without compromising the integrity of the current structure would be my number one challenge for the next 2 or 3 SEBoK updates.
Secondly, what areas of SE knowledge need to be further matured? One of the most exciting parts of the SEBoK project is its ability to stimulate research in SE and related topics. From my own experience of Part 2 of the SEBoK we have already had a significant impact on the systems science community. When we first suggested a Systems part to the SEBoK we expected to find a mature and coherent body of systems science to refer to. What we found instead was that, while there is plenty of systems research and theory out there the systems science community does not have an agreed set of foundations and principles. Working with the BKCASE team has prompted this community to begin to create these foundations and to consider how it relates to SE and others. This engagement has not only added to Systems Science but has raised the profile of SE and INCOSE. Other areas in which similar benefits could be found are Service and Enterprise Systems and the fuller integration of Systems of Systems, Systems Architecture and Models Based SE into the mainstream of SE practice. The SEBoK could also be a focal point for bringing together work on competencies and organisation with SE knowledge. I would like to see the BKCASE Editorial Board taking a leading role in promoting this research agenda.
Finally and most importantly, is the detailed content within the SEBoK parts and knowledge areas good enough? There is still work to be done in bringing all of the SEBoK content up to a maturity at which it can claim to be a definitive guide to the SE body of knowledge. There is still work to be done reviewing the current literature and ensuring the most relevant references are used; and putting in place a mechanism to ensure the SEBoK continues to follow future developments in the literature. The key to reaching and sustaining this maturity is to continue the process of engaging with the community, as discussed below.
The second part of my vision considers engagement with the wider community. Good progress has been made on this by the Editorial Board. The current editors have a strong breadth of knowledge and good connections into the SE community. One of the strongest ways to connect with the community would be to build more formal relationships with INCOSE working groups. I would look to strengthen both of these things by continuing to recruit new editors and assigning some of them to work directly with the WG’s. I am less familiar with the IEEE computer society, but I am sure there are specific areas of the SEBoK in which similar relationships could be formed. The SEBoK Sandbox has already been successful in engaging participation and review of the body of knowledge by a wider SE community. There are ways to strengthen this by continuing to explore collaborative models of reviewer engagement and possible in adding wiki additional functionality to facilitate this. This could be through calls for focused reviews of particular areas of content or through outreach via SE webinars, conferences and other events.
While the primary focus of the SEBoK should be to engage with as wide a constituency as possible, I believe GRCSE should become a primary focus for the SE academic community. There is still work to be done within the current GRCSE. In particular, we need to tighten up the links between the SEBoK and the GRCSE CorBok. We also need to validate aspects of the GRCSE approach with more University programs. Given that, GRCSE could be a very strong product to allow INCOSE and IEEE to promote more SE programs across the University sector. There are potential extensions to GRCSE which would help with this, such as versions of the CorBoK for under graduate courses or continuing professional development. To take GRCSE forward I would seek create a joint INCOSE/IEEE curriculum working group, affiliated with the BKCASE editorial board, to own and develop GRCSE. The Case Studies in SEBoK Part 7 are potentially a way to increase involvement in the SEBoK and a resource for the academic community. I would ask the academic community to help create a framework and process for practitioners and organisations to provide case studies.
Finally, the BKCASE EIC will need to help the steward organisations promote integration of the SEBoK and GRCSE into future SE developments. One obvious example of this is the relationship between SEBoK, the INCOSE SE Handbook, and Certification. While the short term plan remains to keep the SE Handbook as a distinct product and use it for certification, in the longer term there are many advantages to finding a way to transition to a central role for SEBoK in professional recognition. The future challenge is to keep the SEBoK free and available to all, and to find spin off products to provide financial benefit for the stewards. One might imagine a suite of guides to aspects of SE, referring to the SEBoK but focused on aspects of certification, professional development or education. The amount of effort put into the SE handbook by INCOSE at the moment could and should be channelled into these kinds of activity. How else might we both ensure the prestige of the BKCASE products and secure their financial viability? One possible approach is to use the SEBoK wiki itself to help do this, possible through sponsored links. However, the commercial challenges of this approach need to be very carefully considered. There are no easy answers to this problem but it is critically dependent on the continuing development and reputation of the SEBoK, GRCSE and possible future products. This should be the primary job of the EIC and the successful candidate should be ready to work with the governors to help secure the future of these essential products at the heart of SE.