Acquisition Strategies for Dealing with Uncertainty
Stevens, Renee G.
King, Margaret K.
Halley, Marc R.
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The acquisition and engineering of large scale, complex information systems, particularly those that transcend organizational and functional boundaries, represent well-recognized challenges. The processes and procedures that evolved during the second half of the 20th century are best suited for the development of linear, well-bounded systems. These processes have proven difficult to adapt to situations in which stakeholders do not always agree, requirements evolve, and constraints keep changing. Different processes and procedures are needed to address the acquisition and engineering of information technology systems with evolving requirements and rapidly changing technologies. This paper is based on the results of a multi-year research program that investigated how uncertainty-based acquisition methods can be used to improve the odds of successful IT acquisitions. The paper presents new concepts for managing uncertainty in acquisition programs: the uncertainty landscape, uncertainty driven acquisition strategies (staged commitment, small bets), the Y model, and a three-step approach to implementation (i.e., diagnosis, strategy selection, and adaptive execution). More than 20 acquisition programs were studied, and pilot programs were initiated to test the frameworks and strategies suggested in the research.
Proceedings Paper (for Acquisition Research Program)Approved for public release; distribution unlimited.
NPS Report NumberNPS-AM-09-033
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