HomeSoftware EngineeringSix Acquisition Pathways for Massive-Scale, Complicated Methods

Six Acquisition Pathways for Massive-Scale, Complicated Methods

In software program acquisition as in software program structure, one dimension doesn’t match all. Complicated mixed-criticality techniques require a versatile government-acquisition system for approval, oversight, and funding. Our earlier weblog submit described how technical reference frameworks (TRFs) present versatile computing and infrastructure environments by way of modular parts 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 submit we present the right way to 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 will additionally apply a unified technical structure for such a system of techniques (referred to henceforth extra compactly as “techniques”) would set up synthetic processes and limits for growing, securing, working, and bettering these techniques.


Determine 1: Coexisting Methods at Totally different Time Scales in a System of Methods

Simply as TRFs are tuned and optimized for the totally different scales by which these techniques function, the methods and practices for buying these techniques 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 growth and lifecycle administration throughout all acquisition applications. The AAF may be pursued successfully by enveloping the DoD Digital Engineering Technique, thereby placing the appropriate instruments into the appropriate locations for the product being pursued. This method 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 out there choices. These acquisition practices ignore the cadence, necessities, and danger profile that uniquely characterize the varieties of parts or subsystems being created, and as an alternative apply a standard schedule-driven cadence and main-event-like necessary programmatic critiques in applications that want a unique method. Techniques for coping with technical complexity and future supply wants of innovation may be launched over time, however at an applicable tempo for the goal expertise, program necessities, schedule, and finances.

The TRFs utilized in mixed-criticality techniques ought to subsequently be structured to deal with layering-on these downstream options and deploying them in risk-prudent strategies which are aware of the warfighter wants whereas addressing applicable security/safety considerations. Fortuitously, the AAF permits applications to compose the method in ways in which greatest match the expertise 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 applications concerning acquisition technique, governance devices, and total execution of this system.

Particularly, DoDI 5000.02, Part 3.1 costs 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 under)

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 subsequently require totally different acquisition methods for one main functionality acquisition (MCA), the DoD created six pathways, proven in Determine 2 under, geared toward streamlining and lowering the danger related to the acquisition of IT techniques, merchandise, and providers.


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

Of the six pathways, each the Software program Acquisition and Protection Enterprise Methods pathways current alternatives to discover the appliance of TRFs. Software program techniques, together with both weapon or enterprise techniques, want to make use of TRFs applicable to the technical area being addressed. These selections make it attainable 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 surroundings(s) every time.

Software program Acquisition Pathway

Of specific curiosity, the Software program Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 3 under, 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, similar to Agile, DevOps, DevSecOps, and Lean, and provides a program the agility to discover cutting-edge growth 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 growth with the federal government, offering enter and gaining clarification as applicable.


Briefly, the Software program Acquisition pathway

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

The Software program Acquisition pathway is suitable for military-unique capabilities, similar 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 couple of could also be effectively suited to these techniques.

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

Further Pathways for Consideration

Pressing Functionality Acquisition

The Pressing Functionality Acquisition pathway, enlarged in Determine 4 under, 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 varieties of merchandise may be fielded as an pressing functionality. It’s subsequently arduous to claim using a particular TRF for the sort of acquisition, although TRFs 1 and a couple of could also be appropriate. One benefit of utilizing these frameworks in speedy functionality acquisition is that the hassle to ascertain and handle the event and deployment surroundings may be leveraged throughout many applications, releasing assets to give attention to the uniquely wanted army functionality. It could possible additionally assist scale the productionization of an pressing functionality if its utility is confirmed particularly priceless within the warfighting enviornment.


Center Tier of Acquisition

The Center Tier of Acquisition (MTA) pathway, enlarged in Determine 5 under, is used to quickly develop fieldable prototypes inside an acquisition program to exhibit new capabilities or quickly discipline manufacturing portions of techniques with confirmed applied sciences that require minimal growth. The MTA pathway is meant to fill a niche within the protection acquisition system for these capabilities with a degree of maturity that allows speedy 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 offers for using modern applied sciences and new capabilities to quickly develop fieldable prototypes to exhibit new capabilities and meet rising army wants. The goals of an acquisition program beneath this path contain fielding a prototype that was efficiently demonstrated in an operational surroundings and to offer 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 applications might 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 offers for using current merchandise and confirmed applied sciences to discipline manufacturing portions of recent or upgraded techniques with minimal growth required. The target of an acquisition program beneath 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 using TRFs 1 and a couple of within the growth of pressing capabilities apply to the acquisition of middle-tier capabilities. This acquisition is especially priceless 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 could possibly be delivered with software program upgrades. TRFs 1 and a couple of are significantly appropriate for this surroundings.

Protection Enterprise Methods 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 concerning the execution of the pathway may be discovered at The pathway relies on steady course of enchancment and could possibly be leveraged as a streamlined path for buying parts which are commercially out there.

Acquisition of Providers

This pathway, enlarged in Determine 7 under, is meant to determine the required providers, analysis the potential contractors, contract for the providers, 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 applications that present enduring functionality. It’s arduous to conceive of any MCA that will not be software-reliant. Ought to that be the case, a blended method to the authorities of the varied acquisition pathways would match the most effective framework to the enterprise wants of this system similar to proven in Determine 8. Matching trade incentives and enterprise fashions may be tuned to the kind of exercise, assets, and cadence of motion. Total execution danger can 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 could possibly be utilized. Main capabilities would, in lots of instances, be tied to a particular army platform (sea-going, land-based, flight automobile, spacecraft, and many others.). These autos would require real-time management techniques for which TFR 1 is greatest suited. As well as, the platform-level integration of techniques and subsystems may be derived from cross-platform product strains. The applying of these merchandise into new main capabilities would offer the propelling have to transition into TRFs to cut back execution and integration danger for the general enterprise. These military-unique capabilities developed beneath the Center Tier or Software program Acquisition pathways could possibly be constructed on TRFs 1, 2, and three.

Establishing growth and deployment environments for functionality, in addition to the modeling and services used to assist growth testing, operational testing, and lifecycle assist providers could possibly be acquired beneath a mixture of the Acquisition of Providers and Protection Enterprise Methods pathways. These capabilities would possible be greatest suited to using TRF 3.


Determine 9: Correlation of TRFs and an MCA

On this submit, we have now proven that DoD acquisition applications now not should go it alone and settle for the burden of unbounded technical danger in the case of constructing their mission techniques, or the assist providers that they’d rely on. What we prescribe right here is effectively inside the realm of technical achievement at the moment. The largest problem is to wrangle the construction of the acquisition surroundings, the funding fashions, and the cultural incentives.

Future Evolution of TRFs for Blended-Criticality Methods

Because the idea of TRFs beneficial properties traction and extra techniques are compelled to observe swimsuit, the strategies of integration, growth testing, and operational testing should evolve as effectively. As well as, the strategies of managing interoperability should evolve to handle repeatedly evolving functionality within the discipline, delivered on totally different time horizons, and to handle shifting interoperability/evolving performance over a lifecycle of a long time.



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