The Technical Assessment process provides a fact-based understanding of the current level of product knowledge, technical maturity, program status and technical risk by comparing assessment results against defined criteria. These assessment results enable a better understanding of the health and maturity of the program, giving the Program Manager (PM) a sound technical basis upon which to make program decisions.
Technical assessments against agreed-upon measures enable data-driven decisions. Evidence-based evaluations that communicate progress and technical risk are essential for the PM to determine the need for revised program plans or technical risk mitigation actions throughout the acquisition life cycle.
Technical Assessment provides:
- An evaluation of the program’s technical progress measured against the expected/planned performance for that period of time.
- An objective means of identifying, quantifying and monitoring a system’s technical risks.
- A rigorous method to help define corrective actions that may be needed to address and resolve identified technical risks.
Disciplined technical assessment activities begin early in a system’s life cycle. These activities begin by examining the status of development planning activities and efforts in the Materiel Solution Analysis (MSA) phase. During the Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) and Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phases, technical assessments provide a basis for tracking development of the system and lower-level system element designs.
Disciplined technical assessments support the establishment of the various baselines and achievement of system verification. Technical assessment activities also include manufacturing and production activities during the Production and Deployment (P&D) phase and continue through the Operations and Support (O&S) phase to support reliability growth and sustainment engineering efforts.
Role of the PM and SE
The PM and Systems Engineer evaluate technical maturity in support of program decisions at the key event-driven technical reviews and audits (see DAG CH 3–3.3. Technical Reviews and Audits) that occur throughout the acquisition life cycle. The PM and Systems Engineer use various measures and metrics, including Technical Performance Measures (TPM) and leading indicators, to gauge technical progress against planned goals, objectives and requirements. (See DAG CH 3–184.108.40.206. Technical Performance Measures for more information.)
Technical Assessment Activities and Products
The PM should ensure that technical assessments routinely occur throughout the life cycle on a reporting timeline that supports forecasting and timely resolution of risks -- informing decision makers of technical progress to plan and supporting EVMS. Some elements of technical assessments should be done on a monthly basis to inform programmatic attention, while other assessments may be quarterly or yearly. In all cases the assessment timelines should allow for tracking trends over time to show stability and impact of correction actions before major reviews and milestones. The PM should ensure that assessments are appropriately contracted, resourced and staffed, and include appropriate stakeholder and subject matter expert participation.
Technical assessment products should form the basis of both the input criteria as well as the output of event-driven criteria for Technical reviews and audits (see DAG CH 3–3.3. Technical Reviews and Audits). For example, percentage completion of documents/drawings could be entrance criteria for the review, and the output is an objective assessment of technical progress, maturity and risk. Technical assessments need to be considered as part of all SE processes (see DAG CH 3–4. Additional Planning Considerations); all SE processes support activities that contribute to the assessment of program status, technical maturity, and risk in various areas (e.g., schedule, technology, manufacturing, and/or threat).
Activities of the PM
The PM should approve the Technical Assessment products for the program as part of three documents: (1) the performance measurement baseline (PMB) (see DAG CH 1–220.127.116.11.1.) to capture time-phased measures against the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) (see DAG CH 3–18.104.22.168. Technical Performance Measures); (2) a resource-allocated Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) (see DAG CH 3–22.214.171.124.); and (3) the Systems Engineering Plan (see DAG CH 3–2.2.) to govern the overall measures and metrics to be collected, update cycle, tasking, control thresholds and expected analysis.
Activities of the SE
The Systems Engineer assists the PM in planning and conducting the Technical Assessment process. This assistance may include advising on technical reviews and audits, defining the technical documentation and artifacts that serve as review criteria for each review/audit, and identifying technical performance measures and metrics. Specific activities should include:
- Establishing event-driven technical planning.
- Identifying appropriate measures and metrics.
- Conducting analyses to assess risks and develop risk mitigation strategies.
- Conducting assessments of technical maturity, process health and stability and risk to communicate progress to stakeholders and authorities at key decision points.
- Proposing changes in the technical approach to reduce the program’s technical risks.
- Advising the PM on the program’s technical readiness to proceed to the next phase of effort.
- decision maker stakeholders and subject matter experts as appropriate for reviews and audits.
Inputs and Outputs
Inputs to the Technical Assessment process should include approved program plans (e.g., Systems Engineering Plan, Acquisition Strategy (AS), Acquisition Program Baseline (APB), engineering products (i.e., TPMs, drawings, specifications and reports, prototypes, system elements and engineering development modules), and current performance metrics. Outputs may include various reports and findings (e.g., technical review reports, corrective actions, Program Support Assessment (PSA) findings or test reports).
Statutes, Regulations, Guidance
DAU Training Courses
Products and Tasks
|14-1-1: Develop and implement technical assessment metrics
- Identify appropriate technical measures and metrics to assess program health and technical progress.
- Document and update agreed-upon technical measures and metrics in the technical performance measures and metrics section of the program’s systems engineering plan.
- Incorporate appropriate technical measures and metrics reporting into the program’s contract(s) to obtain the required technical data from developers needed to assess program technical health and progress.
- Conduct analyses on the technical measures and metrics to determine risk and to develop risk mitigation strategies.
- Propose changes in the technical approach to address risk mitigation activities.
- Using the technical measures and metrics, conduct assessments of technical maturity, process health and stability, and risk to communicate progress to stakeholders and authorities at key decision points.
Source: AWQI eWorkbook