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Application of System Maturity Level to Cost and Schedule Risk in Major DoD Programs Open Access

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In an effort to control cost and schedule growth, the US Department of Defense mandates that defense acquisition programs perform Technology Readiness Acquisitions (TRAs) during the acquisition cycle. Technology maturity is widely believed to correlate with cost and schedule risk in complex development programs, with the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) the metric currently used for assessing technology maturity. However, while a schedule-related correlation has been demonstrated, no research has shown a statistically significant correlation between a system’s overall technology maturity and cost growth. This study demonstrates that an acceptable system level metric can be constructed with the available TRLs that aids in controlling cost growth. This work validates this metric as a useful tool for program managers and system engineering professionals. Utilizing published data on US Department of Defense acquisition programs, this study defines a System Maturity Level (SML) metric that can be computed from existing TRLs and is a statistically significant predictor of cost risk. A System Maturity Level cost-risk curve is also introduced in order to help engineering managers make cost-risk decisions.

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