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An Exploratory Study to Identify Critical Success Factors of Agile Systems Engineering Open Access

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With latest IT trends in the industry, choosing the appropriate systems engineering methodology aligned with the project and team characteristics is often a challenge for project leads. The endorsement of Agile methods in systems engineering is no exception. Agile systems engineering is an emerging approach where the concepts of agile software development are applied in the systems engineering domain. For many projects, it is difficult to determine if Agile methods are appropriate and whether the Agile methods would contribute to a successful implementation. Knowledge of factors critical to project success enables managers to plan and allocate appropriate resources to innovative processes. This research paper provides evidence from an exploratory survey on the presence of Critical Success Factors (CSFs) of Agile Systems Engineering (ASE). The CSFs are the necessary “enablers” that lead to successful implementation of projects. The CSFs were compiled through literature research and subject matter expert (SME) interviews. Data on use of identified CSFs in ASE projects was collected through survey of practitioners of Agile Software Development (ASD), ASE and project management. Hypothesis testing using Mann-Whitney U test showed which CSF had a statistically significant relation with the project success. Project success was defined as the project (i) being completed on schedule, (ii) within budget, (iii) within scope, and (iv) final delivery meeting with customer and user expectations. Six out of the eight initially proposed factors were identified as the CSFs of ASE in this study. Two case studies were conducted to illustrate the relation between the usage of the CSFs and project success. The results provide a basis for project leaders to make informed decisions when selecting Agile methods, thereby enabling leadership to prioritize resources for given systems engineering endeavor.

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