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Assessing the Probability of Prototyping Success in Systems Acquisitions (APOPS) Open Access

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In a 2007 memorandum, John Young, Under Secretary of Defense at that time, mandated the use of “competitive prototyping” strategies prior to the System Design and Development phase (Young, 2007). Department of Defense Instruction 5000.02 also includes considerations for prototyping in the acquisition strategy (Department of Defense Instruction [DoDI] 5000.2, 2017). Young’s memo (p. 1) listed five benefits of prototyping, which are expected to “reduce technical risk, validate designs, validate cost estimates, evaluate manufacturing processes, and refine requirements.” However, a process to assess whether, and to what extent, a prototype will be or has been successful in achieving these benefits is not currently in use by the Department of Defense or elsewhere. Because cost increases and schedule extension downsides are inherent in prototyping, such an assessment is critical to determine whether these benefits can be achieved or outweigh the drawbacks. This research proposes an approach for assessing a prototype’s likelihood of success in achieving expected prototyping benefits based on identifying the factors yielding these benefits as well as their relative weights.

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