zGuide 11

Z 11

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Issue 1.0
June 2014


Project Management and Systems Engineering

Common Goals

When delivering projects, particularly complex ones, systems engineering (SE) and project management (PM) both desire a successful outcome - completing the project with the realisation of a new or changed system.

PM focuses on controlling the introduction of the desired change. SE focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early, then proceeding with design and validation, while considering the whole problem.

PM & SE add the most value to a project when there is clarity over PM & SE roles and responsibilities, together with mutual respect and understanding of each others areas of focus, aided by a common language for project artefacts, roles and skills. Together they can establish and satisfy the right balance of stakeholder needs between time, quality and cost.

This Z-guide indicates where the key touch points between SE and PM occur, suggesting where close cooperation may achieve the greatest impact on successful project outcomes.

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This is a joint guide with the Association for Project Management. For more details see: www.apm.org.uk

Key touch points between Project Management and Systems Engineering

Key touch points between Project Management and Systems Engineering

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Clarity, understanding and good communication will improve decision making and outcomes. This is more rewarding for all the participants.

Having the right people fully informed at agreed decision points in the project lifecycle supports better decision making and forward planning, through:

Clarity of Responsibility

A RASCI table undertaken at the start of a project is a simple technique to provide clarity of roles and responsibilities, helping avoid confusion.

Mutual Understanding

They may share the same ultimate goal but SE and PM will naturally have a different focus, skills and competencies, perspectives and culture. Understanding each other will improve project outcomes.

Common Language

Agreeing and using a common language, perhaps aided by a common glossary, will further reduce misunderstanding and confusion between disciplines.

In this guide, readers should treat the term project management in the widest sense, to include project managers, programme managers and portfolio managers.

Further Reading

Association for Project Management: www.apm.org.uk/memberresources

INCOSE UK: www.incoseonline.org.uk

ISO/IEC15288, A Framework for Systems and Software Engineering Life Cycle Processes.

NASA Project Management & System Engineering Competency Framework: www.appel.nasa.gov


APM Association for Project Management
CBS Cost breakdown structure
INCOSE  International Council on Systems Engineering
KPI Key performance indicator
OBS Organisational breakdown structure
P3M Project, programme and portfolio management
PBS Product breakdown structure
PM Project management
PMP Project management plan
RASCI Responsible, accountable, support, consulted, informed
SE Systems engineering
SEMP System engineering management plan
WBS Work breakdown structure

This leaflet is intended to highlight the key activities and deliverables in typical projects. Clarity, mutual understanding and common language are essential for both SE and PM. They will have significant impacts on the success of the project, programme or portfolio.

For further information, advice and links to helpful websites go to: http://www.incoseonline.org.uk

Download copies of this leaflet and other Systems Engineering resources online at: www.incoseonline.org.uk

For more information about Project Management, go to the Association for Project Management website at: www.apm.org.uk

For more information about the worldwide Systems Engineering professional community, go to: www.incose.org

Series editor: hazel.woodcock@uk.ibm.com
Lead author: david.sherry@chemringts.com (APM and INCOSE UK Member)

©2014 UK Chapter, International Council on Systems Engineering & Association for Project Management