Survey Report: Improving Integration of Program Management and Systems Engineering

In January 2011, International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and Project Management Institute (PMI®) formed a strategic alliance to advance the integration of the systems engineering and program management disciplines. That integration will lead to the delivery of better solutions for their organizations.

In October 2012, the organizations conducted a joint survey to better understand the roles of program manager and chief systems engineer and to gauge their current level of integration. The Consortium for Engineering Program Excellence (CEPE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provided strategic support in analyzing, reviewing and finalizing the survey results with INCOSE and PMI. The results of the analysis are presented here and validate that the cultural barrier does exist in many organizations.

The Report:


Whitepaper presented at the PMI Global Congress 2013—North America, New Orleans, October 2013.

Download the report here.

Data Analysis and Report by Edivandro Conforto, Monica Rossi, Eric Rebentisch and Josef Oehmen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Maria Pacenza (Project Management Institute)

For many years, a cultural barrier has existed between practitioners of systems engineering and of program management. Some systems engineers and program managers have developed the mindset that their work activities are separate from each other rather than part of an organic whole. Consequently, work often costs more, takes longer, and provides a suboptimal solution for the customer or end user. The leaders of INCOSE and PMI believe this cultural barrier and mindset can and must be overcome. By working together, the organizations hope to foster a team approach that will benefit their members and their organizations, and ultimately the stakeholders who depend on them.

INCOSE, PMI and MIT plan to use the survey findings to raise awareness of the implications of that cultural barrier to practitioners of both disciplines and to uncover potential areas of collaboration between the three organizations. CEPE’s complimentary research efforts will help develop new knowledge, insights, and tools that enable better integration and outcomes in engineering programs. Together, they will help to create a new mindset. The new mindset is the understanding that both disciplines are two interlocking pieces of a puzzle. When they are separate, only partial views of reality can be seen. Only when they are synergistically brought together can the larger picture become clear, and the puzzle can be solved.