The Systems Engineering Process


Several young engineers have reached out to me recently using LinkedIn's system and asked how I start a project. I thought it might be good to share my typical answer publicly.

As a Systems Engineer, I tend to use the tools taught to me by Terry Bahill at the University of Arizona, particularly the SIMILAR process, an acronym for:

  1. State the Problem
  2. Investigate Alternatives
  3. Model the System
  4. Integrate
  5. Launch the System
  6. Assess Performance
  7. Reevaluate

This is the process that I use for all of my and general decision-making. Software design, and really all design, is an iterative and fractal process; so, SIMILAR is not only applied to a new top-level system, but also each of its sub-systems, and their modules, and their components, and their models, and so on. Obviously, the tools for completing each of the SIMILAR steps vary depending on your role, development stack, the size of your team, and the scope of the project. But, the process remains the same.

If you'd like to learn more about what each step means, I recommend reading Dr. Bahill's full write up on the process here: