Interpreting “systems architecting”



The UK Chapter of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE UK) commissioned research to illustrate the variety of usage of the terms architecture and architecting in the systems engineering community. These terms, though widely used, are rarely strictly defined, and the meaning attributed to the terms is not consistent even in formal publications. Using soft systems methodology, this research has analyzed three published sources (MODAF [, 2008], The Art of Systems Architecting by Maier and Rechtin [CRC Press, 2009], and ISO/IEC 42010 [2011]), and conducted a series of interviews with systems architecting practitioners. This research was set in context by a historical review of the use of the term systems architecting. Twelve contentious questions in systems architecting are discussed, and six perspectives on systems architecting presented, including three basic worldviews of the relationship between systems engineering and systems architecting. One model sees systems architecting as simply a rebranding of systems engineering to broaden its appeal with no change in content. Another model sees systems engineering restricted to its traditional processes, with systems architecting adding to systems engineering through external processes. The final model, and the most popular among the systems engineering community surveyed, sees systems architecting addressing shortcomings in traditional sequential lifecycle models by stretching the content of systems engineering to include new elements under the banner of systems architecting. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Syst Eng 15.