Systems and Software Interface Working Group

Increase the relevance of systems engineering in business settings that are software- and data-intensive, enabling the resilience (and anti-fragility) of organizations and the products, as well as the systems and services they produce

Working Group Purpose & Mission

Increase the relevance of systems engineering in business settings that are software- and data-intensive

We do this by:

  • improving mutual understanding of what each discipline does, and the value provided
  • developing work products to address additional knowledge or capabilities for each discipline, how they work together, what they jointly design and build,  and how to honor respective accountabilities
  • focusing at the interfaces of systems and software engineering and related disciplines, where there are gaps, duplications, conflicts and missed opportunities (missed leverage and synergy) to drive value


Interfaces include but are not limited to organizational, operational, process, project, product & services, technical (physical, logical, data) and human.

Related disciplines include but are not limited to digital engineering, data science, human centered design, innovation and product.

For information about our mission, work products or current activities, please contact us: [email protected]

Transformation Enablers

TechOps Domain







Jeannine Siviy


[email protected]

IW2024: International Workshop Focus

The SaSIWG intended to accomplish several activities during IW 2024.

Relevance and Impact

The overarching objective of this Working Group is to generate actionable work products for INCOSE’s Corporate Advisory Board (CAB) members and the global community, in response to their high priority  systems-software interface challenges and in alignment with the INCOSE Vision. The CAB has over 100 members, spanning 38+ nations and includes organizations from industry , government and academia. 

Current era software teams – spanning digital, data, and cyberphysical systems  - are critical to the success of any organization and constantly face the need to implement significant changes, whether product pivots, transformations or major infrastructure modernizations.

Such initiatives are often fraught with challenges.  A staggering two-thirds fail, translating into stifled growth, increased cost, imperiled business pivots, poor decision-making and workforce frustration and turnover:

  • 70% of digital transformation efforts fall short of targets (BCG),
  • 66% of software projects fail (Standish CHAOS report),
  • Unsuccessful development projects cost around $260B in the US alone, with operational costs from poor quality software reaching approximately $1.56 trillion (CISQ).
  • A lack of alignment between business and project results in failure for 44% of projects (Teamstage).
  • The potential revenue lost to competitors due to insufficiently relevant offerings is estimated at $1Trillion in the US (Accenture).


Underlying issues span technical systems (e.g., interfaces and interoperability), process systems (e.g., workflows, role accountabilities, team dynamics), organizational systems (business models, partnerships) and the ecosystems in which products and organizations exist (e.g., multisided platforms, partnerships).

These are systems problems, well aligned with Deming’s quote, “94% of problems in business are system driven.”

Unfortunately, many software organizations in these situations do not embrace Systems Engineering as a path to success, whether lacking awareness or perceiving it too onerous for value delivered.

SaSIWG was founded to address these “wicked problems” by confronting the interfaces and gaps between these professional disciplines, their teams and organizations, and the systems, products and services they create. It has evolved to include data intensive systems (which are digital), and to foster a breakthrough mindset that Systems Engineering is the keystone to success, to ensuring functioning and relevant products, services and solutions and to unleashing business and end-user value.   

Road Map

Based on market need, foundational papers, and member expertise, the SaSIWG has developed a prioritized roadmap to address business relevance and value, role interactions and team dynamics, program (and project team) kickoff and readiness, and technical solutions with particular attention on harmonized architectures and data and architecture patterns.


On the heels of publishing an eBook about the Business Relevance of Systems Engineering in 2023, the SaSIWG began its work on role relationships and interactions with the objective to use scenario-based business storytelling

  • to describe product and software team dynamics and challenges in the face of a large scale change, including a causal analysis of issues
  • to describe how the addition of systems engineering expertise resolves team-level pain points and delivers business value to the organization as well as a better experience to their users.
  • And to culminate in decision guidance that helps product and software teams and executives to recognize their situation and to know when to add systems expertise.


Our other roadmap phases are

  • to improve program readiness and kickoff with a kickstart workshop and a “Beer Game”-style* simulation, which might leverage the afore-mentioned roles interaction work by transforming our causal analysis to a full systems dynamics model and simulation
  • to improve technical solutions by creating a library of ontology and architectural patterns that reflect harmonized, aligned and traceable systems and software architectures. This work will be seeded by the experience and practices of thought leaders among our Working Group members and our colleagues. 


Each roadmap effort will yield, at minimum, reference papers or articles.  Some roadmap efforts will evolve to tools, reusable educational materials, and potentially standard practices within appropriate Bodies of Knowledge.


*the "Beer Game" is a supply chain simulation used in MBA programs and industrial training settings.  We envision a corollary simulation or gamification experience for Digital settings.


Our primary contributions to date have been publications (listed below), many for systems engineers and increasingly for digital executives and software, product and data professionals.

Our roadmap extends to guidance, reference patterns and other materials that may be incorporated into reference bodies of knowledge as well as used directly in the launch and implementation of programs and products.

We meet monthly as a Working Group for collaborative discussion and work product co-creation, and also commission subteams who meet at their convenience to work on specific projects. We hold multiple book clubs each year as well.

Work Products & Activities

    • (coming soon) Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBOK) articles for Systems Engineering Relevance in Software Settings, Defining the Systems-Software Interface, and (title placeholder for role relationships)
    • (submitted to IS2024)  FireSky: The Story of a Software Organization Realizing the Value of Systems Engineering
    • (in review) “System Engineering for Product Service Systems (PSS),” article for the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBOK), target publication Spring 2024
    • “IEEE Computer Society’s Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK V4),” article for the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBOK), October 2023
    • “The Business Value of Thinking In Systems (When You Are Building Software),” ebook, May 2023NewStoryTellersCover
    • “Illustrating the Business Relevance of Systems Engineering via Storytelling,” INCOSE International Symposium 2022
    • INCOSE Insight July 2021 Theme Issue: 7 papers
      • A Complex Adaptive Systems Engineering Methodology
      • “Book Club” Guides A Working Group to Create INCOSE System-Software Interface Products
      • System Engineering place in Software Organizations Delivering Service Products
      • System Test Approach for Complex Software Systems
      • Systems and Software Interface Survey
      • Systems Engineering and DevSecOps: Reviewing the Principles
      • Systems Thinking and Business Resilience: Questions That Should Keep Us Up at Night 
    • “ A Guide for Systems Engineers to Finding Your Role in 21st -Century Software-Dominant Organizations,” INCOSE International Symposium 2021  ***Best Paper***
    • “Key Problems and Needs Survey Findings,” INCOSE International Symposium 2020
    • What are Cyberphysical systems and What needs to change?” INCOSE International Symposium 2019
    • “INCOSE Working Group Addresses System & Software Interfaces,” INCOSE International Symposium 2018

    Learning Sessions

    We conduct 2 Book Clubs each year as a means to learn and exchange ideas.  Here is our title list:
    • The Great Mental Models
    • Thinking in Systems
    • Transdisciplinary Systems Engineering
    • Thinking Fast & Slow
    • The Unicorn Project
    • Systems Engineering of Software-Enabled Systems


    • Current member engagement: ~26 active overall
    • INCOSE events:
      • IS 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
      • IW: 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023


    • Systems Engineering Vision Award, 2021
    • Best Paper, INCOSE International Symposium 2021

    Derivative Works

    •  Right to Left and Outside-In:Systems Engineer’s Role in Software-Dominant Organizations of the 21st Century. Ken Nidiffer, NDIA Systems and Mission Engineering Conf, 2021


    Planned Work Products

      In analysis, with specific work product format to be determined

      • Role Clarification across Systems, Software, Data (in context of Product, Business, HCD)
        • role relationships via social network analysis (WiP)
        • title-neutral role functions
        • communications gap closure

      Active Endeavors | Current Initiatives

        Roles Analysis

        • Scenario based analysis of major software product change with and without Systems Engineer
        • Examining interrelationships between and processes of Business, Product, Dev & Scrum Team, and Systems roles
        • Goal: Decision Guide for adding Systems Engineering to software and digital transformation initiatives

        SEBoK Articles

        • 6 articles underway:  SysE Relevance in SW Orgs, Sys-SW Interfaces, Current Era Software Dominant Orgs, SysE and Software Service Products, SysE and DevSecOps, SWEBOK overview
        • 2 in backlog:  SysE-SW-Prod Role Relationships,  IEEE 15289 overview


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