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Incremental Commitment Spiral Model, The: Principles and Practices for Successful Systems and Software

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Incremental Commitment Spiral Model, The: Principles and Practices for Successful Systems and Software


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  • Students will master the Incremental Commitment Spiral Model (ICSM) and learn how to combine proven spiral approaches with the advantages of agility
  • Concise, practical, workable, and accessible ways to build systems that succeed when measured against stakeholder goals and values
  • Fully reflects today's increasingly interdependent and interrelated systems
  • Includes proven tools, templates, and process guides for implementing the model correctly


  • Copyright 2014
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/8"
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-80822-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-80822-6

“The title makes a huge promise: a way to divide commitment into increments that are both meetable (good news for developers) and meaningful (good news for managers and stakeholders). And the book makes good on that promise.”

–Tom DeMarco, Principal, The Atlantic Systems Guild, author of Peopleware, Deadline, and Slack

“I am seriously impressed with this ICSM book. Besides being conceptually sound, I was amazed by the sheer number of clear and concise characterizations of issues, relationships, and solutions. I wanted to take a yellow highlighter to it until I realized I’d be highlighting most of the book.”

–Curt Hibbs, Chief Agile Evangelist, Boeing

Use the ICSM to Generate and Evolve Your Life-Cycle Process Assets to Best Fit Your Organization’s Diverse and Changing Needs

Many systems development practitioners find traditional “one-size-fits-all” processes inadequate for the growing complexity, diversity, dynamism, and assurance needs of their products and services. The Incremental Commitment Spiral Model (ICSM) responds with a principle- and risk-based framework for defining and evolving your project and corporate process assets, avoiding pitfalls and disruption, and leveraging opportunities to increase value.

This book explains ICSM’s framework of decision criteria and principles, and shows how to apply them through relevant examples. It demonstrates ICSM’s potential for reducing rework and technical debt, improving maintainability, handling emergent requirements, and raising assurance levels.

Its coverage includes

  • What makes a system development successful
  • ICSM’s goals, principles, and usage as a process-generation framework
  • Creating and evolving processes to match your risks and opportunities
  • Integrating your current practices and adopting ICSM concepts incrementally, focusing on your greatest needs and opportunities

About the Website: Download the evolving ICSM guidelines, subprocesses, templates, tools, white papers, and academic support resources at csse.usc.edu/ICSM.


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Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

The Third Principle of the Incremental Commitment Spiral Model: Concurrent Multidiscipline Engineering


Preface to The Incremental Commitment Spiral Model: Principles and Practices for Successful Systems and Software

Sample Pages

Download the sample pages (includes the Foreword by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., Chapter 3 and Index)

Table of Contents

Foreword         xiii

Preface         xv

About the Authors         xxi

Prologue         3

Chapter 0: Introduction         7

0.1 A World of Change   7

0.2 Creating Successful 21st-Century Systems   9

0.3 ICSM Distilled   16

0.4 Using the ICSM   25

0.5 Incremental ICSM Adoption Approaches   28

0.6 Examples of ICSM Use   29

0.7 How ICSM Might Have Helped a Complex Government Acquisition (healthcare.gov)   30

References   32

Part I: The Four ICSM Principles            35

 Chapter 1: The First Principle: Stakeholder Value-Based Guidance          37

1.1 Failure Story: The Too-Good Road Surface Assessment Robot   38

1.2 Success Story: The Hospira Next-Generation Intravenous Medical Pump   42

1.3 The Fundamental System Success Theorem and Its Implications   47

1.4 The System Success Realization Theorem and Its Implications   49

References   55

Chapter 2: The Second Principle: Incremental Commitment and Accountability         57

2.1 A Failed Total-Commitment Project: Bank of America’s MasterNet   59

2.2 A Successful Incremental-Commitment Project: The TRW Software Productivity System   63

2.3 The Two Cones of Uncertainty and the ICSM Stages I and II   69

2.4 Alternative Incremental and Evolutionary Development Models   71

2.5 Development as C2ISR   75

References   78

Chapter 3: The Third Principle: Concurrent Multidiscipline Engineering         81

3.1 Failure Story: Sequential RPV Systems Engineering and Development   84

3.2 Success Story: Concurrent Competitive-Prototyping RPV Systems Development   86

3.3 Concurrent Development and Evolution Engineering   89

3.4 Concurrent Engineering of Hardware, Software, and Human Factors Aspects   92

3.5 Concurrent Requirements and Solutions Engineering   94

References   96

Chapter 4: The Fourth Principle: Evidence- and Risk-Based Decisions   97

4.1 Failure Story: The Unaffordable Requirement   99

4.2 Success Story: CCPDS-R   101

4.3 Feasibility Evidence as a First-Class Deliverable   104

4.4 How Much of Anything Is Enough?   107

4.5 Summing Up the Principles   108

References   109

Part II: ICSM Life Cycle and Stage I: Incremental Definition         113

Chapter 5: The ICSM Life Cycle          115

5.1 ICSM Life Cycle   115

5.2 Comparison of ICSM to Other Life-Cycle Models   115

5.3 Stage I: Deciding Why, What, When, Who, Where, How, and How Much   119

5.4 ICSM Case Study   120

Chapter 6: Exploration Phase          123

6.1 What Is the Exploration Phase?   123

6.2 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Exploration?   126

6.3 Potential Major Risks to Watch for at the End of Exploration   127

6.4 How Exploration Scales from Small to Large, Complex Systems   128

6.5 Role of Principles in Exploration Activities   128

6.6 Exploration for the MedFRS Initiative   129

Chapter 7: Valuation Phase         133

7.1 What Is the Valuation Phase?   133

7.2 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Valuation?   135

7.3 Major Risks to Watch for at End of Valuation   136

7.4 How Valuation Scales from Small to Large, Complex Systems   137

7.5 Role of Principles in Valuation Activities   138

7.6 Valuation for the MedFRS Initiative   139

Chapter 8: Foundations Phase         143

8.1 What Is the Foundations Phase?   143

8.2 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Foundations?   146

8.3 Major Risks to Watch for at the End of Foundations   146

8.4 How Foundations Effort Scales from Small to Large, Complex Systems   147

8.5 Role of Principles in Foundations Activities   149

8.6 Foundations for the MedFRS System of Systems   150

8.7 Stage I Summary   152

Reference   152

Part III: Stage II: Incremental Development and Evolution           155

Chapter 9: Development Phase         157

9.1 What Is the Development Phase?   157

9.2 Ready to Release?   169

9.3 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Development?   171

9.4 Major Risks to Watch for during Development   171

9.5 How Development Scales from Small to Large, Complex Systems   172

9.6 Role of Principles in Development Activities   174

9.7 MedFRS Development   174

Reference   178

Chapter 10: System Production and Operations   179

10.1 What Is “Production”?   179

10.2 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Production?   180

10.3 Major Risks to Watch for during Production   181

10.4 What Is the Systems Operations Phase?   181

10.5 What Are the Potential Pitfalls during Operations?   183

10.6 Major Risks to Watch for during Operations   183

10.7 Production and Operations for the MedFRS Initiative   184

10.8 Stage II Summary   185

Part IV: Applying ICSM to Your Organization          189

Chapter 11: ICSM Patterns and Common Cases         191

11.1 ICSM Patterns   192

11.2 ICSM Common Cases   194

11.3 Common Case Examples   201

11.4 Summary: The ICSM Common Cases Overview   204

References   204

Chapter 12: ICSM and Your Organization          205

12.1 Leveraging Your Current Process Investments   205

12.2 Maximizing the Value of Your Organizational Knowledge   208

12.3 Where the Impact Is   208

References   210

Chapter 13: Evidence-Based Life-Cycle Management          211

13.1 Motivation and Context   211

13.2 Commitment Review Process Overview   212

13.3 Feasibility Evidence Description Development Process   213

13.4 Evaluation Framework for the FED   217

13.5 Example of Use   218

13.6 Applicability Outside ICSM   221

References   222

Chapter 14: Cost and Schedule Evidence Development          223

14.1 A Review of Primary Methods for Cost and Schedule Estimation   225

14.2 Estimations and the ICSM   228

14.3 The Bottom Line   233

References   233

Chapter 15: Risk—Opportunity Assessment and Control         235

15.1 The Duality of Risks and Opportunities   235

15.2 Fundamentals of Risk-Opportunity Management   236

15.3 Risk Management within ICSM   244

15.4 Risk and Opportunity Management Tools   245

15.5 Using Risk to Determine How Much Evidence Is Enough   247

References   247

Afterword          249

Appendix A: Evidence Evaluation Framework   253

Appendix B: Mapping between ICSM and Other Standards   261

Appendix C: A Value-Based Theory of Systems Engineering   277

Index         299


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