Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Systems Engineering-Based Tool for Identifying Critical Research Systems

Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Systems Engineering-Based Tool for Identifying Critical Research Systems

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Modern university research projects, even though they are still primarily leadership driven by individual Principal Investigator (PI)/Program Director (PD)-equivalent faculty members, must today utilize and rely on a series of institutional infrastructure systems for their facilities, instrumentation, travel, contracting, labor, and administrative needs to function effectively. Each of these systems has various costs associated with them (Haley, 2009; Haley 2011 ; Grieb, Horon, Wong, Durkin, & Kunkel, 2014).

This paper addresses the use of systems engineering-based management concepts to respond to and develop an advanced research systems administrative and management information approach prototype in order to allow research universities to improve the effectiveness of their research infrastructure administrative tools and policies.

The International Organization of Standards (ISO) Subcommittee on Software Engineering (SC/7) developed the current measurement standard for software measurement processes. "This International Standard identifies the activities and tasks that are necessary to successfully identify, define, select, apply and improve measurement within an overall project or organizational measurement structure" (ISO, 2007). However, while this standards title (referred to as ISO/ IEC 15939) uses the terminology of software engineering, it is explicitly meant to also refer to systems engineering (Frenz, Roedler, Gantzer, & Baxter, 2010). ISO/IEC 15939 is also defined in terms of fields of application. In the context of a university research administrative organization, one of the fields of application, "by a supplier to implement a measurement process to address specific project or organizational information requirements" can be seen as representing the necessary measurement needs of a research university administrative component organization (ISO/IEC 15939, 2007).

Ofnote, IS O/IEC 15 939 is not alibrary ofmeasurements nor does it provide any recommendation on which measures apply to an individual project or organization. It merely defines a process supporting the construction of defined and tailored measures for an organization's individual requirements.

From an organizational management perspective, ISO/IEC 15939 also details the steps necessary for an organization to ensure that their measurement processes are optimized to form a set of "requirements" to ensure the maximum utilization of these same measurement processes. Figure 1 depicts this process, including the four fundamental measurement task activities.

Institutional Background

Between 2009 and 2012, the Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) experienced an unprecedented growth rate exceeding thirty percent annually in its research funding. From ~$75M in 2009 to over ~$150M in 2012; the bredth and scope of research work done at NPS increased dramatically (NPS, 2014). Such growth was not without its problems, however. Several major new research program investments failed to achieve their intended results and goals. A root cause analysis was conducted at the project level by the Chairs and Dean of the associated schools. Additionally, several internal and external reviews were conducted of both institutional research project acceptance and research project review processes. As a consequence, the top level research management and administrative level organization at NPS, the Research and Sponsored Programs Office (RSPO), began exploring possible additional technical and management processes in order to assist in preventing such similar occurrences from occurring again.

As a result of these technical and management process actions, the RSPO has adopted a multipronged institutional approach to managing the acquisition of key information required for support, improvement, and strategic planning for critical research activities. These include: (1) the development, formation, and maintenance of an institutional work acceptance policy and joint academic, research, and leadership committee to monitor and serve as a senior decision body for research program acceptance according to the institutional strategic plan; and (2) the development, formation, and maintenance of an evolving research system, staff, and project research output measurement information construct. …

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