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Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)

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Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) is a formalized methodology that uses digital models to support the entire lifecycle of complex system development. It provides a single source of truth, ensuring discipline-specific views of the system are created using the same model elements. This fosters consistency and reduces defects associated with document-based approaches. MBSE encourages a systems thinking approach, allowing systems engineers to view a system as part of a larger interconnected whole. This approach helps identify potential issues, manage complexity, and optimize system design to meet diverse stakeholder needs.

Core Components of MBSE

  1. The Model: A model simplifies a system while showing its structure and behavior. Modeling systems gives engineers clarity and manageability, making it an essential MBSE tool.
  1. Systems Thinking: MBSE views systems as part of an ecosystem. System thinking allows engineers to examine boundaries, interactions, and feedback loops, revealing hidden patterns that affect system performance.
  1. Systems Engineering: MBSE uses transdisciplinary methods to realize engineered systems. Systems engineering’s emphasis on design, implementation, integration, analysis, and management complements MBSE’s modeling.

model-based system engineering framework

Models serve as a simplified representation of a system, abstracting its complexity while highlighting its structure and behavior. Systems Thinking views a system as part of a larger ecosystem, enabling engineers to explore boundaries, interactions, and feedback loops. Systems Engineering complements MBSE’s modeling prowess by focusing on architecture, implementation, integration, analysis, and management.

Four Instruments of Modeling

Modeling is a foundational technique in MBSE, involving the formal representation of ideas, concepts, and interactions within the system. There are 4 instruments of modeling.

  1. Language
  2. Structure
  3. Argumentation
  4. Presentation

Language enhances clarity and understanding of the system’s design, while structure ensures understandability, usability, and maintainability of the representation. Argumentation facilitates persuasive argumentation, presenting logical connections between elements and relationships within the system.

MBSE covers 4 fundamental modeling domains: requirements/capabilities, behavior, architecture/structure, and verification and validation. Each domain provides a unique perspective, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of the system throughout its lifecycle. The language of system modeling, composed of 4 language elements (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), serves as the bridge between abstract ideas and tangible representations, ensuring clarity and precision in system descriptions.

Serving as a unified repository, the MBSE Model is a comprehensive and integrated view of a system’s design and behavior that captures essential information for seamless collaboration among stakeholders, systems engineers, and developers.

The model’s 4 quadrants converge to deliver a holistic and interrelated perspective, empowering systems engineers to make informed decisions and optimize system designs.

MBSE also offers a curated list of certified tools that align with the framework’s principles and methodologies, ensuring seamless implementation of enterprise architectures.

Interested in learning more about Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on MBSE planning here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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