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Q. Do you have any advice on the use of ISO/IEC 15288 (IEEE Std 15288-2008), Second Edition 2008-02-01, Systems and software engineering – System Life Cycle Processes?

Answered by Robert Halligan

1. Background

ISO/IEC 15288:2008 is a process standard of considerable significance, intended to help:

  • an organization establish an environment of desired processes.
  • a project select, structure and employ the elements of an established environment to provide products and services.
  • an acquirer and a supplier develop an agreement concerning processes and activities. Via the agreement, the processes and activities in the International Standard are selected, negotiated, agreed to and performed.

ISO/IEC 15288:2008 is also intended for use by process assessors – to serve as a process reference model for use in the performance of process assessments that may be used to support organizational process improvement.

The experience of the author is that process standards do not necessarily always achieve the objectives established for them. Years of participation in ISO/IEC and other standards development efforts in the field of systems engineering lead the author to conclude that process standards almost always represent the lowest common denominator of agreement amongst participants. Further, process standards are often developed in highly political environments replete with political agenda. As a consequence, published standards may be less than perfect.

The purpose of this paper is to provide information for consideration by any user, or potential user, of ISO/IEC 15288:2008, with a view to maximizing value that can be achieved in relation to ISO/IEC 15288:2008 practices, and minimizing any loss that could arise from use of ISO/IEC 15288:2008 practices.

2. ISO/IEC 15288:2000 Application Guidance

Application guidance is provided in tabular form, keyed to the paragraph numbers of ISO/IEC 15288:2008 against which guidance is provided.

Download 15288 Para / Application Guidance Table

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