Success stories

Our success stories include:

  • systems thinking in healthcare
  • avionics development process improvement
  • technical proposal development
  • standards development and assessment
  • domain modelling

To find out more about our approaches and success in any of these areas, contact us.

Success through Systems thinking in healthcare

Holistem has facilitated during 2016-2017, with other systems engineering colleagues from INCOSE, a successful series of workshops applying systems thinking and systems engineering techniques to the healthcare domain. Healthcare in the UK faces many challenges from multiple sources: changing demographics – people living longer with multiple long term conditions; increased sophistication and potential to diagnose and treat conditions; increased pressure on budgets; a healthcare ‘organisation’ (which is much much more than just the NHS) that has evolved from the the original vision in the 1940’s to a large, diverse, set of organisations that, at times, perhaps are not well-connected or coordinated. Techniques used have included: round tables, concept models, cluster topic mapping, causal loop models, N-squared tables, architecting. A summary of the challenges, approach and outcomes to date has been presented at the INCOSE Annual Systems Engineering Conference, ASEC 2017, in Warwick, UK, 21-22 November 2017, conference details here.

A more extensive explanation of this successful engagement is available here.

Avionics development process improvement

We worked with a major defense contractor aircraft project in systematically looking at how to identify issues with their avionics development process, and come up with traceable recommendations for improvement. Over a 6 month period, this project worked from senior management brief to scope the work, through to identification of stakeholders and the target community, to development of data collection techniques, and subsequently data analysis, and recommendation development. Data collection techniques involved a combination of online survey to community (~400 engineers and engineering managers), a representative set of structured interviews, and ‘data forensics’, collection of actual process meta-data (data about data). Root cause analysis techniques, such as the “five-why’s”, were used to get beyond symptoms to root causes.  The outcomes of the project were a set of ~70 recommendations, structured into ~6 topic areas, fully traceable to the source data and briefings to both management and the engineering community. Roll-out of the recommendations is ongoing within the company.

Technical proposal development and management of low-TRL projects

We’ve extensive experience developing technical proposals and associated Statements of Work for internal, national level and international level agencies, and of technical management of such projects. We’ve focussed on primarily tackling low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) challenges.  An example Technical Proposal led to the European Framework 4 and 5 SEDRES and SEDRES-2 projects (1996-2002), which themselves produced the work that formed the basis of the ISO 10303-233 systems engineering data exchange standard. The SEDRES/ISO 10303-233 team also subsequently contributed to and worked with the team that developed the OMG Systems Modelling standard, SysML (latest version of the standard available here).

Standards development and assessment

Our experience in standards work ranges from development of systems engineering data exchange standards, to involvement in process standards, to application of modelling to existing document-represented standards. We have operated at national and international level on various standards bodies (BSI, ISO SC4). Our Director led the team that developed ISO 10303-233, the part of the STEP standard that supports Systems Engineering data exchange, and subsequently involved in influencing the evolution of the OMG SySML standard. An example of application of modelling applied to existing standards involved modelling applied to Tactical Data Links (TDLs), in particular Link-16 (Mil Std 6016C, NATO STANAG 5516), where one Holistem employee co-authored multiple patents arising from the modelling work.

Domain modelling success

We’ve extensive experience in data and information modelling, and more recently partitioning of such models along ‘domain’ (subject matter) lines, also recognised as domain modelling. A success story was the modelling for the domains underlying the development of a tool to support ship complement design, which included Royal Navy personnel organisation, ship physical and functional, and mission and manning aspects. Such models provided the basis for tool implementation.

One of the best explanations of domain modelling we are aware of is in Model Driven Architecture with Executable UML, by Chris Raistrick et al (Amazon link here); don’t be put off by the reference to UML, nor criticisms in the Amazon reviews of iUML/xUML – domain modelling is not just a ‘software thingy’!

Techniques used to drive this success

The techniques we’ve used to achieve these successes are described here.