Software Engineering-System Engineering


Almost 500 years ago, Machiavelli said: "there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." During the past 50 years, computer-based systems have introduced a new order. Although technology has made great strides since Machiavelli spoke, his words continue to ring true.

Software engineering occurs as a consequence of a process called system engineering. Instead of concentrating solely on software, system engineering focuses on a variety of elements, analyzing, designing, and organizing those elements into a system that can be a product, a service, or a technology for the transformation of information or control.

The system engineering process is called business process engineering when the context of the engineering work focuses on a business enterprise. When a product (in this context, a product includes everything from a wireless telephone to an air traffic control system) is to be built, the process is called product engineering.

Both business process engineering and product engineering attempt to bring order to the development of computer-based systems. Although each is applied in a different application domain, both strive to put software into context. That is, both business process engineering and product engineering1 work to allocate a role for computer software and, at the same time, to establish the links that tie software to other elements of a computer-based system.
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