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Authors: Anthony E. Pusateri, Ph.D., Victor W. Macdonald, Ph.D., Michael B. Given, Ph.D., Scott F. Walter, P.E., W. Keith Prusaczyk, Ph.D.
One of the most difficult transitions in a product’s life cycle is the transition from the science and technology (S&T) environment to advanced development (AD). Transition planning is necessary to bridge this technology “Valley of Death” in which promising technologies frequently are delayed or fail to make the transition. Without successful transitions, intellectual and financial investments in research do not translate to improved capabilities for the U.S. military. Early and thorough transition planning is key to success.
This article advocates the use of simple technology readiness metrics that focus on system-wide technological maturity. Current DoD practice is to set guidelines for the maturity of individual system components, but the statistical evidence provided in this article demonstrates that more holistic metrics should be adopted. A simple system technology readiness metric is proposed and evaluated based on historical cost and schedule performance, and is shown to be potentially quite useful in avoiding poor acquisition outcomes. Finally, the policy implications of implementing a decision rule based on the metric are explored in depth, and the DoD is advised to pursue and encourage applied research for the development of more comprehensive technology readiness metrics.