Systems Engineering

Interface Management

Interface Management identifies, develops, and maintains the external and internal interfaces necessary for system operation. It supports control measures (Configuration Management) to ensure that all internal and external interface requirement changes are properly documented in accordance with the configuration management plan and communicated to all affected configuration items.

Definition: Interface management includes the activities of defining, controlling, and communicating the information needed to enable unrelated objects (including systems, services, equipment, software, and data) to co-function. Most new systems or services require external interfaces with other systems or services.

The three (3) main areas of interface management are: [2]

  1. Interfaces Identification
  2. Establishing an Interface Control Working Groups (ICWG) to manage the interfaces
  3. Development of interface control documentation

1) Interface Identification

Interfaces are the functional and/or the physical interface between two components with a system. The components can be internal or external to the system. Many of the external interfaces are identified through the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process and its accompanying documents and architectures. [1]

2) Interface Control Working Group

The Interface Control Working Group (ICWG) is a specialized technical working group composed of appropriate technical representatives from the interfacing activities and other interested participating organizations. The ICWG serves as a forum to develop and provide interface requirements, as well as to focus on interface detail definition and timely resolution of issues The ICWG requires collaboration with external program offices and contractors in a system or system of systems environment. [2]

3) Interface Control Documentation

As system interface control requirements are developed, they are documented and made available to the appropriate stakeholders. These interface control requirements are documented in an Interface Control Document and placed under configuration control. Interface Control Documentation includes Interface Control Drawings, Interface Requirements Specifications, and other documentation that depicts physical and functional interfaces of related or co-functioning systems or components. Interface Control Documentation is the product of the ICWGs or comparable integrated teams, and their purpose is to establish and maintain compatibility between interfacing systems or components. [2]

Other Interface Management Topics

Interface management also addresses the following areas: [1]

  • Defining and establishing interface specifications
  • Assessing compliance of interfaces among configuration items comprising systems or system of systems ·
  • Open Systems Interface Standards
  • Monitoring the viability and integrity of interfaces within a system

Interface Management Plan

The key to proper interface control is establishing an interface management plan to assess existing and emerging interface standards and profiles, update interfaces, and abandon obsolete architectures. An interface management plan that: [1]

  •  Documents a system’s internal and external interfaces and their requirement specifications
  • Identifies preferred and discretionary interface standards and their profiles
  • Provides justification for selection and procedure for upgrading interface standards
  • Describes the certifications and tests applicable to each interface or standard

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 7/23/2021

Rank: G30.3

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