Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP)

A Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that addresses a contractor’s overall systems engineering management approach. It provides unique insight into applying a contractor’s standards, capability models, configuration management, and toolsets to their organization. This differs from a Systems Engineering Plan (SEP), which should address System Engineering (SE) aspects of a particular program or project.  The SEMP is usually written in response to a government SEP and shall describe a contractor’s proposed efforts for planning, controlling, and conducting a fully integrated engineering effort. The SEMP is the rule book that describes to all project personnel and stakeholder how a project will be technically managed.

Definition: The Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) is a organizational document that details the technical and management processes that will be used and applied by program and engineering personnel on how system engineering activities will be organized and managed on projects.

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) Purpose

The purpose of the SEMP is to provide detailed technical and management processes for engineering staff to follow to ensure sound systems engineering practices are followed and accomplished. Its goal is to explain in detail how these engineering tasks will be done. The SEMP provides the foundation for all systems engineering activities in an organization.

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) Overarching Content

The SEMP provides the technical content that program personnel needs on how an organization expects them to execute their project. The SEMP should include:

  • Description of the technical effort and technical processes on what will be used, and how the processes will be applied using appropriate activities.
  • Project structure to accomplish activities, information flow, and decision-making.
  • Resources required for accomplishing the activities.
  • Project critical event objectives during any phase of a project’s life cycle.
  • Work product outputs of the processes and how the processes are integrated.
  • Communication standards between project management engineering teams.
  • Entry and exit criteria of work products during project phases.

Data Item Description: System Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) (PDF)

Data Item Description: System Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) (MS WORD)

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) Development [2]

The SEMP should be developed before an organization undertakes any projects. The development of the programmatic and technical management approaches requires that the key project personnel understand the work to be performed and the relationships among the various parts of that work. A SEMP’s development requires contributions from leadership, program management, engineering personnel, technical experts, cost estimators, schedulers, and many other areas that impact a project outcome.

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) includes: [1]

  • Cover/title page
  • Document history
  • Table of contents
  • An introduction that includes the document’s purpose suggested audience, and list of key terms.
  • An executive summary of the document’s content
  • An overview of the proposed SE approach. See below

A Contractors SEMP should address the following: [1]

The contractor should have its SEMP developed during the proposal process prior to any cost estimating efforts. The SEMP is used in the preparation of any cost estimate and should describe the technical content as follows:

  1. Organization of the development team, along with their physical location and facilities needs
  2. Technical environments for a project and how they will be managed. It should also discuss the interaction with the pre-production and production environments.
  3. Description of the evaluation and decision-making process to be used when resolving technical questions
  4. System Engineering Methodology:
    • Configuration Management: Include a description of how project configuration items (e.g. source code) will be managed.
    • Requirements Verification and Validation: Include a description of how the Use Cases will be clarified and expanded, requirements validated, and updated requirements reviewed and approved by the project office.
    • The Architecture and Design Process (both logical and physical design), including how issues will be discussed and resolved.
    • The software development methodology to be used reflects the requirements (for iterative builds and incremental releases).
    • The hardware development and configuration methodology to be used reflects the requirements (for iterative builds and incremental releases).
    • The build management process is used to create and manage builds.
    • The testing process to be used encompasses the requirements.
  5. Description of how external interfaces will be developed and managed.
  6. Description of how data conversion development will be performed and managed.
  7. Implementation Planning to include a description of how you will manage the deployment of system functionality, the training required for both end-users and technical staff, the coordination/communication needed to prepare the target environments.
  8. Production Support strategy
  9. A description of how production support will be done concurrently with development, given the incremental release requirements for the project.

Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) Outline

NASA Systems Engineering Handbook Appendix J SEMP Outline [2]

  1. Purpose and Scope
  2. Applicable Documents
  3. Technical Summary
  4. Technical Effort Integration
  5. Common Technical Processes Implementation
  6. Technology Insertion
  7. Additional SE Functions and Activities
  8. Integration with the Project Plan and Technical Resource Allocation
  9. Compliance Matrices

Key Takeaways for Developing a Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP)

A Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) is a document that describes the systems engineering processes and activities that will be used to build and maintain a system over its entire lifecycle. It is an important tool for both systems engineers and program managers because it helps ensure the system is built logically and consistently and that all stakeholders are kept up to date on progress and any problems that come up. Some important things for a systems engineer and program manager to remember when creating a SEMP could be:

  • Define the system’s goals and scope: It’s important to define it because that will help ensure the SEMP is focused and clearly relevant.
  • Find out who the stakeholders are: It’s important to find out who the stakeholders are in the system development process to consider their needs and concerns.
  • Set up a systems engineering process: A well-defined systems engineering process is needed to ensure that the system is built in a way that makes sense and is consistent.
  • Describe the systems engineering team’s roles and responsibilities: It is important to define the roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows what to do.
  • Set up a communication plan: A good communication plan is important to ensure that everyone is kept up to date on progress and any problems that come up.
  • Describe the risk management process: One important part of systems engineering is finding and taking care of risks. Defining a process for finding, analyzing, and reducing risks are important.
  • Set up an integration and testing plan for the system: You need a well-defined integration and testing plan to ensure that the system is built logically and consistently and that all parts work well together.

AcqNotes Tutorial


  • Many contractors will call their SEMP a Systems Engineering Plan. The names are used interchangeably so check beforehand.
  • Software planning in the Systems Engineering Plan
  • This Data Item Description (DID) for the industry-developed Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) was released in October 2009; it replaces DI-MGMT-81024 SEMP
  • Many contractors will call their SEMP a Systems Engineering Plan. The names are often used interchangeably so check beforehand.

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Updated: 1/4/2023

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