No Content Set
Exception:
Website.Models.ViewModels.Components.General.Banners.BannerComponentVm

Services

Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

Advisory and management consulting

Advisory and management consulting services for businesses and projects, including economics, due diligence, transaction advisory, ESG and more.

Communications, creative and digital

Communications, creative and digital solutions for governments and businesses including community engagement, design, research, data and software development.

Laboratories

Scientific analysis services for AgroScience, food safety, workplace exposure, environmental metrics and contaminants of concern in Europe and the UK.

Planning and approvals

Development strategy, planning and approval solutions for buildings, infrastructure, transport and city projects and investments.

Project and program management

Project management solutions for the most complex building, infrastructure, organisational change, and systems projects.

Training

Specialist training services, programs and accreditation for health, safety and risk, project management, and energy sector capability development.

Sectors

World-leading technical and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, resources, water, defence and government sectors.

Property

Design, technical and advisory services for the property sector, including residential, commercial, retail, industrial, health, education and data centre projects.

Energy

Energy exploration, development and optimisation solutions for renewables, power and gas networks, energy storage, oil and gas and nuclear facilties.

Transport

Smart, safe and sustainable transport infrastructure development services and advice for rail, aviation, port and road clients and projects.

Defence and government services

Expertise for defence capability and infrastructure investments, security and safety projects, and information and telecommunications initatives.

Water

Discover our industry-leading strategy, design and management solutions for wastewater, groundwater, flooding, drainage and network infrastructure.

Resources

Commercial data, design advice and technical management solutions for safe and environmentally responsible resource exploration and operations.

About us

Responsibility

Services

Technical services and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, water, resources, defence and government sectors.

explore Services
Advisory and management consulting

Advisory and management consulting services for businesses and projects, including economics, due diligence, transaction advisory, ESG and more.

Due diligence

Economics

Strategy and transformation

Commercial and technical advisory

Transaction advisory

Project investment and finance

ESG consulting

Deal advisory

Explore Advisory and management consulting
Communications, creative and digital

Communications, creative and digital solutions for governments and businesses including community engagement, design, research, data and software development.

Communications and engagement

Creative, visualisation and immersive design

Social advisory and research

Data management, analytics and insights

Spatial intelligence and GIS

Software development

Explore Communications, creative and digital
Design and development

Technical and consulting services for buildings, infrastructure and cities including architecture, engineering, surveying, landscape architecture and urban design.

Architecture

Lifts and escalators

Building services engineering

Civil engineering

Fire engineering

Geotechnical engineering

Landscape architecture

Structural engineering

Surveying

Utility options and design

Urban design

Explore Design and development
Laboratories

Scientific analysis services for AgroScience, food safety, workplace exposure, environmental metrics and contaminants of concern in Europe and the UK.

AgroScience analysis

Food safety analysis

PFAS Analysis

Environmental analysis

Analysis of unknowns

Workplace exposure analysis

Explore Laboratories
Planning and approvals

Development strategy, planning and approval solutions for buildings, infrastructure, transport and city projects and investments.

Planning consultancy

Transport planning

Explore Planning and approvals
Project and program management

Project management solutions for the most complex building, infrastructure, organisational change, and systems projects.

Program management

Project management

Cost management / quantity surveying

Building consultancy

Explore Project and program management
Training

Specialist training services, programs and accreditation for health, safety and risk, project management, and energy sector capability development.

Health, safety and risk

Training: project management

Capability development and training for the energy sector

Explore Training

Sectors

World-leading technical and consulting solutions for clients in the property, energy, transport, resources, water, defence and government sectors.

explore Sectors
Property

Design, technical and advisory services for the property sector, including residential, commercial, retail, industrial, health, education and data centre projects.

Residential

Commercial and retail

Leisure and tourism

Industrial

Health and healthcare

Education

Data centres

Explore Property
Energy

Energy exploration, development and optimisation solutions for renewables, power and gas networks, energy storage, oil and gas and nuclear facilties.

Oil and gas

Renewables

Nuclear facilities

Power and gas networks

Storage

Explore Energy
Transport

Smart, safe and sustainable transport infrastructure development services and advice for rail, aviation, port and road clients and projects.

Rail

Aviation

Ports

Roads

Explore Transport
Defence and government services

Expertise for defence capability and infrastructure investments, security and safety projects, and information and telecommunications initatives.

Defence

Security and safety

Information and telecommunications

Explore Defence and government services
Water

Discover our industry-leading strategy, design and management solutions for wastewater, groundwater, flooding, drainage and network infrastructure.

Water management

Wastewater

Flooding and drainage

Groundwater

UK and Ireland regulated water asset management

Explore Water
Resources

Commercial data, design advice and technical management solutions for safe and environmentally responsible resource exploration and operations.

Mining

Waste

Explore Resources

Projects

We define, design and manage projects that create shared value to a complex, urbanising and resource-scarce world.

explore Projects

Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

explore Insights

When complexity calls, the systems engineer answers

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m a systems engineer. But who is a systems engineer really? 

29 November 2021 | 1 min read
Scott Richardson

Asia Pacific

Australia

Melbourne

ON THIS PAGE
Contact us

Definitions for the uninitiated

Are we engineers? Yes. Are we project managers? Absolutely. Are we necessary? More than you know. 

First thing’s first. The term ‘system’ can be a point of confusion. In the world of systems engineering, ‘system’ can mean a variety of things. It could refer to a digital information system like an enterprise-level business management application, a physical asset like the International Space Station, or even a process. A project can also be considered a system. 

What a system is matters less than what a system does (and is meant to do).

A systems engineer is the person you engage to facilitate the scoping, design, development, operation and disposal of a complex system, and guide how it’s all brought together.

We work across the entire system lifecycle, considering impacts and trade-offs from cradle to grave. We think in an holistic manner that incorporates both the technical and design management aspects of a project.

While a systems engineer will generally hold qualifications in at least one sub-discipline of engineering (electrical/electronic, software, civil, mechanical etc), our scope and value extend far beyond that of a subject matter expert.

Indeed, much of a systems engineer’s time is devoted to elevating the collective thinking of many technical experts, stakeholders and users beyond individual components, materials, processes and algorithms to the higher-order function, integration and resilience of all of these things when they operate as a unified whole.

Why is systems engineering important?

Whether we are talking about projects in general, their interfaces and interactions, or my own experience in defence projects and capabilities, systems are getting more complex by the day.

Scott Richardson, RPS Senior Systems Engineer is standing in front of the The Capital performing arts theater in Bendigo, Victoria.

Complexity can be a breeding ground for risk and vulnerability, and that’s why systems engineering is so vital. It's all about reducing risk by applying diligent practices throughout the system lifecycle, ultimately saving time, costs, and resources.

Scott Richardson

Senior Systems Engineer

A research study completed by Eric Honour from the University of South Australia revealed just how valuable systems engineering (SE) can be, exploring the quantifiable relationships between SE activity and involvement in military programs, and a program’s ultimate success. The research:

“…discovered statistically significant relationships between systems engineering (SE) activities and three success measures: cost compliance, schedule compliance, and stakeholder overall success…[with return on investment] as high as 7:1 for programs with little SE effort, and 3.5:1 for median programs.”

Honour’s research showed that the most efficient and effective projects devoted around 15 per cent of their budget to systems engineering. And when you consider that Australian Defence’s four-year forward estimate figures for capability acquisition released in May 2021 add up to $85.91 billion…you start to see why investing in systems engineering is worth it.

So, what makes a good systems engineer?

Systems engineering combines many skills, but fundamentally it’s a specific approach to thinking about the way things work, their interfaces and interactions, the environment/s they work in, and the factors influencing their success and failure.

A good SE establishes and maintains a project’s true north–that is, the true objective of the system.

They provide guidance for how a system’s design can be developed, built and maintained within the context of larger systems and objectives, the processes behind the development, and acceptance of the system.

While SE’s are definitely across the technical details, they’re able to maintain a holistic view so everything remains in balance, including design management and process considerations.

Let's use the International Space Station (ISS) as an example of how a systems engineer adds value.

A a view from space featuring a satellite looking down on earth.

The ISS is a modular system that has been developed, added to, upgraded and changed continually over the last two decades or so.

Say one of the space agencies would like to add a new module that would allow astronauts/cosmonauts to complete a new type of research experiment. The systems engineer’s role would be to understand the considerations and constraints of the existing ISS, then guide the new module through conceptualisation, iterative design, development, deployment, integration with broader space station systems, and end-use for experiments.

They are keeping in mind through all of these phases that the module will one day need to be dismantled or reused and ensuring its design accounts for that.

A good systems engineer has the ability to support different teams to consider potential issues and vulnerabilities on multiple levels, from the space shuttle operator who might transport the module from earth to the ISS, to the astronauts who will assemble the equipment and use the module while in orbit.  

They’re asking questions like: what lightweight and low volume structural components can we use to support safe transport into space via a shuttle, but are strong enough to endure the pressures of experiment, and perform well under zero gravity conditions? What issues could integration of the new module cause to broader ISS system performance (pressurisation, oxygen etc), and vice versa? How can we test these and build in failsafe mechanisms?

To look at it in a more day-to-day context, a systems engineer needs to be the ‘jack of all trades’ who can talk the talk at all levels—from senior management to the people on the workshop floor. It’s impossible for a SE to know all of the answers. The key is knowing what to ask and who to talk to, to get the desired result.

Systems engineering for the present, and the future

When it comes to projects, people will often take the easiest option. Removing systems engineering can be the perceived money-saver that ends up costing time, money and heartache. While it may look like additional cost, SE is scalable to the needs/scope of the system or project.

When you work in the defence industry, stories about the work that you do are usually talked about in very general terms, if at all. Secrecy is part of the deal. But systems engineering is important for defence (and the majority of industries involved in development). That’s why I’m so passionate about profiling systems engineering as a discipline, and mentoring and training the next generation of SEs.

The future is now when it comes to complex systems, and technology’s speed will only accelerate the need for those with the ability to think in holistic, integrated, lifecycle terms. I’m proud to be working with so many who do, and look forward to playing my role in promoting the profession and developing SEs of the future.