Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Mark G. Reith, PhD


The Department of Defense’s (DoD) software factories are a collection of modern software acquisition programs that commonly employ the agile, network-based business strategies often found within commercial industries. Having been formally recognized by senior leaders for their revolutionary software development approaches, the software factories highlight a cultural shift within the DoD away from traditional organizational practices. As a result of the factories demonstrated successes, the number of programs employing non-traditional strategies is expanding. While this is notable, it also presents a challenge because a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics, structures, and behaviors of the DoD’s software factories does not currently exist. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by employing a sequential mixed methods methodology to explore the organizational characteristics and structures of the DoD’s software factories using a three-phased research approach designed to facilitate active community engagement and feedback. Primary research data was collected from the software factory community through personnel interviews, participant observation, and a case study. Results from this research include a software factory characterization framework, a structural definition of software factories, and a new programmatic assessment process designed to help acquisition practitioners understand the organizational behaviors of non-traditional programs.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release: 88ABW-2023-0229