The defense industry has adopted task analysis as the central human factors technique in the acquisition of new systems. With a clear understanding of how equipment will be used throughout its life cycle, the monetary and human performance gains can be immense. The US Army’s Manpower and Personnel Integration program recognizes that “we can build the most lethal weapon on the planet, but if it is too complicated for the average soldier to use, we have not increased our war fighting capabilities.”

The US Army aims to ensure that the needs of soldiers and their units are considered throughout the entire system acquisition process and life cycle. Task analysis is a fundamental part of that program: it enables those people involved in design, acquisition and training provision to base their decisions on a strong understanding of a system’s end user. They need to know what that user’s goals are, the work they undertake and the factors that will impact the effectiveness and life cycle costs of the system. But few of these people see equipment actually being used in the field.

Task analysis provides designers with a detailed understanding the context of the roles and tasks that soldiers perform, and a detailed picture of how they are or will be used. Task analysis captures this information in a concrete form for formal review, analysis and use throughout defense programs. Activities such as training needs analysis, workload analysis, system and operator simulation, and the development of documentation are all more effective when based on a comprehensive task analysis.

It’s been shown to work – a review of ten major projects of the Canadian Department of Defence concluded that a properly conducted task analysis based on a realistic mission analysis makes a major contribution to the development of an effective design. The UK Ministry of Defence has mandated that task analysis should be used as part of training needs analyses, and task analysis is identified as a key step throughout the Ministry of Defence’s approach to human factors integration.

Task analysis challenges in the defense industry
There is often limited access to subject matter experts in situations where the equipment is being used in the field. Task information needs to be collected quickly and reviewed as soon as possible. TaskArchitect allows end users to:
  • reduce the cost and time required to develop a task analysis, thanks to the automation features that allow the information to be input on the fly with subject matter experts, then reviewed as diagrams or text in the same meeting.
  • conform to military task analyses by simplifying the collection of dozens of pieces of information about each task, and delivering the information required for subsequent analysis by different parts of the organization.
  • define and collect whatever information is required for the project and rapidly enter it through multiple choice, free text and drop down lists. This information is stored in a coherent database that is easily manipulated by the team to automatically highlight in color the key aspects of the analysis.
  • perform very large task analyses that require the management of thousands of tasks. While a focus on the critical tasks in the project can reduce the scope of the work, because safety and efficiency are such predominant factors in defense projects, there may still be a large number of critical tasks to be analyzed.TaskArchitect supports up to 4,000 tasks per file, with files linked to enable management of the information across teams.
  • follow established defense industry standards including the “mission, function, task” analysis. TaskArchitect enables analysts to break down tasks according to whichever task analysis method is being used.
  • run a variety of customized reports at the push of a button and without the need for sophisticated database programming. Templates for tailored reports including MTAR enable the data output to be standardized across teams and rapidly reproduced as the analysis changes.
  • easily import and export data to and from management tools such as DOORS, with tools for training needs analysis, modeling and simulation tools, and any other tools that require XML or comma or tab delimited output. This ensures raw data is easily available to other teams with their own specialized analysis tools.
A proven track record

TaskArchitect is the commercial task analysis tool relied upon by the defense industry for mission critical projects. We also offer customization so that our solution integrates seamlessly with your design process. We provide exceptional customer support as a matter of course and can be contracted to provide project specific, on-site support for both TaskArchitect and task analysis. For examples of customers using TaskArchitect for training needs analysis, modeling and simulation, hierarchical goal analysis and task analysis of large systems, please see our case studies.

US, Canadian and UK military task analysis standards

United States

Task performance analysis MIL-H-46855
Critical task analysis DI-HFAC-81399 (supersedes DI-H-7055)

Mission/task analysis report (MTAR) DI-SESS-81635
Department of Defense Directive 7730.65 - “DoD Components shall develop mission essential tasks for all assigned missions and collect near real-time data on readiness of military forces to perform their missions.”


Canadian standards are largely based on the current US standards. See the DND Project Manager’s Handbook, A-LP-005-000/AG-006 ANNEX B, CHAPTER 30 - SYSTEM ENGINEERING


The Tri-Service Guide to Training Needs Analysis JSP 502 describes the Systems Approach to Training (SAT) with staged process leading to from task analysis to a recommended training solution.

Operational Task Analysis and the process for carrying out task analysis is described in the STGP 11 HFI Technical Guide.

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