Many organizations have experienced serious difficulties in developing complex computer-based systems, especially their software components. The problems include large cost overruns, schedule slippages, inadequate performance, and inability to use the system as originally envisioned. One major reason for such lack of success has been the inability of the management of the organization or the development effort to understand the need for a total-system management approach. In particular, acquisition of software and hardware separately with the hope of integrating them later does not work in complex systems. This paper outlines a management approach to acquiring computer systems which encompasses the whole system, with emphasis on the software, from the initial concept formulation to the support of the operational system. Expected improvements in the development process and organizational implications of this management approach are discussed. 7 pp. Ref.