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Developing a Product Line Acquisition Strategy for a DoD Organization: A Case Study

April 2001 Technical Note
John K. Bergey, Wolfhart B. Goethert

This 2001 report describes the approach a DoD organization used to develop alternative acquisition strategies and analyzes the pros and cons of each.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number

CMU/SEI-2001-TN-021

Abstract

Industrial experience clearly demonstrates that a product line approach for software-intensive systems can save money and result in faster time to field higher quality systems. Many within the DoD recognize the benefits of product lines, but also recognize that there are significant challenges to adopting such an approach. One of several challenges that confront a DoD organization is developing and implementing a suitable acquisition strategy. To be effective, the DoD organization must balance its product line aspirations against the ability of potential contractors (having varying levels of product line experience and "hands-on" knowledge of related legacy systems) to meet its needs. It also must balance them against the requirements of DoD policy and regulatory documents that govern the entire acquisition process.  

Several key questions are: "What does developing an acquisition strategy involve?" and "How does a DoD organization develop an effective strategy for acquiring a software product line?" This case study focuses on a recent effort that shows how one DoD organization answered these questions.  

This technical note describes the approach a DoD organization used to develop alternative acquisition strategies and analyzes the pros and cons of each. It summarizes the acquisition context. It also presents a number of alternative product line acquisition strategies, a method for comparing the merits of each approach, and some risk reduction measures. Although this case study purposely disguises the actual organization and product line, it reflects the considerations involved in developing a software product line acquisition strategy.