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The DoD Acquisition Environment and Software Product Lines

May 1999 Technical Note
John K. Bergey, Matt Fisher, Lawrence G. Jones

This technical note examines three key DoD acquisition policies and regulations, along with their implications for launching a product line.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



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 this approach. Many of these challenges stem from the fact that the DoD is in the business of acquiring systems rather than developing them. 

A key question is how can a software product line approach best be accommodated within the current DoD acquisition environment? In order to answer this question, this technical note examines three key DoD acquisition policies and regulations and their implications for launching a product line approach. This includes examining the DoD acquisition management process and DoD guidance on acquisition strategies that set the context for software product line acquisition planning. Sources of confusing guidance on developing acquisition strategies are examined and terms are defined to clarify what is meant by a product line acquisition strategy. The need for strategic acquisition planning in launching a product line is discussed and insight is provided on how it differs from traditional acquisition planning.