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Basic Concepts of Product Line Practice for the DoD

February 2000 Technical Note
John K. Bergey, Matt Fisher, Brian P. Gallagher, Lawrence G. Jones, Linda M. Northrop

This 2000 report provides background information to inform other reports in an SEI-published series of reports designed to provide concise and usable information about product line acquisition practices.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



Industrial experience demonstrates clearly 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 Department of Defense (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. 

The Product Line Systems Program is publishing a series of technical notes designed to condense knowledge about product line acquisition practices into a concise and usable form for the DoD acquisition manager and practitioner.

This technical note provides background information about product lines to serve as a foundation for other technical notes in this series. Key terms, concepts, and benefits of a product line approach are given. Additionally, concepts of product line acquisition in a DoD context are discussed.