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Software Process Improvement and Product Line Practice: CMMI and the Framework for Software Product Line Practice

July 2002 Technical Note
Lawrence G. Jones, Albert Soule

This 2002 report explores the relationship between software product line practice, as defined by the Framework for Software Product Line Practice, and software engineering process discipline, as defined by the CMMI models.


Software Engineering Institute

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Please note that current and future CMMI research, training, and information has been transitioned to the CMMI Institute, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University.


Many organizations report dramatic benefits from the adoption of software product line practice. Organizations that have established software engineering process discipline are better poised to succeed with product lines. While we acknowledge that there are different paths to successful process discipline, in this technical note, we concentrate on approaches based on the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) models. We describe practices that are most crucial to product line success. While some of these relate directly to the CMMI models process areas, others are uniquely important to product lines. 

In this technical note, we first present fundamental concepts of software product lines. We then describe important product line practices as they have been documented in A Framework for Software Product Line Practice (framework). We next present an overview of the CMMI models, followed by a description of the general relationships between the framework and CMMI models. We amplify this comparison with a detailed example showing the relationship between configuration management practices in CMMI and in the framework. We conclude by describing the ways in which organizations can build upon their process improvement efforts to achieve success with product lines and realize additional benefits through the use of both technologies.