Predicting When Product Line Investment Pays
July 2003 • Technical Note
This 2003 report defines key factors to consider in taking an incremental approach to fielding a product line.
Software Engineering Institute
CMU/SEI Report Number
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):10.1184/R1/6582137.v1
A product line approach may appear very attractive, with obvious benefits in speedier time to market and higher quality, however many organizations demand financial justification before proceeding. Without knowing costs, the decision makers won't budget funds or personnel to carry out the up-front asset construction tasks. In addition, not all organizations are ready to commit up front to a full asset set, one that covers most if not all product line features. Many managers favor an incremental approach to product line adoption, one that first tackles areas of highest and most readily available commonality, earning payback early in the adoption cycle.
This report defines key factors to consider in taking an incremental approach to fielding a product line. An organization building a business case can apply these factors to show that product line investment can result in product development savings. The example presented here shows a net savings of almost $180 million in projects that would have cost about $600 million under traditional development approaches. The $180 million in savings takes into account an investment of $54 million in product line start-up costs. The example also illustrates ways to present the data needed to make a compelling business case.