search menu icon-carat-right cmu-wordmark

Software Supply Chain Risk Management: From Products to Systems of Systems

December 2010 Technical Note
Robert J. Ellison, Christopher J. Alberts, Rita C. Creel, Audrey J. Dorofee, Carol Woody

In this report, the authors consider current practices in software supply chain analysis and suggest some foundational practices.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


DOI (Digital Object Identifier):


Supply chains are usually thought of as manufacturing and delivering physical items, but there are also supply chains associated with the development and operation of a software system. Software supply chain research does not have decades of evidence to draw on, as with physical-item supply chains. Taking a systems perspective on software supply chain risks, this report considers current practices in software supply chain analysis and suggests some foundational practices. The product and supplier selection criteria for system development depend on how a product is used in a system. While many of the criteria for the selection of product suppliers and system development contractors are the same, there is also a significant difference between these kinds of acquisitions. Product development is completed in advance of an acquirer’s product and supplier assessment. There is no guarantee that current supplier development practices were used for a specific product. For custom system acquisitions, acquirers can and should actively monitor both contractor and product supply chain risks during development. This report suggests contractor and acquirer activities that support the management of supply chain risks.