PPI SyEN 60 A3


Second Generation Product Line Engineering for Systems and Software (Part 3)


Dr. Charles W. Krueger

BigLever Software CEO


Welcome to Part 3 of the newsletter series spotlighting Second Generation Systems and Software Product Line Engineering (2G PLE). The focus of this informational series is to provide insight into the latest product line engineering (PLE) approaches that have enabled companies across a diverse range of industries to more efficiently extend and evolve their product line portfolios, achieving new levels of competitiveness and profitability.

The PLE Lifecycle Framework and 3-Tiered PLE Methodology

In response to the needs of mainstream engineering organizations for a complete new generation PLE solution, BigLever Software created the PLE Lifecycle Framework and 3-Tiered PLE Methodology. This industry-standard PLE framework and pragmatic methodology provide the essential 2G PLE capabilities needed to shift from product-centric approaches to create an automated, optimally efficient means of production for systems and software product lines.

With a complete PLE solution – including software infrastructure, tools, integrations, methodology, and best practices – your organization can make a systematic and incremental transition to an operational PLE production line, as illustrated in this graphic (click image to enlarge). By focusing both your business and engineering teams on the operation of your production line, your organization can plan, develop, deploy and evolve your product line portfolio, seamlessly and efficiently, across every stage of the engineering lifecycle – from business case and analysis, to requirements, design, implementation, testing, delivery, maintenance and evolution.

The PLE Lifecycle Framework provides a set of common PLE concepts and constructs that augment your tools, assets and processes across the entire lifecycle:

  • feature model that you use to express the feature diversity (optional and varying feature choices) among the products in your product line.
  • uniform variation point mechanism that is available directly within your tools and their associated assets, to manage feature-based variations in all stages of the engineering lifecycle.
  • product configurator you use to automatically assemble and configure your assets and their variation points – based on the feature selections you make in the feature model – to produce all of the assets and products in your product line, with the push of a single button.

A key capability of the PLE Lifecycle Framework is the integration of PLE concepts into your tools, assets and processes across the systems and software development lifecycle.

The PLE Framework is compatible off-the-shelf with many of the industry standards in programming languages and compilers, integrated development environments, requirements management, change and configuration management, build systems, quality management, model driven development, word processors and documentation. This graphic illustrates how the different PLE concepts and constructs expand your collection of tools and processes – making them product line aware – in three dimensions of distinct and synchronous PLE concerns:

  • Multi-product.The feature-based variation management and automated production line necessary to engineer and deliver the multiple products in a product line are provided directly by the feature model, variation point mechanism and product configurator.
  • Multi-phase.The tools necessary to support the multiple phases of a product line engineering lifecycle are the same tools you use today, augmented by the PLE Lifecycle Framework to provide consistent variation management and PLE operations.
  • Multi-baseline.Change management and configuration management for a product line are done on multiple evolving baselines of the PLE assets rather than on a multitude of individual product baselines.

The final piece of a complete PLE solution is the 3-Tiered Methodology, a practical tiered approach that allows you to remove barriers, make a non-disruptive transition and successfully operate your PLE production line. Each tier builds upon and is enabled by the previous tier:

  • Base Tier (1) – Feature-based Variation Management and Automated ProductionTools, integrations and infrastructure for engineering product line features, product feature profiles, product line hierarchy, feature-based variation points in assets, and automated feature-based configuration of product line assets into products and deliverables.
  • Middle Tier (2) – Feature-based Asset EngineeringProcesses and organizational structures for engineering the full lifecycle of product line assets – from requirements to architecture, design, implementation and test – on multiple delivery streams in a production line.
  • Top Tier (3) – Feature-based Portfolio ManagementBusiness-wide management of a product line portfolio by the features offered and the profile of features allocated to each product.


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