Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Pilot Project: COTS Management Plan

There is a need within the acquisition community for guidance in long-term COTS management planning, particularly for software COTS products. Several programs have identified the need to manage their system's COTS components in a more methodical way. As the mix of COTS components in systems increases, the demand for a planned way to manage them will continue to grow.

The Acquisition Support Program (ASP) is sponsoring a pilot of a COTS Management Plan template. A COTS Management Plan is used to enhance COTS maintenance during the maintenance life cycle or during a long development phase when COTS is maintained during the development effort. COTS products and their market place are one of the four primary influences in system development and maintenance. Not planning and controlling the COTS content in the system throughout the system life cycle could render the system inoperable.

The COTS Management Plan template will be iteratively developed, piloted and modified based on pilot results with one or more programs. It will address aspects of COTS management planning and control, and technology change management strategies including

  • monitoring COTS product life-cycles,
  • COTS selection, implementation and replacement scenarios,
  • organizational responsibilities, accountability and authority,
  • configuration management,
  • risk management and
  • identification of artifacts to support COTS management.


  • Iteratively develop and pilot a COTS Management Plan template.
  • Cooperatively develop a comprehensive COTS Management Plan for one or more programs.

Desired Results

  • A COTS Management Plan template that can be used on other acquisition programs to enhance COTS maintenance for the life of the program.
  • A technical report describing the lessons learned from:
    • a COTS upgrade release on the U.S. Air Force Global Positioning System
    • the development and use of the COTS Management Plan template

Background Materials

Building Systems from Commercial Components, K. Wallnau, R. Seacord, and S. Hissam, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 2002.