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

Business Case Development

A business case answers key questions. Organizations must develop a business case to address those questions when planning the transition to the product line approach to fielding software systems.

  • What are the specific organizational changes that must occur to make the transition?
  • What are the benefits of making the change?
  • What are the costs and risks?
  • How do we measure success?

The business case development service supports key organizational considerations in making a go/no-go decision for pursuing a new product line opportunity or approach. As an important communications vehicle, the business case identifies goals and measures for tracking the move to the product line approach.

During a recent engagement, the SEI and a customer team developed and presented a business case to senior management of a major DoD agency. The business case showed significant savings and led to development of an organizational adoption plan for product lines.


By documenting the expected costs, benefits, and risks of pursuing the new product line opportunity or approach, the Business Case supports determination of a course of action for management decision. It also present the first set of activities that must be initiated for the product line to succeed.

Who Would Benefit

Higher-level management, change managers, software product or project managers, software product line managers


Business case development examines five areas of organizational planning to make the business case for product lines:

  1. Defining goals and what to do: developing alternative approaches; choosing one or deciding to build a comparison for the business case.
  2. Estimating the likely costs and developing potential risks
  3. Estimating the likely benefits
  4. Developing a proposal for proceeding
  5. Closing the deal: making final adjustments and proceeding to development

Through business case development, we help organizations make an economic case built on the current costs of doing business vs. a product line approach. As part of the business case analysis, the organization determines how many products are likely to be built in the product line over a certain time, who the customers will be, and whether a product line approach compares favorably with other approaches.

The development team works with the organization to make a Product Line Launch go/no go decision. The business case reflects the facts and assumptions of the Product Line opportunity in the context of the domain analysis, product line scope and market analysis. The development teams develop answers to the following questions:

  • Should we develop a product line to address a specific mission or market area?
  • Do we have the right capability and resources?
  • Can we leverage our domain understanding to provide unique opportunity and create market demand for our product line?
  • What are the costs in developing and fielding the product line?
  • What the benefits in cost compared to the current way of developing systems?


SEI staff will work with a customer management team to perform business case development. Contact us using the link in the For more information box at the bottom of this page.

Product Lines Training and Publications