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

Product Line Quick Look

The Product Line Quick Look (PLQL) is a method for gathering initial information relative to an organization's readiness to adopt or ability to succeed with a software product line approach. The PLQL provides a high-level framing of the organization and its product line effort. The information gathered can then be used to plan more specific assistance from the SEI or other independent activities needed to progress in product line adoption. 

The PLQL can also serve as the Preliminary Phase of the SEI's Product Line Technical Probe, which provides a comprehensive diagnosis of an organization's strengths and challenges relative to its product line effort. The PLQL is a lightweight, short intervention, and good first step for an organization wishing to "test the waters."

The PLQL includes

  • an overview of the essentials of software product lines
  • an initial gauge of where the organization is in its product line adoption
  • a set of high-level recommendations for how the SEI could provide assistance to the organization in its product line effort

The PLQL utilizes the SEI Framework for Software Product Line Practice and the Product Line Adoption Roadmap as reference models.

The PLQL consists of a one-day session where two SEI product line experts meet with the organization's product line sponsor, and the primary technical lead(s) and architect(s) for the intended software product line. The PLQL follows a structured process that has three basic steps: presentation, data gathering and discussion, and reporting.


The "Essentials of Software Product Lines," which provides a high-level overview of software product lines, is presented.

Data Gathering and Discussion

A series of questions are posed to gather high-level data such as

  • the goals for the product line effort
  • the status of the product line effort (how far along the organization is in its product line activities)
  • a description of the product area for the intended product line
  • the current organizational structure
  • any terminology particular to the organization
  • the organization's level of process discipline
  • the organization's experience and legacy assets in the area of the intended product line effort
  • any specific product line practices that are being followed
  • a list of available, relevant documentation

Other issues the organization feels appropriate are also discussed as time permits.


A PLQL Report Card is provided to the organization. This short summary provides the SEI's framing of the organization and its product line effort and a set of high-level recommendations for next steps.

Recommended Next Steps

Organizations use the PLQL to establish a connection with the SEI software product line experts and get a quick, high-level reading of their intended product line adoption or ongoing product line activities. Depending on what is learned during the PLQL, recommended next steps could include:

  • a Product Line Strategic Planning Workshop
  • a complete or partial Product Line Technical Probe and a Product Line Action Planning Workshop
  • a two-day course in software product lines
  • tailored management assistance that can support one or more of
    • product line adoption planning
    • developing a product line business case
    • developing a product line operating concept
    • developing a product line acquisition strategy
    • developing product line training plans
    • determining appropriate measurement and tracking mechanisms
  • tailored technical assistance that can support one or more of
    • scoping and commonality analysis (product line analysis)
    • architecture definition
    • architecture evaluation
    • mining existing software assets
    • migration planning
    • component development

For more information about the Product Line Quick Look or to schedule one, contact us using the link in the For more information box at the bottom of this page.

Product Lines Training and Publications