Software Product Lines
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Product Line Essential Activities
Core Asset Development
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Organizational Management
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Frequently Asked Questions

A Framework for Software Product Line Practice, Version 5.0

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Management plays a critical role in the successful fielding of a product line. Activities must be given resources and then be coordinated and supervised. Management at both the technical (or project) and organizational levels must be strongly committed to the software product line effort. That commitment manifests itself in a number of ways that feed the product line effort and keep it healthy and vital.

Organizational management identifies production constraints and ultimately determines the production strategy. Organizational management must create an organizational structure that makes sense for the enterprise and make sure that the organizational units receive the right resources (for example, well-trained personnel) in sufficient amounts. We define organizational management as the authority responsible for the ultimate success or failure of the product line effort. Organizational management determines a funding model that will ensure the evolution of the core assets and then provides the funds accordingly. Organizational management also orchestrates the technical activities in and iterations between the essential activities of core asset development and product development. Management should ensure that these operations and the communication paths of the product line effort are documented in an operational concept. At the organizational level, management mitigates those risks that threaten the success of the product line. The organization's external interfaces also need careful management. Product lines tend to engender different relationships with an organization's customers and suppliers, and these new relationships must be introduced, nurtured, and strengthened. One of the most important things that management must do is create an adoption plan that describes the desired state of the organization (that is, routinely producing products in the product line) and a strategy for achieving that state.

Technical management oversees the core asset development and product development activities by ensuring that those who build core assets and products are engaged in the required activities, follow the processes defined for the product line, and collect data sufficient to track progress. Technical management decides on the production method and provides the project management elements of the production plan.

Technical and organizational management also contribute to the core asset base by making available for reuse those management artifacts (especially schedules and budgets) used in developing products in the product line.

Finally, some individual or group should be designated to either fill the product line management role and act as a product line champion or find and empower one. That champion must be a strong, visionary leader who can keep the organization squarely pointed toward the product line goals, especially when the going gets rough in the early stages. Leadership is required for software product line success. Management and leadership are not always synonymous.

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