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A better world through a systems approach

Welcome to the Product Line Engineering International Working Group!

What is Product Line Engineering?

In the world of business and marketing, a product line is defined as a family of related products that are offered by the same organization, are priced differently, and vary from each other in ways that are noticeable to the customer. Product lines offer the opportunity to achieve economies of scope offered by the products’ similarities. Economies of scope refers to the savings possible when the same production processes can produce multiple products more cheaply in combination than separately.  

The systems and software engineering fields have embraced these concepts, creating the discipline of Product Line Engineering. In this world, a product line refers to a family of similar systems that vary from each other in features and functions. Product Line Engineering is the approach used to engineer a portfolio of related products in an efficient manner, taking advantage of the products’ similarities while managing their differences. This includes all the activities involved in planning, producing, delivering, deploying, sustaining, and even retiring products.  

A basic tenet of product line engineering is that it is extremely beneficial to consider the product line as the thing being produced, rather than the individual products. By exploiting product commonality while managing variation, engineering organizations can achieve improvements in effort, time, and quality. This enables a unified, automated approach across the entire life cycle – including engineering and operations disciplines; software, electrical, and mechanical domains; and tool ecosystems.

As PLE grew and matured, a specialized and highly efficient form emerged called Feature-based Product Line Engineering. Feature-based PLE relies on a managed set of features to describe the distinguishing characteristics that set the products in the product line apart from each other. A specialized software tool called a configurator applies the features that describe a particular product to the product line’s engineering artifacts (requirements, designs, tests, documentation, models, and so forth) and produces the artifacts specific to that product. Maintaining the shared assets for the product line, as opposed to each individual product, results in massive savings, as evidenced by numerous real-world case studies of applying the approach in some of the world’s most challenging domains and industries.

Adopting this approach offers strategic business advantages such as informed and deliberate cost-benefit decisions, higher quality, better margins, higher sales and accelerated innovation. The strategic engineering benefits can include higher productivity, higher quality, faster time to market and greater scalability.

ISO 26580 is the world-wide industry standard providing clear, industry-validated implementation guidance and patterns for Feature-based Product Line Engineering. This standard, written in collaboration with INCOSE, enables organizations to confidently adopt Feature-based Product Line Engineering.

Tell me more!

Managing Variation: An Industrial Perspective on Product Line Engineering - In this video, Dr. Paul Clements introduces Product Line Engineering (PLE), various techniques that have been used for PLE, and how PLE concepts are being applied in industry today.

Feature-based Systems and Software Product Line Engineering: A Primer - This (free) booklet was developed by this working group as an introductory companion to the ISO 26580 standard on Feature-based Product Line Engineering.  It serves as a fantastic introduction to Feature-based PLE for Systems and it's impact on engineering assets, economic impacts, and organizational changes.

ISO 26580: Feature-Based Product Line Engineering - Methods and tools for the feature-based approach to software and systems product line engineering.

Mission & Objectives

Mission

  • Promote PLE (Product Line Engineering) and related SE (Systems Engineering) best practices
  • Coordinate activities around PLE at INCOSE level and share results

Objectives

  • Help our members acquire Know‐How:
    • Compare to the State‐of‐Art
    • Share concerns, experiences, good practices, and traps to avoid
  • Provide guidelines to set up and evolve PLE in organizations

Scope

  • All types of Systems, Markets, & Organizations
  • All the SE Processes (needs, requirements, architecture, integration and tests, …)
  • All maturity levels of PLE, from opportunistic to completely Integrated and anticipated strategies

Our group charter is available online here.

Leadership

Co-chairs Rowland Darbin (General Dynamics)
Drew Stovall (BigLever)
Hugo-Guillermo CHALÉ GÓNGORA (Thales)
Work products Drew Stovall (BigLever)
Outreach Paul Clements (BigLever)
ISO committee
representative
Charlie Krueger (BigLever)
INCOSE Liaisons

Architecture

 Jean-Luc Garnier (THALES)
 Agile Systems & SE   H.G. Chalé (THALES)
Raul Mazo (UP1-Sorbonne)
 Automotive  Bill Bolander (Method Park)
 Configuration Management  Drew Stovall (BigLever)
 Critical Infrastructure  H.G. Chalé (THALES)
Raul Mazo (UP1-Sorbonne)
 MBSE Matthew Hause (SSI)
Arnaud Durantin (Dassault Systèmes)
 MBSE Patterns Charles Krueger (BigLever)
H.G. Chalé G (THALES)
 Measurement Rowland Darbin (General Dynamics)
 Requirements Tracy Scott-Parry (Northrop Grumman)
Arnaud Durantin (Dassault Systèmes)
 Systems of Systems Beth Wilson (Retired)
Judd Cheatwood (General Dynamics)
 System Security Engineering Beth Wilson (Retired)
 Transportation Matthew Hause (SSI)
Events open               
IT & Services H.G. Chalé G (THALES) acting


Working Group Products

Current Activities / Work Product Leaders

Current Projects

Work Product Lead
Wikipedia Updates Danilo Beuche (pure-systems)
INCOSE SEBoK Updates Drew Stovall (BigLever)
Primer Updates Drew Stovall (BigLever)
SE Handbook Updates Charlie Krueger (BigLever)

Recent Projects

Work Product Lead
ISO 26580 Standard - Methods and Tools for the Feature-Based Approach to Systems and Software Product Line Engineering Charlie Krueger (BigLever)
INSIGHT Magazine March 2021 Issue: "Product Line Engineering" Drew Stovall (BigLever)
INSIGHT Magazine June/July 2020 Issue: "System Security in Product Line Engineering" Beth Wilson 
INCOSE Feature-Based Product Line Engineering Primer Paul Clements (BigLever)
INSIGHT Magazine June 2019 Issue : "Product Line Engineering"
Drew Stovall (BigLever)

Planned Working Sessions at the Next Events

INCOSE International Symposium 2021

  • Dates: July 17-22, 2020
  • Location: Virtual Event

INCOSE International Workshop 2022

  • Dates: January 29 - February 1, 2022
  • Location: Hybrid Event - Virtual & In-Person at Torrance, CA, USA

Planned Presentations at the Next Events

INCOSE IS 2021

Full Event Schedule

Model-Based Systems Product Line Engineering of Physical Protection Systems
Monday, July 19, 10:00-10:40 EDT – Session: 1.2.1

A value-driven, integrated approach to Model-Based Product Line Engineering
Monday, July 19, 12:30 – 13:10 EDT – Session: 2.2.1

Formulas and Guidelines for Deriving Functional System Requirements from a Systems Engineering Model
Monday, July 19, 13:15-13:55 EDT Session: 2.2.2

Implementation of tailored requirements engineering and management principles in a supplier to the oil and gas industry
Tuesday, July 20, 13:55-13:5 EDT Session: 5.3.2

Product Line Engineering in the New Digital Age: A View into BigLever Momentum 2021
Wednesday, July 21, 7:00-7:45 EDT Sponsor Discussion 

Innovative Approaches to Superset Asset Templates using Feature-Based Product Line Engineering
Wednesday, July 21, 10:00-10:40 EDT Session: 7.4.1

Ushering in a New Era for Feature-based Product Line Engineering with the ISO/IEC 26580 International Standard
Wednesday, July 21, 10:45-11:25 EDT Session: 7.4.2

Feature-based Product Line Engineering: An Essential Ingredient in Agile Acquisition
Wednesday, July 21, 15:10-15:50 EDT Session: 9.3.1

How Missile Engineering is Taking Product Line Engineering to the Extreme at Raytheon
Wednesday, July 21, 15:55-16:35 EDT Session: 9.3.2

Why Engineers Should Think More Like Marketers (Sometimes)
Wednesday, July 21, 8:30-9:10 EDT Session 10.4.1

Product portfolio mapping used to structure a mature sub-system with large variation - A case study
Wednesday, July 21, 10:30-11:10 EDT Session: 11.4.1


PLE Conferences and Events

Conferences focused on product families and variability subjects

VaMoS : International Working Conference on Variability Modeling of Software-Intensive Systems

  • Dates: February 23 - 25, 2022
  • Location: Florence, Italy

WCX World Congress Experience Digital Summit

  • Dates: April 5-7, 2022 
  • Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA

BigLever Momentum 2022 Virtual Symposium

  • Dates: TBD 
  • Location: TBD

Smart Variant.Con

  • Dates: June 30 - July 1, 2022
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
IEEE/NDIA/INCOSE Systems Security Symposium
  • Dates: TBD
  • Location: TBD

MCPC2021 : World Mass Customization & Personalization Conference

  • Dates: November 1-2, 2021
  • Location: Aalborg, Denmark

CONFWS : Workshop on Configuration

  • Dates: September 16-17, 2021
  • Location: Vienna

SPLC 2021 : 25th ACM International Systems and Software Product Line Conference

  • Dates: September 6-11, 2021
  • Location: Leicester, United Kingdom
NDIA Systems and Mission Engineering Conference
  • Dates: October 4-10, 2021
  • Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
I/ITSEC 2020: The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference
  • Dates: 29 November - 3 December, 2021
  • Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

How To Participate

Our PLE group is growing fast. We invite you to join us!

Membership in the PLE IWG is open to any INCOSE member. To join the group:
  • Log into your INCOSE account
  • Go to your Profile Page, and scroll to the bottom left section titled "My Committees and Working Groups"
  • Click the link for "Browse / Join a Working Group"
  • Find the Product Lines group and click on View to see roster; the Join option is at the bottom of the page

Shared working documents, meeting minutes and presentation material are available in our CONNECT page.
Visit us at https://connect.incose.org/WorkingGroups/ProductLines/Pages/Home.aspx