Home > technical > The Odds May Not Be Ever In Your Favor

The Odds May Not Be Ever In Your Favor


The sketch below models a BD00 concocted reference cost curve for a single, one-off, software-intensive product. Note that since the vast majority of the accumulated cost (up to 3/4 of it according to some experts) of a long-lived product is incurred during the sustainment epoch of a product’s lifetime, the graph is not drawn to scale.

If you’re in the business of providing quasi-similar, long-lived, software-intensive products in a niche domain, one strategy for keeping sustainment costs low is to institutionalize a Software Product Line Approach (SPLA) to product development.

A software Product Line is a set of software-intensive systems that share a common, managed set of features satisfying the specific needs of a particular market segment or mission and that are developed from a common set of core assets in a prescribed way. – Software Engineering Institute

As the diagram below shows, the idea behind the SPLA is to minimize the Total Lifetime Cost by incurring higher short-term costs in order to incur lower long-term costs. Once the Product Line infrastructure is developed and  placed into operation, instantiating individual members of the family is much less costly and time consuming than developing a one-off implementation for each new application and/or customer.

Some companies think themselves into a false sense of efficiency by fancying that they’re employing an SPLA when they’re actually repeatedly reinventing the wheel via one-off, copy-and-paste engineering.

You can’t copy and paste your way to success – Unknown

If your engineers aren’t trained in SPLA engineering and you’re not using the the terminology of SPLA (domain scoping, core assets, common functionality, variability points, etc) in your daily conversations, then the odds may not be ever in your favor for reaping the benefits of an SPLA.

  1. Scott Berkun
    September 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for mentioning me – can you tell me where that quote is from? While it’s possible I said or wrote it, I don’t recall where.

    • September 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      Oh man, you had to ask that. :) I thought you recently tweeted it, but after browsing through a bunch of your tweets, I’m not sure now. Maybe a recent blog post? If you want me to remove it, no problem. Even if we do find out where you did say it, it’s used in a different context here – because I think you meant it (if you did say it) about writing. I’ll remove it either way if you wish.

    • September 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      I just checked, and it’s also on my “Favorite Qs/Miscellaneous” quotes page. I’ll take it off there if you’d like too. I do know that i added it recently, just not recently enough to remember from exactly where.

      BTW, when are you gonna write a book about your second entry back into the workforce?

      • Scott Berkun
        September 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        Well, I can’t verify that I said it, but I can’t verify that I didn’t either. I could find anyone else quoted saying it in a few searches, so perhaps it’s best to leave it anonymous, or put as asterisk on it.

        As far as my next book, I’ve been blogging about it here:

        http://wp.me/p4vkk-2Bi

  2. September 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    OK, it’s “legit” now. Too bad that can’t be said about all my other posts.

  1. September 18, 2012 at 5:50 am

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