Product Line Engineering Working Group

Promoting Pragmatic Product Line Engineering.

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Working Group Purpose & Mission


To promote Product Line Engineering and related Systems Engineering best practices and to coordinate activities and results relating to Product Line Engineering at INCOSE.


Analytic Enablers

TechOps Domain






Randy Pitz


Marco Forlingieri


Virtually all systems engineering is performed in the context of a product line. Hardly anyone builds just one edition, just one flavor, of anything. Product lines are found in every industry, including aerospace, defense, automotive, medical, consumer electronics, computer systems, energy, telecommunications, semiconductor fabrication, software applications, e-commerce, and industrial automation. Product lines occur under every business model, including retail, government contracting, OEM, business-to-business, value-added reselling, and custom development.

As businesses everywhere strive to achieve competitive advantage and greater profitability, the need to elevate systems engineering to system family engineering is universal.


Help our members, their organizations, and the community at large to

  • Understand and apply pragmatic product line engineering
  • Share experiences, best practices, and the traps to avoid


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 worldwide 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

IW23: International Workshop Focus

We are eagerly looking forward to our hybrid International Workshop.  We will do everything we can to make this a great collaborative event, including those attending in person and those joining virtually. Bring your ideas and your troubles and let’s work together to increase PLE success and awareness.

  • PLE Open Meeting - Sunday @ 15:00
  • PLE WG Social Event - Monday @ 18:00
  • PLE Member Meeting - Tuesday @ 08:00

Be sure to check the official agenda when you arrive for times and meeting locations.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Planned Activities

  • The WG is looking for inputs on the creation of a PLE competency/recognition framework
  • Creation of PLE-specific vision companion to the INCOSE Vision 2035
  • Collaboration for Paperless Presentations for IS 2023
  • Collecting ideas for follow-on standards to ISO 26580

Planned Work Products

Planned Work Products are TBD


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