CEO Perspective: Dr. Charles Krueger, CEO and Founder, BigLever Software

Since the previous in-person gathering at INCOSE IS2019, important advances have been fueling the PLE fast-track trajectory, a trend I clearly observed at the recent IS2022.

Driven by BigLever and other members of the INCOSE PLE Working Group, the following advances have accelerated the awareness and adoption of PLE:

  • Recognition that complexity is a major business risk.  In a study conducted by Michelle Boucher, Tech-Clarity VP of Research for Engineering Practices, the top business challenge and driver of operational complexity in complex engineering organizations is the number of product and system configurations engineered, manufactured, deployed, and sustained.
  • A growing realization in the industry that nobody builds just one. Product lines are ubiquitous. The challenges described in Boucher’s Tech-Clarity study are broadly experienced across engineering organizations. That is, almost every engineering organization builds their products and systems as a family of similar systems. 
  • The demands of new Digital Engineering and MBSE practices. Early generation approaches to PLE that rely on tribal knowledge, as well as unsustainable and error prone techniques such as clone and own, are no longer feasible.  Feature-based PLE is a prerequisite for effective Digital Engineering.
  • The publication of ISO/IEC standard 26580 in 2021. The standard provides well-defined guidance for Feature-based PLE, enabling it as a mainstream practice with low risk adoption.
  • Feature-based PLE demonstrating the biggest engineering improvement metrics in decades. Multiplying the effectivity of existing staff through elimination and automation of low value, mundane work allows engineers to focus on high value, rewarding work. Huge improvements are realized – big enough to accelerate business objectives and mitigate engineering staff shortages and hiring challenges.

Elevating the industry’s mindset from Systems Engineering to System Family Engineering is revolutionizing the way engineering organizations work. PLE has been in practice for decades and is now recognized as a cornerstone on the path to digital engineering and digital transformation — truly a modern business and engineering revolution.