A case study on variability management in software product lines: identifying why real-life projects fail
Keywords:software product lines, variability management, harmonization & variabilization, requirements engineering, case study
Economies of scale can be seen as some kind of “holy grail” in state of the art literature on the development of sets of related software systems. Software product line methods are often mentioned in this context, due to the variability management aspects they propose, in order to deal with sets of related software systems. They realize the sought-after reusability. Both variability management and software product lines already have a strong presence in theoretical research, but in real-life software product line projects trying to obtain economies of scale still tend to fall short of target. The objective of this paper is to study this gap between theory and reality through a case study in order to see why such gap exists, and to find a way to bridge this gap. Through analysis of the causes of failure identified by the stakeholders in the case study, the underlying problem, which is found to be located in the requirements engineering phase, is crystallized. The identification of a framework describing the problems will provide practitioners with a better focus for future endeavors in the field of software product lines, so that economies of scale can be achieved.