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Product Support Strategy (PSS)

ALCL 187


The overarching approach to meet sustainment requirements.

General Information


The Product Support Strategy (PSS) is a program’s overarching approach to meet sustainment requirements. Product support planning and PSS development begins prior to program initiation, and the resultant method of executing product support (i.e., the product support solution) is re-evaluated and updated throughout the program’s life cycle. (DoDI 5000.91, paragraphs 4.2 and 4.3). The PSS is closely related to, but not synonymous with, a program’s Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP). The LCSP is the primary program management reference governing operations and support planning and execution from program to disposal and establishes the system’s product support planning and sustainment. The PSS is embodied within the LCSP.

The Program Manager (PM), with the support of the Product Support Manager (PSM), will develop and implement an effective performance-based life cycle PSS (synonymous with Performance Based Logistics (PBL)) that will deliver an integrated and affordable product support solution designed to optimize system readiness for the warfighter. (DoDI 5000.91, paragraph 4.7)



The PSM, or senior logistician if a PSM is not assigned, will document the initial PSS within the Acquisition Strategy at program inception. (Note: while “program inception” is not formally defined, it is generally understood to be prior to “program initiation,” which officially occurs at Milestone B for programs following the Major Capability Acquisition (MCA) pathway).  In accordance with DoDI 5000.91, at Milestone A, or equivalent decision event for covered systems, the PSS will be documented in the LCSP. (Note: 10 USC 4324(b) requires an LCSP at Milestone B, so DoD policy requires an LCSP even earlier in the life cycle as a means to ensure product support is considered early, before life cycle costs are “locked in”).   DoD provides policy and guidance for LCSPs in DoDI 5000.91 and the DoD LCSP Outline V3.0, respectively. For non-covered systems, use of a tailored LCSP may be authorized or directed by the Component LCSP signature authority. 


Development of the PSS

The DoD PSM Guidebook includes a 12-step PSS Process Model, which is further expanded in a PSS Development Tool.  The 12 steps, which are meant to be used flexibly, tailored, and executed iteratively are:

  • Integrate Warfighter Requirements and Support
  • Form the Product Support Management Integrated Product Team (IPT)
  • Baseline the System
  • Identify/Refine Performance Outcomes
  • Business Case Analysis
  • Product Support Value Analysis
  • Determine Support Method(s)
  • Designate Product Support Integrator(s)
  • Identify Product Support Provider(s)
  • Identify/Refine Financial Enablers
  • Establish/Refine Product Support Arrangements
  • Implement & Assess


PSS Considerations

Developing a PSS involves critical thinking about many factors, including Warfighter requirements, affordability, Contested Logistics, and others. Another factor is the AAF pathway(s) being utilized to develop and produce the system (or modification). If using the traditional Major Capability Acquisition (MCA) pathway, securing the necessary enablers, such as Intellectual Property (IP) license rights, may permit a more measured pace to determining requirements, establishing the necessary product support arrangements, and measuring performance. 

However, if utilizing a pathway focused on speed (e.g., Middle Tier of Acquisition), the pace of developing and executing the PSS can be greatly accelerated. In addition, programs may use innovative and expeditious contracting methods such as Other Transactions Agreements (OTAs). OTAs provide significant flexibility regarding competition and contract terms, including IP license rights, and may include contributions of “non-traditional DoD contractors” to expedite delivery of prototype and production articles. 

If the long-term sustainment strategy includes organic depot maintenance, supply chain management, or sustaining engineering, the Product Support Manager (PSM) must exert significant influence over early contracts/OTAs to ensure the necessary IP license rights are secured when competition provides the necessary leverage and best pricing. In non-competitive environments, the PSM must analyze and communicate the potential operating and support cost impacts and limitations on PSS flexibility that may result. Ultimately, the combat developer and program office must evaluate the tradeoffs of rapid capability delivery with affordable and flexible long-term sustainment.


PSS Updates Throughout the Life Cycle

Just as the LCSP is a “living document,” the PSS embodied within is designed to facilitate enduring and affordable sustainment consistent with warfighter requirements. Support metrics will be established, tracked, and adjusted where needed to ensure product support objectives are achieved and sustained over the system life cycle. PSSs include the best use of public and private sector capabilities through government and industry partnering initiatives, in accordance with statutory requirements. (DoDD 5000.01, para 1.2l)

DoDI 5000.91 requires the LCSP to be updated at each milestone and the Full Rate Production decision, prior to each change in the PSS, following approval or revalidation of the Product Support Business Case Analysis and before Sustainment Reviews, or every five years.  LCSP updates are also recommended for major upgrades and modifications.  Refer to the DoD LCSP Outline V3.0 Overview and Rapid Deployment Training (RLOG 002) for specific applicability by program (covered or non-covered) and Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) pathway.


DoD Senior Leader Perspectives:

View a 5-minute video and read a Defense Acquisition Magazine article to hear senior leader perspectives on the PSS and LCSP: