2011 Trends and Outlook: Guesses and Wish List


I would like to say I could predict what was going to happen without fail and without a shred of doubt in 2011, but the only thing I can predict is that I will get it wrong.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to look ahead, we should just do so without expecting much of it to come true.  So what we end up with is simply guesses and a laundry list of things we would like to see happen.  Another way to predict is to paint with broad strokes that no matter what happens we look like we are soothsayers.  Well here are my guesses and wish list for 2011, enjoy.

Agile Development
Whether you are a practitioner or not, one has to admit that this development methodology has taken the market by storm.  Though I would be wrong to predict that older methodologies are dead (i.e. Waterfall and Spiral) they definitely do not get the positive press that Agile gets.  I think it would be safe to say that there will be many more teams, groups and organizations switching to the Agile Development Methodology.  I think the biggest adopters will be those that have yet to jump on the bandwagon yet such as government agencies and defense contractors, that is not to say that that hasn’t already been happening, they just weren’t the early adopters, and tend to move more slowly.  As this happens successful implementations will have to be the norm and failures will garner more attention, which could end up being Agile’s demise, we will have to see how that plays out.  How does this apply to CM?  We will have to change or continue to change the way we approach development and become more “agile” as well.  Like any field CM has to evolve to be relevant or it will become irrelevant.

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
ALM, which is still in its infancy, will continue to be another popular buzzword that will be used for better or worse to further Agile and other projects forward.  Tools will hopefully become more integrated and interoperable.  They will have to for this burgeoning field to continue to grow.  ALM tools have made great leaps since the early days, i.e. 2006-2008, but since the death of the Application Life Framework (ALF) project cross product integrations between competitors have not really happened. Hopefully this will lead folks to develop their own integrations or maybe the market will step forward, IBM’s Rational Team Concert is a positive step in that direction.   Maybe the various standards and frameworks groups that haven’t already addressed ALM, IEEE has addressed it, SEI and ITIL have not, will step up to the plate and help define and guide this field to a more standardized understanding.  Regardless this framework, eventual standard, or whatever it becomes will be with us for a long time so study up and learn it.

Configuration Management (CM)
With CM it will be pretty much the same as always, various groups will continue to define and refine this field and as such it will remain a sub-category of the greater ALM field, this may be a good thing, of course you could argue it is not a good thing as well.  I personally feel that anything that promotes my chosen field is a good thing.  As ALM grows I feel that CM by default will grow as a field.  Whether that includes its place in the sun remains a mystery, I can certainly hope so.  Maybe and this is a wish list item, but I feel that if CM practitioners can show that ALM is an extension of CM we might be able to transform our field to a greater importance in the other areas of ALM where they belong.  Our field seems to get little respect at times and is one of the things cut in downturns in the economy along with quality assurance and quality control.

CM Folk’s Unite
This is always on my wish list every year.  Although I have seen many attempts at this, nothing has ever gained traction.  Though CM Crossroad’s is the de facto place for CM professionals to gather I hope for something more.   In my younger years I wanted a complete break from all of the groups that currently define our profession and set out on a different path where CM professionals could define what and who we are as well as define the key concepts of our field.  That pipe dream has never happened; despite a few attempts in CM Crossroad’s forums no one ever took the bait.  Then a wise friend told me that maybe we should just accept the different defining organizations and from that point adopt one or more and use that as the basis for your beliefs.  While that is fine I would like to see us more united.  QA has the Society of Quality Assurance (SQA), Project Managers have PMI, Dentists have the ADA, etc.    If we couldn’t define CM at least we could as a professional organization define what it means to be a CM Professional, which would do nothing but further our profession.

Every year starts with hope and promise for a brighter future, I for one do not make resolutions because I feel they are a setup for failure.  Whether you share my views or not the IT field and with it CM are ever changing.  Today’s bright idea is tomorrow’s old way of thinking.  CM seems to be wrought with old thinking and a stodginess that I believe is unwarranted and unfair, but that misconception and changing it is in our hands.  As well, I try not to dwell on the past as that is the ultimate judge of our failures.  So as I and hopefully you look forward we will have a better CM field then when we started this year.  I for one hope so as my livelihood depends on this field and all that comes with it.  Have a great year!

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