cm: the next generation


Why It's Important for CM and Project Management to Work Together

One of the problems with Configuration Management (CM) and Project Management (PM) is that the tools and the data repositories for each are separate. As a result the processes are quite separate. The project manager takes a set of requirements and decomposes them into tasks, which are then prioritized, scheduled and assigned. The CM team creates configuration items and tries to tie the CIs back to the requirements so that they can be properly audited. When CM and PM work together they tend to enhance each others function, and eliminate potential overlap in the processes.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
How to Make Your CM Process Agile

To make your CM process agile, go through it and identify how you can reduce end-user complexity, tool misfits, and areas of greatest risk. An agile CM process is one that supports all team members, making them more productive and simplifying their management tasks.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Finding the Right Mix of ALM Processes and Tools for Design and Implementation

Configuration management is complex. As a product evolves, CM gets even more complex, as complexity breeds problems. So how do we continually march our product configurations toward higher and higher quality? You need good people, process, tools, and automation. People define and put the processes in place. Tools are used to automate the processes and to bury the complexity of CM below the user level. Development is a process that takes ideas and turns them into products. There are many techniques and tools to do design and implementation. The right mix is required to effectively develop a competitive product. On the management side of things, the same is true. Application lifecycle management requires the right set of processes and tools to allow the design efforts to be properly leveraged and to yield the best quality.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Establishing Effective Software Metrics for the Measures You Want

The goal of software metrics is to have a rich collection of data and an easy way of mining the data to establish the metrics for those measures deemed important to process, team, and product improvement. When you measure something and publish the measurement regularly, improvement happens. This is because a focus is brought on the public results.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Change Management Is Essential to the Building Processes

Building is considered to be one of the fundamentals of configuration management, even though some might argue that building isn't really CM. The reason it is fundamental is that the build/verification cycle provides proof of reproducibility if done correctly. It forces CM to be done correctly so that only the objects from the CM repository are used to reproduce the build. When formal build processes are correct, they need no information that resides outside of a CM repository. When properly done, the build record is created prior to the build (i.e., a build notice) rather than as a result of the build, with that record being used to drive the build process. An integral change management capability is an essential component of such a build process.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Six Ways to Build Reliable Applications

I came across a paper the other day in Better Software titled, "Code Improvement" by Jeff Grover and Zhon Johansen. It's a short, but good article focusing on developing well-designed code. My favorite point was "Start/Finish each task by refactoring". In other words, stop the entropy of expanding your software solution by ensuring that the code is as minimal as necessary to meet the requirements. There are parallels in the CM world that ultimately lead to a reliable CM process and tool support capability. In this article, I'll venture where I don't usually go: inside our own development environment to bring out a few points that may apply equally to general development and to a CM environment.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Seamless Integrated Tops Wishlist for CM/ALM Tool Suites

There are a lot of CM/ALM solutions out there - so where are we headed? In my opinion, the future of CM/ALM will be defined by the level of tool suite integration, more than by any other factor in the 3rd and 4th Generations of tools. And basic "integration" will not cut it. Putting tools together into a single package with some glue and triggers to help the tools interact is helpful, but will fall short of market demand. "seamless integration" will be a requirement. No advance is more important to the next generation of CM tools. What about cost? What about ease-of-use? How about traceability? The answer is simple: first seamless integration, and the rest will follow. If you haven't seen a seamlessly integrated tool suite, you may not fully grasp this statement. But seamlessly integrated tools are the ones that will be dominant in the future. Let's look at why.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
How We Got from Version Control to Product Management

Version control (VC) has been around long before software. But it wasn't until the late 1960s and early 1970s that it emerged as a common software function. Today, version control is still necessary, but is a much smaller piece of the configuration management (CM) and product management (PM) pictures. While version control is a relatively simple application, configuration management is anything but. No wonder it is embraced with such reluctance. This doesn't have to be the case. The key to adopting a successful CM program is to select tools which help you to automate the complexity without taking short cuts that will lead to problems down the road.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
Will Open Source Dominate Development Management?

Open Source is a great concept, thmough any resisted at first. Can you remember a time when it was valid to use the argument that, "Nobody will commit to supporting it, so you're taking your chances"? Today, I see it differently. There are loads of support for open source products, even better than for commercial products in many cases. So does that make it the winner?

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah
A Look Ahead to the Third Generation of CM Tools

Every year we like to take a look at where the CM industry is going. There are always two sides to the story. Where is technology moving, and where is the market moving? Technology is moving ahead at a good clip, from some vendors, while stagnant with others. The same can be said of the market. There are those looking at a full ALM solution or an Enterprise CM solution, while there are others who are looking primarily for a version control/build tool, possibly with some change management.

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah


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