I’ve written a number of CMCrossroads articles on how software configuration management (SCM) and its related tools have progressed through three or four generations while most organizations’ tools and processes remain at a first-generation (1G) or second-generation (2G) level.
Most organizations still use 2G or even 1G CM technology and processes, largely because they have experience in only a single area of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) rather than the entire lifecycle. This is not uncommon. The recent emphasis on GIT and Subversion comes from a focus on version control, perhaps with a mix of global development.
But what happens when you want to improve your CM capability? In a recent LinkedIn discussion, a person was asked to evaluate ALM tools that “support the SDLC” and are “easy to use." The discussion generated several mostly helpful comments that focus on identifying requirements before looking at ALM tools. Requirements first, right?
Well, that works if you do it right and have an adequate knowledge base from which to start. But, if you’re bound up in 1G or 2G CM technology, your requirements will never advance. You can’t ask a caveman to help you improve lighting. He would tell you outdated information, like you need a torch that is easy to light and a secure stand—perhaps over a sand pit.
Now, educate that caveman by showing him how electricity works, how light bulbs have evolved, and how LED lighting even makes battery-operated lighting feasible. Will he now be in a better position to tell you requirements? Yes, much better, but far from what we’re looking for—until he spends a good deal of time on the matter.
So it is with CM technology and ALM tools. In order to get good requirements, you need to look at the best and latest technology out there. You need to read up on ALM requirements to get a good picture of what is happening. Invite vendors in to show you their tools and explain their whizbang features. Talk with the experts—the ones who understand more than 2G technology.
Don’t just go to your team members or management and ask for their ideas. While you may get a few ideas, they will only deal with the issues you shouldn’t even be having due to your older technology and processes.
By all means, build your requirements list, but start from outside the box. If you look hard, you will find 3G and 4G ALM tools and the related requirements.
President and CEO of Neuma Technology, Joe Farah is a regular contributor to the CM Journal. Prior to cofounding Neuma in 1990, he was a director of software at Mitel. In the 1970s, Joe developed the Program Library System (PLS), still heavily used by Nortel (Bell-Northern Research), where he worked at the time. He's been a software developer since the late 1960s.