Recently, I read an article from Segue Technologies that caused me to think back on the times I have been asked why configuration management (CM) is important to the success of my projects. As configuration managers, we can sometimes get so deep in the details of what we do that we struggle to answer the simple questions for our user base.
Sure, we can write scripts to automate builds and we can train users on the tools to implement CM, but we can also freeze when asked why organizations should have a CM team.
If this has ever happened to you, remember that you’re not alone. We have all been asked the question, ”What return on investment does an organization get for using CM?”
If you want to lose your audience quickly, tell them that you provide configuration control, configuration audits, status accounting, and configuration identification. You will usually get the deer-in-headlights look.
In order to answer this question, your audience should define how you explain what value it is you provide. For developers, this National Instruments article gives you the answer that developers are looking for. The author lists eight reasons in the section on the goals of CM that detail what developers want to hear, like managing multiple versions of applications, detecting and resolving conflicting changes, and providing a central repository of the code.
If you are ever asked by a project manager what you are adding to the project other than overhead and causing things to slow down, remember that the project manager has a different need from developers as to why you exist and what you bring to the table. I found a video that breaks down CM into an understandable language that any project manager can understand.
Another group that may ask you the "why are you so important" question is your quality control (QC) or quality assurance (QA) team. To answer that question, Cyreath, a United Kingdom-based company, has a piece that explains why implementing CM in the test team is so important. Though the company takes an ITIL angle on the question, the article provides the firepower needed to tell QA and QC folks why they need you.
Protecting and controlling the QA and QC environments, assessing impacts from configuration and environment changes, and effectively managing test assets are just a few of the reasons why CM is so important to these teams.
Can you think of other reasons why CM is important to your organization?
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.