The Agile Difference for SCM


The agile recommendation is to make it easy for everyone to build the system at the push of a button. This saves time:

  • It frees programmers from repetitive and mundane tasks
  • Reduces time spent chasing down compilation and convergence issues
  • Reduces dependencies and bottlenecks, as people won’t get called back to fix the build

Continuous Integration

A presentation and demonstration of a continuous integration framework at the recent BCS CMSG event demonstrated the advantages:

  • Improving quality due to much more immediate feedback of integration problems
  • Improved speed as it is done so often, problems don’t lurk unnoticed

Manage Your Test Data

There are various methods for doing this, including one called ObjectMother. If you have any form of database, then you will need to address this issue. The pain of updating a test database to reflect the production database tends to increase the likelihood that they will drift out of sync, thus leading to a variety of errors that really should be caught much earlier. The SCM implication is simply that test data and the resulting frameworks need to be version-controlled along with the code.

Embrace Collective Ownership
Collective ownership both reduces the risk of the key team member falling under the bus while also improving quality through practices such as paired programming. It diffuses knowledge throughout the team and avoids isolated silos of knowledge.

This may also encourage a matching SCM attitude that everybody does SCM on a project. Thus, the SCM person needs to become a focused contributor to the team rather than an enforcer.  (S)He should not just do SCM, but also code, etc.

In our experience, this makes for a more enjoyable job, but we've come across quite a few SCM people who like to sit in their \dungeons making occasional forays out to frighten the natives a bit. Being "in the trenches" will also highlight the appropriate automation necessary to make things faster and easier.

Another related aspect of this is the need for the team to become fully conversant with SCM and comfortable with their tool and how to do things like branching and merging, which many are somewhat reluctant to do. Perhaps this is due to too many bad experiences in the past. This is where we can break down some of the barriers between SCM and development.


About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at or visit and follow his blog at

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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