The Agile Difference for SCM


Development will typically want to use the most recent working and tested state of the codeline rather than wait for a formal build and baselining activity that takes as long to baseline as it takes to complete a multiple development tasks.

Agile development will require what it deems the true construction portion of software development (namely build and test) to be as automated and integrated as possible so it can be executed as frequently and as quickly as possible. Development would be able to use the current configuration (latest baseline plus approved changes) as the basis for each development task.  Additionally, rigorous build/test criteria would be allowed prior to each task-level commit, in order to preserve codeline integrity and stability while still enabling rapid integration and test feedback.

Key Agile Practices and Their SCM Implications

What are some of the key agile practices that organizations look to introduce? In a recent article, Peter Schuh identified a number of ways to add some agile without going to extremes:

  • Automate and share the build process
  • Implement a test framework and start writing unit tests
  • Adopt a continuous integration process
  • Plan and deliver in short iterations and small releases
  • Identify and collaborate with your customer
  • Manage your test data, don’t let it manage you
  • Embrace collective ownership and share code

Let’s examine the impact that each of these has on SCM.

Automate and Share the Build Process
The build process is a core part of SCM. The fundamental SCM principles that apply are to always deliver a known reproducible build from a clean environment. This has a tendency to lead to a build master or build team producing the golden build and, thus, becoming a major bottleneck.


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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