Exactly how big is an organization supposed to be before CM must take an active part in the development team? The answer is simple. CM, properly adopted, gives an advantage to the small business that is necessary for it to compete. It doesn't really matter what size your company is, you still have to successfully develop, build, distribute and track your software. The fact that you're in a small business means you have less resources to do so. This is why CM is so crucial to small business.
The key here is to start with Next Generation tools and processes, because these require far fewer resources than earlier generations. In a small business, you don't have time to perform data base management and administration. You barely have time for backups. Once your customer count exceeds one, you can't afford to manually put together customer progress documents. And even if your customer count is less than or equal to one, the key is automation.
The Underlying Essentials
Unless you've been in a small development environment, you probably don't realize how big an impact a small thing like doing backups, or researching a CM tool has on your schedules and resources. So it's important, from the beginning to focus on minimizing your costs.
If you start by looking for the best tool, as long as it's free, you may be in for a resource hit. Freeware solutions are definitely improving, but you're likely not going to find something that will allow you end-to-end lifecyle management with easy customization and a low level of administration, even if it is easy to use. Many CM vendors will cater to small business, perhaps offering a few licenses at no charge, or for a nominal fee to cover some costs.
But either way, the key is not how much you're paying, it's how much you're saving. This is where Next Generation comes in. There are a number of essential capabilities in Next Generation CM tools that are very appealing to small, resource stretched companies, not to mention the big guys. A small business doesn't have the time to spend on administration, process development - it needs to get going quickly while operating lean. At the same time, it needs not just to do what their larger competitors can do, but to excel over them. Below I've listed ten areas of CM where good tools and processes can help.:
1. Rapid deployment
If the CM tool cannot be installed in a few minutes, a small business is likely to give up on it. The time's not there. That's actually not a bad strategy either, because if it can't be installed quickly and easily, it probably will require a lot of administration. There are several tools out there that can be rapidly installed.
2. Easy data loading
It's not good enough to be able to play with the CM tool. If you can't get your data in there quickly, there's a big danger that it'll never make it in. Some tools are very good at automating the loading in of software, while others are not. But a good next generation tool will also help you to load in your existing problem database (probably a spreadsheet), your project plans and activities (if they exist), your documentation, test cases, and whatever other components you have in your small business development shop. And if you don't have these components, a next generation tool should make it easy for you to start tracking these without absorbing a "cost of doing business".
3. Reduce backup administration
It's a lot easier to back things up if their all in one tool. If you work toward this focus, you should find that your backup administration can be reduced significantly. Next Generation tools go further. They can organize repository data based on reference frequency, or even allow you to migrate data to a R/O medium from which changes can still be spawned. This can cut down the time it takes for full backups by a factor of 10 or more.
4. Eliminating backups while providing disaster recovery
I don't really recommend that you eliminate