of fitting existing, fairly well known methods to our process requirements, and doing a bit of customization to ensure the fit is snug.
2. Acquisition of Tools to Support CM/ALM
There are still companies out there that decide that they need to build their own CM
tools - for whatever reason. Most of it is NIH syndrome. There is very rarely a
need today for a company to build its own CM tool. In fact, there is a continuously smaller need to knit together tools into a complete ALM solution. Even though there are still CM tools for which you can dish out over $10K per seat, there are quite a selection of very low cost (to free) tools that provide a significant CM benefit, and even full ALM solutions for under $1K/user.
Small businesses have to pay their employees, like everyone else. They can't afford not to invest $1K/user to keep their competitive advantage. The problem comes in knowing which tools to invest in to ensure that they are getting an advantage without at the same time requiring a staff-up effort to operate and support the tools. Many fall into the trap of assuming that a freeware tool is the least expensive. In some cases this may be the case. But a full ALM solution is required by companies small and large to effectively manage product development. Regardless of the cost, if the solution requires significant up front resources (including training and initial data
population), significant operating administration, complex or tedious CM tasks for CM managers and/or developers, significant tool integration/glue, etc. it is not going to be suitable for small business.
Some of the key drivers of 3rd generation CM/ALM technology address these issues. 3rd generation tools generally have a small footprint, are easy to install, easy to populate from existing data, are easy to use, and have a very low administrative requirement. As well, they have the basic set of CM/ALM features that permit an organization to achieve a high level of process maturity. A small business should look only at 3rd generation or higher tools, or risk being swallowed up by the tools/process. This is not to say that there aren't some nifty, low administration 2nd generation tools out there. But they do only part of the job
and you'll have to find other nifty tools to do the rest and then you have to knit them together to get your full ALM solution. The cost in time in having to evaluate
multiple tools, having to knit them together and maintain upgrades to the whole
package is considerable.
3. Customization of the tools to support the process
If you're lucky, you'll find a tool that fits your process perfectly, and you'll find
that your process never needs to change. But don't count on it. Even with
a high-end, mature CM capability and process, we've found that most organizations need to change their process for one reason or another. Some high end tools have a high degree of customization capability, but the customization capability is far from
trivial. You may need weeks of courses and still have to spend a good deal of time making the changes. A small business can't afford this.
Instead, look for a process-centric tool that also is easy to customize. The fact that it is process centric will likely mean that the process is easy to adapt. But process has many components: object state flow, workflow/rules/triggers, permissions, data schema, user interface and reports/queries. Your process is specified in terms of roles, so your tools must allow customization in terms of roles. The most important
thing from an ease-of-use perspective is "who sees what".