Configuration Management Planning: What To Do Before you Start

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Summary:
Configuration management planning should not start as you put together your CM Plan. By then, you've already predisposed yourself to how your plan is going to play out.

As with most things, the earlier in the process that you do your planning the better. Don't make the mistake of waiting until you start to define your CM process to do your CM planning. Your objectives should reach far beyond process. If you want to achieve the next generation of CM Planning, you need to start with an aggressive set of objectives and be ready to use next generation technology. Even if you don't meet all of your objectives, you'll find you're ahead of the game. Your preliminary objectives need to deal with a dozen or so key areas prior to zooming in on your CM process.

Here's what I might recommend as a set of aggressive objectives.

·         Automation: Automate what can be automated

·         Multiple site development:  Seamless addition of sites with no effect from geographic separation (other than time zone effects)

·         Administrative: Shoot for zero administration of your CM system and processes

·         Zero cost/big payback: You want a zero-cost solution that has big payback

·         Integration of tools and of the repository: All tools working from a common repository, using the same user interface

·         Next generation technology:  Benefit from already proven next generation technology that's not yet caught up to the mainstream

·         Guidance and training: No training is ideal, but perhaps settle for a couple of hours per role with guidance provided interactively by your technology

·         Process customization and improvement capability: Out-of-the-box processes are data driven for easy customization

·         Reliability and availability: 100% and 100% would be nice

·         On-demand information: Pre-canned reports and queries, rapid traceability navigation, easy customization of queries

·         CM standards:  Meets all recognized CM standards

·         Entire ALM process, not just CM: CM process specified well beyond current requirements, and extended from one end of the ALM process to the other

·         Security and data integrity: Adequate security levels and guaranteed data integrity

·         Serviceability, upgrades and evolution of your CM system:  Easy to service remotely without downtime, zero-impact upgrades, ability to evolve to handle wider process areas/requirements

Is this a bit idealistic? Perhaps, but perhaps not as much as you think. If you don't aim high, you're not going to get what you really want.

There are two ways to approach CM planning: push the state of the art or "follow the leader". The former approach uses your CM experience and outside resources to identify what are feasible goals that will eliminate traditional problems and maximize payback. The follow the leader approach looks at what most everyone else is doing and tries to stay in the ball game by emulating what has already been tried.

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About the author

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah

Joe Farah is the President and CEO of Neuma Technology and is a regular contributor to the CM Journal. Prior to co-founding Neuma in 1990 and directing the development of CM+, Joe was Director of Software Architecture and Technology at Mitel, and in the 1970s a Development Manager at Nortel (Bell-Northern Research) where he developed the Program Library System (PLS) still heavily in use by Nortel's largest projects. A software developer since the late 1960s, Joe holds a B.A.Sc. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto. You can contact Joe at farah@neuma.com

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