be able to support virtually any process. Because these were objectives in place from the start, they were easy to meet. We simply looked at the effect of every feature and of the architecture on administration and customization.
Where we might have otherwise cut corners, we simply refused to, and often noticed that the net effort was the same apart for some extra deep, gut-wrenching thought processes that there was a tendency to resist. The result was a near-zero administration, easily customized tool.
The lesson is: If you want to achieve ideal results, you have to have ideal objectives from the outset, and then work to them. And it doesn't seem to cost any extra effort. In fact, the simplicity and the "this is the way it should be" results gives you plenty of payback down the road. So if you want to do real CM planning, set high goals up front and work to them.
How big a CM Admin team will you need? We're not talking about CM functions here, just the administration that goes with your solutions. Well some of the traditional chores include:
- Database optimization
- Server (and VOB) administration
- Disk space administration
- Dealing with scalability issues as the project grows
- Maintaining operation as you switch platforms (32- to 64-bit, Linux to/from Windows to/from Unix)
- Multiple-site data synchronization issues
- Upgrades to the database software
- Upgrades to the various ALM tools and the associated glue that integrates them
- Nightly backups and restore capability
- Initial conversion/data loading from your existing solutions
These are big issues. You have to ensure high availability. You have to maintain good performance. Take a look at the various CM solutions out there. These tasks will require a few hours a week to a dedicated team of a few people, depending on your project parameters and the solution chosen. If you want to have fewer people doing admin and more working on core business, do your research - don't just play Follow-the-leader blindly. Especially if your CM planning team is familiar with solutions they've worked with - the tendency is to stick with them because they know them, including their inherent risks. CM technology is progressing. There are leaner and meaner solutions; there are more advanced solutions that require less effort to maintain.
Integrated Tools Have you ever used integrated tools? Were you satisfied with the level of integration and the speed of cross tool query? You can have the best of breed for each tool in an ALM solution, and integrate them together, but that won't give you the best solution. Ideally, you want management tools that share the same user interface, so you're not hopping from tool to tool and so that you're not complicating your training, and that share the same repository, so that data at all levels is available to all tools. Ideally there's no integration
scripting that you have to maintain, even as you customize each management function. The second generation tools which knit together solutions are starting to give way to broader ALM solutions which are built on one or two core technologies.
Don't get into the situation where you have to have a team to do tool integration. Even worse is to have to outsource the same. If you have different groups picking their own management tools for the various functions, that's where you'll be headed. Instead, collect requirements and look around. You'll find that some do-all tools might not be the best in each function, but they're generally the best in some functions and have an added value of an integrated architecture. If traceability is important, integration is important.
Configuration Management Process It pays to understand your process. Don't just throw existing tools in front of your team along with a handbook. Go through each part of your CM process. Ask - is this the way the user