Seeing CM through the lens of Culture
Culture may be described as the set of shared values, goals, and practices within an organization that make up patterns for the way people behave and work. Within a culture, patterns may be introduced in an ad hoc manner or driven by leaders within a company and most often somewhere in between. In very young companies, these patterns are being invented and constructed by the way people interact and based on the needs of the company. In older organization, these patterns have been well established and often times continue to exist even when people recognize a need for change. In effect, inertia sets in. When people enter existing cultures, most attempt to identify the patterns and align with the culture while only a few will attempt to change the culture because of the effort needed to do so. The ability in which to change is directly proportional to how open or closed a culture is to accepting change.
When configuration management is introduced into a culture, it can take many forms. By this I mean the amount of CM functionality that can be introduced. As mentioned, version control is readily accepted. However, there is much more to CM than just version control. There is CM planning, build management, change control, problem management, branching and merging, release engineering, CM auditing, and CM reporting. It is important to identify what the culture can handle and also what it needs. Therefore, the form CM takes depends on three very important ingredients. The first is the person introducing CM (a.k.a., the CM professional) and second is the current state of the culture, and the third is the organizational or product CM need.
The CM professional will come with their own set of experiences in implementing CM.A wide range of experience in implementing CM is very helpful in implementing future CM systems. The goal of this person should be to identify the CM needs of the organization and then the type of culture that exists and how open the culture is to change. Then the CM professional should provide a form of CM that can be absorbed within that culture so that actual CM adoption will occur. It is best when a CM professional is flexible and has strong assessment skills so that they can determine the best form and level of CM and the best way to implement that level of CM. The biggest danger in implementing CM is when there are unrealistic expectations by either the CM professional or those within the culture. There are times when a CM professional is too enthusiastic and wants to implement the full array of CM functionality when the organization is not capable of adopting this level. On the other hand, there are times when an organization wants to