Defining Agile SCM: Past, Present & Future (2008)

We would like to revisit our definition of Agile SCM. In our earliest articles on the topic, we defined Agile SCM as, "The pragmatic application of sound CM principles and practices in accordance with agile values and lean thinking to serve the needs of the business!" We wish to elaborate what that means in terms of SCM for agile development, but even more importantly in terms of how we should apply agile, lean, and their related principles to SCM processes and procedures.

History of Agile SCM
Prior to the February 2001 gathering in Snowbird, UT that resulted in the Agile Manifesto and the name "Agile Development Methods," Agile methods were called "lightweight" or "minimalist" methods. From 1995-2000, hardly anyone knew of any of them except for Extreme Programming (XP), though there were several others during that time (including Scrum, ASD, Crystal, DSDM, and FDD). Discussions of the application of SCM to such methods were fairly limited:

·         XP had declared a set of 4 values, along with some principles & practices, and was quickly gaining popularity (and notoriety). On occasion, the moniker eXtreme CM (or XCM) might have been bandied about a few times on a handful of mailing-lists.

·         Any mention of SCM for these development methods typically referred only to a small handful of CM-related practices (e.g., continuous integration) and how to create a CM environment (with a strong emphasis on tools & tooling) that would enable those methods and empower the team.

·         Rapid Application Development (RAD) was around before Agile & XP came on the block, as were collaborative development environments. And again, almost all mentions of SCM in these contexts were in the form of enabling these kinds of project environments with tools and procedures (mostly tools).

To our knowledge, the term "Agile SCM" was first coined in 2000-2002 by Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk (before "Agile" was trendy & popular) while collaborating together on their SCM Patterns book [7], and in a subsequent appendix they wrote for Ann Hass' book on SCM Principles and Practices [8]. Being part of the software patterns community in the late 1990's made both Brad & Steve privy to numerous discussions with, and review-drafts of papers from Agile pioneers such as Kent Beck, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Alistair Cockburn, Robert Martin, Michael Beedle, and others who would later found the Agile movement, create the Agile manifesto, and author the first books on eXtreme Programming, Refactoring, and Scrum. Some of those early discussions (prior to 2000) even took place on the original wiki-web (first created by Ward Cunningham), and many of those discussions are still chronicled there (albeit rather dated by now).


About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at or visit and follow his blog at

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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