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


Who are the Customers of SCM?
SCM is a foundation stone of development processes and underpins many aspects of software development. SCM is also an enabler of other processes and procedures. Thus the customers or stakeholders of SCM range from developers to QA, project management, release engineers, potentially auditors, and indirectly the end customers/business users.

Orderly Flow of Change and Evolution
SCM seeks to control change and we just need to make sure that this is adapted to consider the flow of change and ultimately the evolution of the system.

Systems that do not consider their evolution tend to become brittle and fragile, resistant to change. Activities such as refactoring can seem like unnecessary overheads, and yet their long term worth has been proven to many. Software must evolve gracefully, which requires supporting practices such as unit and acceptance test frameworks. Do your SCM processes have equivalent frameworks so that process can evolve in a well-supported manner?

Repeatability, Reproducibility, Traceability
Fundamental watchwords of SCM, and yet how are they achieved? If the effort is too high, then they become merely theoretical:  "Yes I could reproduce the systems as released, but it is too much hassle and is it worth it?" This re-iterates the importance of appropriate automation (with unit tests or the equivalent), to ensure that systems can be advanced forwards or rolled backwards with faith and confidence.

Traceability should be something that can be satisfied at the touch of a button with information collected unobtrusively.  It should not be at the cost of manual reporting and cross referencing, or of significant extra effort on a as part of their daily work by developers.

The 3 Pillars of (Vetruvian) Architecture
These are:

  • Utilitas (utility):  useful and usable (in terms of form, fit & function)
  • Firmitas (firmness/durability) :  product integrity (correct, consistent and complete)
  • Venustas (beauty/aesthetics): simplicity and elegance of design

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.

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!