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


Note that for CM, all three of the pillars would apply to form, fit & function

These classic principles have influenced architects through ages, including Louis Sullivan, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe with equivalent statements of "form follows function". As suggested by Jon Zingmark ([14]), the notion of venustas is often neglected. One of the requirements is short lead-time in delivery of software which calls for more focus on what you are supposed to deliver than on how you deliver it. We should aim to abstract the principles as much as possible and to automate the low levels in order to take care of venustas as close to the customer needs as possible.

Aspiring to be Configuration Directors Rather than Configuration Managers
One idea to take on board is expressed by noted business author Charles Handy [13]:

Go to the theatre and look at the programme. Everyone connected with the performance is listed, no matter how small their contribution. People like to be recognised as individuals. The word "manager" is reserved for those in charge of things, not people, the stage manager and the lighting manager. The people who are in direct communication with the customer, the actors, are directed, not managed, by someone who actually leaves the scene once the project is under way. He or she trusts the cast to go it alone, and as often as not, they improve on the production once the director departs. Trust inspires. One more thing - at the end of each performance they receive an expression of appreciation from their audience, direct feedback from the people who matter. No waiting for the annual performance appraisal.

Thus we can manage configurations of CIs, but we work with other people in the development team to direct the overall configuration and delivery according to CM requirements.

What can we do as SCM professionals to direct our teams to achieve SCM principles in an agile manner, without seeking to control every last action?

What training, education, inspiration, vision and support are necessary to achieve this? How can we empower the team members and let appropriate organization emerge from within the team and yet satisfy the traditional requirements of CM. The challenge is to get really involved with the team and work as part of the whole effort. This is something that experienced CM professionals have long been doing, but we all know how easy it is to slip back into a somewhat "ivory tower" mode, where we can almost be viewed as adversaries of the development team, people who "get in the way" of them doing their job.

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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