The Events That Will Help Shape the Future of Configuration Management

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In his CM: the Next Generation series, Joe Farah gives us a glimpse into the trends that CM experts will need to tackle and master based upon industry trends and future technology challenges.

Risk will become unacceptable and customers will start to look at customization in a new light. It's not only a cost for benefit thing. It's really, "How responsive can we be to our needs? What confidence do we have that the existing technology and budget will get us through to the end of the project?" If a customer cannot control these factors, the risk is substantial.

Innovative Training
What will training cost and can it be short, for productivity purposes, and flexible, for incrementally bringing users up to speed? The first rule of a good, efficient, comprehensive training program is... ease of use. That doesn't sound much like training, but if the product requires too much training, forget it. Organizations can't afford the per diem course charge. But equally, they can't afford the lost productivity which comes out to about $2K/person/week. Besides that, try keeping someone's attention for a few days learning a new tool they didn't really want in the first place. End-user training will now be measured in hours, not days.

The second rule: course materials will need to be customized to organization terminology and process. It's fine if the vendor wants to call a change package a changeset or an update. It's fine to call an issue a problem report, a bug, or a defect, but don't try to train users on the flow of a problem report by using different state names than they are already familiar with. Your course will turn into a terminology session.

Finally, course material will need to be available on-demand. This means video and/or computer-based training, still customized mind you. In some cases, the vendor may help the customer customize the course and present it themselves, for a much lower royalty fee instead of a course fee. In other cases, vendors may provide web-based live customized training, which can later be viewed by others, at a nominal charge per view.

During the 3rd generation and into the 4th, tools will evolve so that the training is fully integrated with the tool, and in such a way that the organization can control the content. For those vendors looking to training revenues as a significant source of revenue, don't rely on your basic user operation courses any more. Sure CM is still a complex business, but the ease-of-use has got to be there regardless. That means smarter technology, and in-tool process-guidance.

About the author

Joe Farah's picture Joe Farah

Joe Farah is the President and CEO of Neuma Technology and is a regular contributor to the CM Journal. Prior to co-founding Neuma in 1990 and directing the development of CM+, Joe was Director of Software Architecture and Technology at Mitel, and in the 1970s a Development Manager at Nortel (Bell-Northern Research) where he developed the Program Library System (PLS) still heavily in use by Nortel's largest projects. A software developer since the late 1960s, Joe holds a B.A.Sc. degree in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto. You can contact Joe at farah@neuma.com

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