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.
Evaluating and selecting configuration management (CM) and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools is an opportunity both to ensure that you have a good process in place and to learn the present state and the state-of-the art in CM and ALM technology. As with most technology, as you move from one generation to the next, the capabilities grow more rapidly, while the timeframe for each generation shrinks. Evaluation is a critical step in securing good process, and should be done in a manner that will ensure success. You don't want to start any project with the wrong requirements, nor with a dated understanding of technology.
First Things First
What's the best way to go about tool evaluation. Before you start evaluating, or at least as part of your initial preparation, make sure you equip yourself in the following three ways:
1) Know your users: talk to them. What would make their life easier. Your users don't know exactly what they need. But they might have some complaints, suggestions or other hints that will let you understand them. User complaints are normally high priority - and they should be. But some are objectively more urgent than others. Still, your users are your customers, so find out what you need to make them happy, and then plan to exceed their expectations.
2) Understand today's CM and ALM technology. It's not the same as 10 years ago. It's not even the same as 5 years ago or 3 years ago. Yes, many tools stay the same, substantially, over long periods. But some are charging forward. And there are some new kids on the block too. Use the vendors to help you catch up. They say they've got some ground-breaking technology - make them tell you why in an hour or two. Read the CM Journal (especially the column CM: THE NEXT GENERATION).