Levels of an SCM Product Evaluation and their Associated Risk

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Summary:
Performing an SCM product evaluation is important so that the product selected meets the needs of the application being developed. Typically, there is not as much time spent evaluating SCM products as needed, even though an SCM product will be one of the more highly used tools in the application lifecycle. It is with this in mind that it is important to understand the levels of an SCM product evaluation and the level of risk each assumes.

Performing an SCM product evaluation is important.  This allows us to evaluate whether the  selected product meets the needs of the application being developed. Typically, there is not as much time spent evaluating SCM products as needed, even though an SCM product will be one of the more highly used tools in the application lifecycle. It is with this in mind that it is important to understand the levels of an SCM product evaluation and the level of risk each assumes.

Communicating risk can help you raise the priority given to this task. It can also lead to the appropriate level of SCM evaluation that is aligned with the level of risk an application team is willing to take. There are several levels of a SCM product evaluation that may be performed, each with a different level of associated risk. They include the research evaluation, the demonstration evaluation and the in-house/full evaluation.

Research Evaluation

This constitutes an evaluation based on reviewing existing documents (e.g., articles, research, etc) that discuss and evaluate SCM products published in technology trade magazines, journals, and evaluation documents such as (and not limited too) Software Development (SD) Times, Crosstalk, and Ovum. This may also include reviewing input from folks with actual working experience from SCM discussion forums like CM Crossroads. This will give you an insight into what you might look for in an SCM product. In specific, at this level of evaluation, ensure the SCM product meets the basic entrance criteria for the environment. Entrance criteria will include and are not limited to development platform(s) you will be working in, basic versioning capabilities for the type of code you will be working with (source, documents, binaries, etc), and cost constraint. After a review of these documents, a decision for selecting the product can be made. If you perform this level of SCM product evaluation, you are placing yourself in the highest risk of incorrectly selecting the best SCM Product to fit your needs since little time is used and no demonstration and hands-on experience is occurring.

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