training in these tools and processes.
Assuming you can get the tools and processes in place, there's still another aspect to Enterprise CM - and that's moving from traditional CM to organizational-wide CM practices. So what do I mean by this?
Well let's start out by looking at Hardware versus Software development. One uses PDM/PLM tools, while the other uses CM/ALM tools. Don't try to impose one set of tools on the other's discipline - it won't work. Why? Primarily because the tools have been designed to meet the needs of a particular discipline. This is changing though. If you haven't found one yet, it won't be long before you see CM tools that can address both Software and Hardware, turning two teams into one. The requirement here is that tool vendors understand both Hardware and Software processes and their corresponding requirements. This is not too difficult, but if the tools weren't built with this level of support flexibilty in mind, they'll not be easy to change. But because Software is such an important part of Hardware today, this is going to happen - it might just take a bit of time.
OK. So let's move a bit further from SCM. What about the other CM, also known as Asset Management. Again, the CM technology base is the same - tracking configurations, baselines, changes. But the end-user interface is quite different. The CM happens differently. So again it comes down to understanding requirements and having tools flexible enough to adapt to the requirements and to support the processes. There are different processes involved, different problems to be dealt with, and niche pieces of technology that can help. For example, hardware and software that can report on its configuration is a big help to Asset Management. It helps to identify changes made to a configuration from the configuration itself, sort of like identifying changes to a workspace that were made completely apart from the SCM tool. RFID technology will help here. And change authorization procedures and technology will also help. Add a few of these technologies into a CM tool, change the user interface focus and/or role functions, and you have an Asset Management tool that will also support development CM.
So far we've stayed more or less within the realm of recognized CM of one sort or another. Now let's go whole hog across the organization. How are our financial spreadsheets evolving? Who's tracking changes to processes and procedures? How are we tracking human resources: requirements, offers, hiring, etc? What does all of this have to do with CM? Well, mature Enterprise CM contains a lot of intelligence that can be applied to other parts of the organization. Think of the organization as the product - how is it changing? Think of finances as measurement of a corporation's success. How do we put business cases and requirements in place to ensure this success? How do we track adherence to these requirements? What about the legal department? Not only are there a lot of similarities to software version control, but requirements, information access, and traceability are basic needs shared here as well as with traditional CM.
In fact, in the past year or so, the Institute of Configuration Management has expanded its domain from development to the full set of business processes. There are dozens of business processes that can benefit from the disciplines of CM. And all of these have components such as document management, problems/issues/requests, project management and so forth.
This gives Enterprise CM a whole new scope! Maybe we're not ready to move there yet. But