Selecting a CM/ALM Tool That Will Add Value to All Users

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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.

27. Distributed development support: Basic means of distributing development geographically. Changes between sites need to be synchronized or at least sent to a central site with reasonable frequency (e.g., daily or weekly).

Third Generation CM/ALM Requirements
With third generation (3G) CM tools, we move more dramatically beyond functional improvements to operational cost reduction and ease of use issues, while expanding into a full ALM coverage. Although peak usage of 3G CM solutions are not expected prior to the 2010s, there are mature solutions available today. There is also strong impetus to move to a 3G solution because of the reduced cost of operation and the better acceptance by users. 3G tools expand the CM user base both horizontally, as additional applications are added in, and vertically, as ease-of-use supports use by executive management and administrative staff, as well as by the traditional technical staff.

3G CM tools are a significant advance in technology, even more so than the jump from 2G to 3G. However, because of the advances in technology, support requirements are reduced, allowing improved pricing over 2G tools, and allowing lower budgets for internal CM operations. This may be somewhat compromised by the extended breadth of coverage which requires additional process specification and training, covering a new class of users.

A brief description of some key requirements follow:

1. Low administration: Internal support teams for CM administration should be small for 3G tools, ranging from a part-time position for smaller projects, to a 2-person team for very large projects.

2. Fully interoperable Windows/Unix, Big/Little Endian: Interoperability between Windows and Unix/Linux extends to both servers and clients, with equivalent functionality available across platforms. Support for easy migration between big and little endian (typically Intel and non-Intel) platforms must be supported.

3. Platform-independent scripting integrated with repository data: Scripting must not be dependent on the platform used. It is expected that the underlying platforms will change at least once during the lifetime of the CM tool for your project.

4. Fast roll-out and upgrade capabilities: 3G systems are easy to evaluate and roll-out. Similarly, upgrades are relatively painless and typically do not involve any significant down time.

5. Seamless integration of CM/ALM applications: In a 3G CM tool, applications are seamlessly integrated so that a single user interface, a single set of base training, a single repository and a common process engine are used. Forms, reports, customizations and administration are no longer managed in an application-specific manner, but in a common manner across the life cycle. Administration and upgrade processes are dramatically simplified.

6. Extensive high-level configurability: Process, GUI, Schema: 3G CM/ALM tools allow relatively simple customization capabilities allowing the user interface, the CM data and the CM/ALM processes to track precisely the corporate models.

7. Easy bulk-loading capability for end users: The user should be able to load in data easily. This supports evaluation in the context of the customer's data as well as rapid capture of existing data.

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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