Software Configuration Management - Embracing the principles of ‘5S’

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Summary:

Configuration Management always remains as one of the key contributing factors for a successful project execution. Software Quality guru, Watts Humphrey in “Managing the Software Process” states - “The most frustrating software problems are often caused by poor configuration management .” It therefore becomes inevitable for organizations to establish and maintain good configuration management practices.

Establishing a Configuration Management system:

Body of knowledge on Software engineering prescribes a methodical way to implement and maintain a standardized configuration management system in  a software organization.

However, looking away from the traditional approach, introspection to 5S principles used in Shop floor management throws open an interesting resemblance of its applicability for Software configuration management. A seamless integration of the quality concepts of manufacturing industries in Software development environment could be well established. 

 The 5S Principle:  obapril061.jpg 
Configuration Management the 5S way 

Generally in a Software industry the outputs or items that are delivered to Customer comprises of program Source codes and documents .The documents would range from Business requirements, Functional specifications, High level design, Low level design, Product support documentation  Installation manual, User instructions, Training guide etc. 

These set of deliverables in a Software environment are referred as ‘Configuration Item(s)’ (CI).

A more technical definition of a Configuration Item being - Ahardware, software or interface item which is formally controlled and managed through the project's configuration management plan and processes.

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Interfaces with Quality models

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 Benefits in embracing 5S approach 

For any process initiative to succeed, presence of People, Process and Technology needs to be ensured in the right proportion. For standardizing a practice like configuration management, definitely the balance is more towards involvement of ‘People’ aptly supported by process and technology.

This is where embracing the principles of 5S may come in handy.

As the 5S principles attaches high importance to people involvement, institutionalization of good configuration management practices could be achieved in the most effective and efficient manner. Once the discipline of good configuration management is driven deep into the culture of organization, configuration management tools are means to achieve the end. 
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So organizations trying to build a basic Configuration management system could definitely look upon 5S principles to aid their cause.

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