Culture, Methods, and Governance and Their Impact on CM


Seeing CM through the Lens of Methods
A method is defined as a systematic or structured way of implementing or accomplishing something. In the IT field, methods (aka methodology), refers to defined project lifecycle methodologies, practices, standards, and techniques that guide organizations in the way they should perform their work. The simple form of a method is a structure with phases (e.g., the more traditional methods) or iterations (e.g., the agile methods) to get you from point A to point B. More complex implementations of methods include standards and practices that help you do specific things, templates that include the detail that is needed, and tools that help you perform certain tasks and functions.

The way this relates to CM is that CM is seen as an overall approach to controlling changes within a product line and project's therein used in context with most project lifecycle methods (both phased and iterative).CM includes various practices, some of which are used by most projects (e.g., version control, build management, problem management, and release engineering) because of their perceived value and other CM practices (e.g., CM planning, audit, and reporting) are used by those organizations that have follow methods and standards (such as CMMI, ITIL, IEEE, etc.) because of the value they place on such industry standards.

The more mature the use of the methods within an organization, the more likely the organization is willing to adopt new value-added practices. Also, the more mature the methods are in the organization, the more likely there is a recognized need and acceptance of practices that ensure integrity of the product, in this case CM practices. With more maturity comes a likelihood that someone knowledgeable in the method will understand the importance of CM and be willing to help champion the CM change. In general, if an organization has mature uses of methods, it is very likely that they already have a form of CM.

The less mature the methods, the more likely there is a cowboy Wild West attitude. This cowboy mentality abhors structure in any way implying that CM practices will be ad hoc or perceived to be a nuisance. The only bright side here is that even those companies with immature methods often see the value of at least basic version control and typically build management. The form of the CM will vary greatly from group to group, though, making it hard for the CM professional to leverage reuse in any way.

Avoiding Mistakes in CM Adoption
As you consider the adoption of CM, it is important to evaluate the culture of an organization, the strength of the governance structures in place, and the maturity of the methods being use. Mistakes are made when these factors are not considered that can impact the success of the CM adoption. This data becomes valuable input into determining whether to initiate a CM adoption effort or at what form of CM should be implemented.

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