1-Minute Assessment: Configuration Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you name configuration items, those specific technology components that make up your technical solutions?
  2. Do you have a tool, 3rd party or open source, to help with configuration management?
  3. Do you package your configuration items as baselines?
  4. Do you track change requests?
  5. Do you propagate the necessary changes into the configured items, maintaining baseline and version integrity?
  6. Do you have people who can objectively audit the configurations?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you are potentially lacking fundamental control of the product solutions you deliver to your customers.  Some examples might help.

  • Imagine a library without the Dewey Decimal System.  Publications of all sorts are strewn about the library, no cataloging order, no grouping of subjects, authors’ last names in any sequence, no regard for taxonomy.
  • Think of every tax return you ever filled out, all the receipts and records, jammed into one burgeoning folder, shaken up and tossed to the wind, and the IRS invites you tomorrow to a sit-down audit.
  • How about an automobile pieced together with last years interior, this years exterior, including the recalled components!
  • Consider you are working with an interior decorator on your kitchen and you express interest in the blond cabinets, but she installs the redwood ones, despite your having negotiated and agreed to the change.
  • Maybe you’ve worked all night on your thesis and when you pick up in the morning, you begin to revision the copy from two nights before, losing all the changes, incurring time and angst in the process.

Now, let’s look at CM in IT.  Hundreds, thousands, of IT workers, at the office, or distributed globally, in the United States, China, India, Mexico, and elsewhere, creating thousands, hundreds of thousands, of technology components:  code files,  GUI, data, SQL,  stored procs, .configs .dat, .java, .jsp, XML, HTML, requirements (business, functional, and non-functional), designs, test cases, test procedures, test data, learning content, all of it going through constant revision, today’s work obsoleting yesterday’s, changes needing to cascade and propagate, related items needing “stapling,” all progressing through the lifecycle, the quality gates, on their way into the customers’ hands.

Can you really afford to deny yourself a world-class practice in configuration management?  Do you seriously believe that all the necessary versioning, labeling, and baselining, the Dewey Decimal System, is going to somehow miraculously manifest itself?

Product quality, brand integrity, and your customer base, are all that you have to lose.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

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