Monday, 5 August 2013

Implementing Configuration Management Tools

Implementing Configuration Management Tools

No doubt configuration management tool plays a key role in a project success. It helps in performing development tasks more easily, quickly and in an effective manner. Choosing the right tool at right time helps in accomplishing project goals more efficiently and successfully. To implement new configuration management tool or replacing existing tool requires certain set of procedures that can be beneficial for better understanding and a way to proceed for your organization to start.

Few factors that can be considered in implementing or replacement of CM tool in an organization are as follows:

 What is the Need for Change?

It is important to identify the need and purpose of implementing CM tool in an organization. We need to document about the benefits achieved at organizational level, project level and its impact at corporate goals? Therefore, clarity and visibility is mandatory in identifying the actual requirements of implementing CM tool in an organization.  Similarly in case of replacing a tool, we must define performance measurements in compare to the proposed tool that will help us

  Willingness of Management for Change

Once the need is identified and documented, willingness of management is highly required for implementing or replacement of version controlling tool as they have to invest in terms of license, time allocation for R&D team, setting infrastructure [hardware/software, etc.], other resources because without their active support it's impossible to implement a tool at organizational level.

 Criteria for CM tool Selection

Few of the basic criteria that can be considered for CM tool selection are:
  • Whether the proposed CM tool will meet organizational process performance objectives?
  • Is it feasible and compatible with existing project environment like processes, characteristics etc. 
  • Are we going to propose a cost-effective solution?
  • Do we will really facilitate our development and supporting groups by implementing this tool?
  • Do the propose tool make difference in working performance and increase efficiency with quality?
  • Do we need migration (in case of existing tool replacement) and any constraints?
So above are few basic criteria that can be considered for CM tool selection and can be modified according to the requirement.

Research team and CM tool proposal Initiation

Here management assigns project manager for start working on CM tool selection proposal. Project Manager allocates a dedicated team that can be from either development or configuration management or any of the skilled resources that loves to explore new tools and technologies.  PM prepares project plan, defines a deadline, breaks major tasks into chunks, ensure team close coordination & communication, and define standards and policies while searching any new tool, etc. as he is the key player for this implementation.

 While working on tool selection, it needs to ensure ‘Organizational Objectives' and the ‘Scope/Purpose' should be aligned and properly documented.

What should be Proposal Outcomes

Proposal outcomes must be statistically analyzed by defining performance measures, tool comparisons in terms of both administration & client perspectives, risks and barriers that are associated with the proposal, feasibility of proposing the tool keeping cost, time, effectiveness, others.

Once relevant data is gathered, all information should be aligned according to tool functionalities, mapping them according to organizational project & processes, usability,  analyzed carefully, and finally Project Manager finalize his proposal for management review. The report must contain evaluation criteria, alternative solution, etc that helps management in decision making. It is important that report should cover complete coverage both pros & cons of implementing configuration management tool.

 Testing & Proceeding for Piloting

Once get a go-ahead with the manager, lay down required environment and perform thorough testing on the proposed tool. As it is earlier mentioned that tool should helps in accomplishing organizational business goals so project manager must be aware of future projects and strategy in terms of tool & technology.

 During testing all kind of statistics need to be collected having previous system performance verses the proposed system. Benefits achieved while performing the new system and associated risks that can suffer new implementation. Similarly all kind of faults, bugs and problems need to be documented, find their solutions on different kind of media like forums, web sites, tool vendor, or brainstorming, etc. and must be resolve before proceeding or conclusion.

 As soon all kind of functionalities is tested both from administration and client end, it should be planned for piloting a project. For selecting a project(s), make assure that you need to run with parallel flow like to take both existing and proposed solutions in parallel. Piloting project should be active where load of work is too high else desired results will not be achieved. Again piloting activity should be planned with defining role and responsibilities for a dedicated team. Project manager monitors the activity and analyzed the results for further action.

 After piloting completion, all records should be statistically gathered, measured and analyzed for further decision. If there is a need to extend the piloting period, project manager needs to reschedule the plan accordingly.

 Going for Deployment

After a successful completion of piloting, all results should be share will management along with all project managers. If the benefits of implementing the new tool are greater than the cost then it should be selected for deployment. Here deployment plan is developed containing various information like license cost (if required), training plan to existing users, setting infrastructure plan, backup plan, disaster recovery plan, migration plan, support and maintenance plan; and many others factors need to identify for deployment in an organization.

It is important that all actions and plans must be closely monitored and analyzes the performance. All barriers while deploying or implementing CM tool should be discuss openly with relevant stakeholders and resolve as you are implementing a change at organizational level.

Author: Saqib Khan
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