View Full Version : Programmers Should Love Change Management Software…Seriously!
01-25-2006, 02:40 AM
This is a great article, but it should come with a few caveats. CM is most useful in larger shops. The larger the shop, the greater the need for, and benefit from CM. But the converse is true as well. Little or no benefit will be derived from installing a full blown CM in a shop with three programmers or less. In fact the work load will increase by the need to maintain the environments, and other factors. I have been a CM administrator, and I have also worked in environments where I was the entire IT department. Obtaining CM in the wrong environment may very well backfire. Dave
01-25-2006, 05:10 AM
You neglected to mention some CM products that you use. I use Softlanding's Turnover product. It works well for all our needs, and performs all of the tasks you discussed in your article. How 'bout some mention of other CM tools available, and the pros and cons of each. - Jim P. St. Louis, MO
01-25-2006, 05:20 AM
One size may not fit all, but even the little shops need control. I have run the gamut of shops: I went from being one of 75 application programmers to being THE programmer. Regardless of size, CM is a big plus for keeping things consistent and getting things implemented correctly. My current employer just OK'd purchasing their very first CM package. I am the only developer here, but with all of the ILE options available, just getting objects created correctly can be a challenge. Consider procedures in modules in service programs referenced by other service programs used by programs. To date the only CM in place is a hodge-podge of a stand-alone help desk tool and whatever process I could develop. This works well about 95% of the time, but that's because I AM the only developer. If we were ever to hire an additional person or if I leave someday, the current process would be a nightmare to manage. I looked for quite some time for something that is cost-effective for a small shop. Many of the products start out at $15K-$20K. For one developer, that's hard to sell to management. What we ended up getting will top out around $15K, but that includes training, so it was a little easier to swallow. It would be nice to see some CM-Lite options for smaller shops. CM tools are not just for management. They DO make the programmer's life easier. --Bruce Guetzkow
01-25-2006, 05:24 AM
Even if I was a one or two man shop, I'd still want a change management product if any significant development is going on. I've always used Aldon's product, which includes a deployment component in addition to its CM functions. It saves me time and stops me making mistakes, because it always remembers exactly how to create objects. And the automatic source backups are really useful. But I do agree that the larger the shop, the more need for CM.
01-25-2006, 05:31 AM
David is 100% correct: one size does not fit all and I've certainly seen CM implemented in such a way as the end result is counter-productive. Mission number one is to choose a CM tool that is flexible enough to fit your needs. Mission number two is to ensure that it is implemented correctly, still fitting your needs. Mission number three is to learn how to use the tool correctly to ensure that it continues to meet your needs as time (and requirements and people) change. If you accomlish those three missions, you will most certainly succeed. However, I think David misses a major point in Marty's article: CM is not just about control. Notice that nobody in the industry anymore calls their product "change CONTROL". That's not just a marketing gimick. While we all certainly started in that mode, we quickly realized that productivity is actually more needed than control. And that, sir, is true in ANY sized shop. In fact, I would argue that a small shop of one, two or three developers is actually MORE in need of anything that could improve their productivity than a larger shop. If there are just two of you, it almost always feels like "it's just us against the world". If I can find something to ease that load, help you relax at nights, hang up your cell phone on the weekends and relax, is that of value? Almost always.
01-25-2006, 05:33 AM
Bruce, may I ask what product you went with and why? For a 2-person shop like ours, a "CM-Lite" version would be an easier sell. Thanks.
01-25-2006, 06:53 AM
Please read my comments carefully. I stated a "full-blown" CM, not any CM for the small shop. I stated that installing a CM "may" backfire. I never said that it "would" backfire. I agree with those who say that if a tool makes life easier, it may be worth the price. Dave
01-25-2006, 07:25 AM
My first exposure to a CMS was in basically a one man shop. The IT department consisted of myself and my boss. I was basically the only one doing programming on the iSeries. The shop was running a third party application system that we had the code to and to which we had made a considerable number of changes. We demo'd, purchased and installed Aldon's CMS while still in the modification & testing phase of migrating to the iSeries and the new third party application. Aldon paid for itself when the vendor sent out an upgrade for the inventory system a few weeks before we planed on going live with the inventory system. The parent-child relations that a CM can control between a vendor version and your custom version is almost invaluable. Even with a home-grown app in a small shop, the structure provided by a CM as far as task organization, deployment, and source tracking is very beneficial. I know I couldn't have been as productive as I was without it. In fact, I'd argue that a small shop can benefit as much or more than a larger shop. At least in a larger shop, you often have enforced standards that hopefully provide some benefits. In a smaller shop, the only standards are those you make yourself follow. In the middle of a problem it's easy for a smaller shop to make procedural short cuts. Charles
01-25-2006, 08:16 AM
Doing programming consulting I have been using Turnover at a very large shop. Programmers may be in different locations, and this worked for well for keeping the right versions in the right places. I highly recommend, but wish there was a smaller (read cheaper) version for a small development shop. We develop custom software and install on users machines remotely.
01-25-2006, 01:40 PM
I've found that smaller shops find PDE/400 from Applied Logic to be a modestly priced CMS solution that covers the bases.
01-25-2006, 04:54 PM
Maybe it depends on how the CM software is set up and implemented, but in my shop we have not experienced productivity gains - I am far less productive with CM than I was without it. We also use Aldon; the need to create tasks, "before" and "after" images for SOX, having to wait for the promote process significantly increases the development cycle. I know personally of users who no longer submit IT requests; they have given up all hope of their request making it through all of the approval processes, 'check-outs', etc in any kind of reasonable time frame. Shortly after Aldon was installed, we had an emergency. So we used the "emergency" function within the software - by golly, it ONLY took 4 days to get the program fixed and into production! Previously, this would have taken less than four hours. My other gripe with Aldon is that if you make a mistake with a program and have to revert back to the old production version, ... all of your changes are lost!! This has happened in our shop a couple of times. Using our old in-house 'SAVSRC' command would have allowed us to revert to the old production version AND keep the new changes. So again, maybe it's the way it was implemented here, but from my standpoint, the only benefit of using CM is for management.
01-25-2006, 10:19 PM
I am concerned that you are missing out on many of the benefits of the change management system. We regularly hear from developers that the kind of change management functions Marty wrote about, like increased automation, reduction in errors and developer tools provide developers with significant productivity gains. There is a great deal of flexibility in how you can use the system. For example, a setup option determines whether tasks are required or not. If tracking detailed task information benefits your organization they can be used. If not, they can be optional. The same is true for requests and approvals. The promote process automates a variety of functions that typically are done manually. In a single operation, the user simply selects the list of source, objects or tasks they want moved forward. The system then automatically moves them to the appropriate libraries, creates the objects with the correct creation options, creates all the dependent objects, assigns the authorities, archives the old versions, handles the file conversions, re-creates all necessary dependent objects and distributes the results to remote machines and/or partitions, if necessary and logs each activity. Many of our users tell us that this automation dramatically increases productivity. If you find that you need to revert to an old version by restoring something to production from the archive, the production version you are replacing is also archived, so your code should never be lost. The emergency promote function only requires a couple of keystrokes. It allows authorized users to rapidly move a fix into production, bypassing the normal, user-defined approval stages if necessary. When it is used, the system records activity information so others will know that an emergency fix has been placed in production. Part of the frustration we have seen developers experience is that change management systems are often implemented as part of a SOX compliance effort. Typically IT organizations in complying with SOX have found it necessary to add approval operations, additional documentation requirements and other procedural steps to the development lifecycle. These types of controls can certainly be frustrating and slow a developer down. However, without an automated change management system, they would be even more onerous. Interestingly, studies have shown that by implementing more rigorous processes, overall development productivity actually increases substantially over time. (I can send you some case studies if you are interested). I hope that this information will be helpful to you. Please contact me directly if I can be of more assistance.
01-26-2006, 08:17 AM
We went with Arcad. I looked at Softlanding/Turnover, PDE/400, MKS/Implementer and a couple of others that I can't remember. I didn't like that way PDE/400 worked...personal preference here. It also didn't have all of the functionality that I wanted. I've used Turnover before and really liked it, but the base price was too steep. Ditto MKS. Arcad isn't "cheap", but was considerably less than the others. (Anyone who knows me knows that I buy all the free software I can afford.) ;-) They all pretty much do the same things and I've heard good things about many of the products. Arcad seemed to be the best fit for us. --Bruce Guetzkow
01-27-2006, 06:37 AM
... so to have him mentioning vendors is probably not a good idea. :)
01-27-2006, 06:37 AM
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