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Sourcing control impacts 3 tenents of Configuration Management

Source control is imperative to businesses with multiple product versions or product lines. In this post, we discuss source control and its impact on configuration management, and ultimately, the health of your product versions and product lines.

What are Source Control and Configuration Management?

Engineers and product managers often assume programs and platforms like Git, Subversion, or Perforce take care of all source control needs by tracking history and changes, however, source control involves more than tracked history and changes. It is at the heart of a larger configuration management process.

Configuration management allows companies to maintain and track different versions or product lines. If done correctly, configuration management saves the company and the customer money, pain and frustration. It is comprised of three major efforts, baseline management, interface management, and change control, all of which are effectively facilitated by quality source control.

  • Baseline Management is the task of managing a specific set of items that make up a released version of a system. These individual items, called configuration items, are the individual elements that comprise a portion of a system. Configuration items can be subsystems, components, assemblies or any other major item through which changes would impact system operation or performance, or the ability of the system to meet its requirements.
  • Interface Management is the task of determining, agreeing, and documenting the interfaces between various items and the system. This includes documenting and negotiating the interfaces between the subsystems and internal components within the system.
  • Change Control is the process for handling changes to the system. It is a formalized process that allows the trace of changes and the results of them on the system.

How Does Source Control Impact Configuration Management?

Source control affects each component of configuration management:

Source Control and Baseline Management

Source control facilitates baseline management as it:

  • Provides a unique identifier for each individually released component that can be tied to a unique and versioned release of the system
  • Allows the manufacturer to minimize conflicted versions in the field
  • Reduces manufacturer support needs due to a limited number of supported configurations
  • Allows the customer to have a specific version for testing with and validating fits their needs
  • Provides a clear path to newer versions for both the manufacturer and the customer
  • Facilitates baseline management by allowing a release process to be followed, reducing confusion and negating the additional cost that a non-existent release process creates

At Erdos Miller, we created an internal release process, tailored to ensure accurate and clean release products such as software source code, design drawings, and system documentation for individual customers that will bring all of the benefits to baseline management listed above.

Source Control and Interface Management

Source control facilitates and assists interface management, it:

  • Allows developers to collaborate easily by permitting interfaces to be managed in the same manner as any source or design file (interfaces are often negotiated and designed by technical experts with input from the customers) 
  • Allows an ease of collaboration and interaction, source control allows these experts to iterate on the interface designs until the needs of the system are met. This in turn allows the manufacturer to reduce cost to the customer.

Source Control and Change Control

Amidst the change control process, effective source control:

  • Allows the system to track changes to the interface(s) through the change control process
  • Facilitates change control by allowing the management to segregate and identify the changes that are requested by the customer compared to the changes needed by engineering decisions or system design limitations
  • Brings traceability that allows management to manage costs and charge customers appropriately
  • Handles products that the change control process manipulates

Source control certainly is not a wasted effort or an onerous burden only placed on engineers for history and change tracking purposes. It is an integral part of a larger process that assists the company in collaboration, cost reduction, and accountability – and ultimately, the health of your product versions and product lines.

Better Source Control = Better Configuration Management = Better Products

At Erdos Miller, we specialize in turnkey electronic system development and process control and automation. We solve quality, reliability, production, and cost issues in existing systems and create new, market-leading products and processes for industry challenges  and configuration management processes, specifically effective source control, is a key core foundation for these applications.

Many steps are taken from the time of the initial concept discussion until delivery of the final product. To ensure configuration management and source control receive the attention they warrant, Erdos Miller assigns the following to each of our projects:

  • Professional Project Management (to guarantee the project stays on schedule)
  • Technical Leadership (to guarantee technical needs are met through the project)
  • Client Relationship Management (to guarantee that our customer's needs are understood and translated into efficient and effective solutions)

For more about working with Erdos Miller, contact us today.