Organic CM: Introduction

In many organizations, Configuration Management (CM) seems to be implemented as ‘add-on’ tasks to an existing process.   Such an implementation makes the activity feel ‘artificial’ and creates conditions where its need is often questioned and seen as a necessary evil – to be avoided if possible or performed minimally if not. 

In order to remove this artificiality, we have developed the concept of “Organic Configuration Management” (Organic CM), which is the philosophy that configuration management should be implemented so that it occurs as a natural part of the day-to-day software development process.    This requires for CM activities to be so well integrated to tasks that it makes them ‘organic’.

One of the biggest issues with an artificial implementation is that ‘add-on’ activities will usually result in some delay – after all, a new step is being added into an existing process.    If there is also the need for a different team to perform the activity, then this delay can become non-trivial.    Coupled with the delay this creates the condition where performers are motivated to circumvent the activity as much as possible.

The philosophy of Organic CM rejects this sort of artificial implementation as being inherently antagonistic and inefficient.   There are many places in nature that are great examples of complex tasks being integrated into elegant solutions.    The stem provides a plant with support, fluid transport, and storage of nutrients.  These functions are integrated.  The cells that provide fluid transport also provide some support.  The cells that provide protection to the stem also allow fluid transport.  The plant does not grow a support structure, then grow the fluid transport structure in another place, then grow sacks for storing nutrients somewhere else, and so on.

It is the goal of organic configuration management to emulate this sort thing.  The surprising thing is that this is probably already happening in your organization, just unconsciously and in very limited circumstances.