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The Role of Configuration Management in Outsourcing and Distributed Development

Poster presenters: Lars Bendix, LU & Christian Pendleton, Softhouse

Abstract: The use of distributed development teams is becoming more common and for many good reasons. Some of the advantages are that it makes it possible to outsource parts of the development effort, gives access to a larger pool of talents and specialists, facilitates the integration of mergers and acquisitions, and allows for more flexibility in scaling up and down projects. However, distributed development also brings many new problems to be dealt with on a project. It is more complex to manage, tends to create silos between groups, and there is a risk for loss of control over remote groups or people. Traditionally Configuration Management is seen as the infrastructure that allows the co-ordination of the various activities on a project and it makes sure that work products flow smoothly through different stages of the development process.  

In this poster, we investigate to what degree Configuration Management concepts and principles can provide an infrastructure for distributed development teams too and help address some of their special challenges. We look at what challenges distributed development teams face and categorize them according to how closely related they are to the Configuration Management domain. We also sketch Configuration Management solutions to some of the related challenges. It turns out that surprisingly many distributed development challenges can be dealt with or made less problematic by simply applying well-known concepts and principles from Configuration Management. Furthermore, a number of other challenges can be alleviated by creative thinking in the implementation of Configuration Management and/or the collaboration between the Configuration Management activity and other activities.