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Choosing a CM Solution: Where to Begin?

When I was a boy on the farm, I dreamed of many things: fanciful go-carts, hidden rooms in the hay stack, trips to the moon, robots that could walk and talk, to name a few. For some of those things, I knew enough to turn the dreams into reality. For others, I didn't know where to begin and so those dreams remained mere dreams or, if I did begin, my efforts came up short.

Perhaps you have a similar problem with your version control solution. Perhaps you dream of some improvements, but don't have the knowledge or experience to turn those dreams into reality. You want improvement, but are not sure in which direction improvement lies, or even what real improvement looks like. If this describes you, then read on.


The conventional wisdom for improving your version control solution says to define the process you want to use, then find one or more tools to help you implement your process. This process-first approach works if you have the expertise to define and deploy an appropriate process, or are willing to both hire and implement the recommendations of an expert consultant.

The opposite approach is to adopt a tool first (usually what everyone else is using), and then work with what it can do.

The process-first approach avoids tool biases, but all too often leads to implementation of a home-grown solution because "none of the tools meet our process". This is seldom a wise course of action. It can also be costly if it requires custom modification of stock tools to fit the process. This approach can also be dangerous if the new process is radically different from what you are doing. It's better to make incremental process improvements, proving their value along the way, than to go for broke, as the more you try to change at once, the less likely you are to really understand what you need and succeed in getting there.

Of course, selecting a tool without some understanding your needs and willingness to change is equally dangerous.


The approach we recommend is a hybrid of the two extremes. By understanding several tool models with their strengths and their limitations, you will more quickly understand your existing process and the improvements you might be able to easily adopt. Be careful to not be too ambitious here. We've seen many groups attempt too much and totally fail.

And once you've understood several tool models and your own practices, we recommend you look for specific new features you reasonably expect to be able to use in a few weeks or months. Do this, and you quickly will narrow the field to one or more tools worth your consideration. Also, the early successful introduction of new capabilities will build enthusiasm for additional improvements.

In summary, we recommend that you use the marketplace to educate you about both theory and practice, then based on what you've learned, understand your own practices. And finally, choose the tool best meeting your current and immediately anticipated needs.

As you consider changing CM tools, here are some additional thoughts for your consideration:

The version control solutions in the marketplace today vary greatly in their capabilities, growth potential, and cost. We are happy to help you find a solution to meet your needs. We offer a free needs analysis consultation after which we will show you how SnapshotCM can meet your needs. And if it is not a good fit for you, we will suggest other tools you should look at. Our one hour consultation is a free service to help you make a wise version control choice. Contact us today!

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