HM Customs & Excise (HMRC)

HM Revenu&Customs

Configuration Management Consultant

Andrew’s services were engaged to take over from, and act as a direct replacement for, a Merant staff consultant. Andrew was initially the sole point of reference for Dimensions expertise within HM Customs & Excise and reported direct to the Configuration Manager, the only other person in the department with any significant experience of configuration management. The services of two additional consultants were later engaged on Andrew’s recommendation. The aim was to role out both configuration management (to ITIL standards) and Merant Dimensions 8 to approximately 500 users, migrating their CIs from VSS and SCCS (in excess of 100 databases) and introducing ITIL best practice to all areas. Andrew’s role was to kick-start the exercise within H M Customs & Excise whilst simultaneously training, and ultimately handing over to, a member of their permanent staff.

Andrew’s first tasks were to build new Windows and Solaris servers and install and configure Oracle 9i, Merant Dimensions 8, Tomcat web services and FlexLM on them. HM Customs & Excise Dimensions 8 installation is unusual in that separate and distributed servers are employed for every sub-component of the system, and because of this Andrew was able to assist Merant in correcting many errors in their installation documentation. Having successfully built the servers, Andrew was then asked to integrate additional functionality in the form of WebDav, Test Director and Borland Together (ES7) with Dimensions. These attempts initially failed due to product defects that Andrew identified in testing and lodged reports with Merant for fixes to be provided in the next patch release. Andrew was however successful in integrating BEA WebLogic with Dimensions through the SCC interface, and also took on Merant’s newly-developed XML Migration Utility (a tool generally only made available to Merant’s in-house consultants due to its complexity) to migrate items from VSS / SCCS into Dimensions, via PVCS Version Manager. Using tools of his own design and development, and marketed and supported by his own company, Andrew then bulk-migrated a further 250,000 CIs held outside of any version management system into Dimensions.

In order to be able to hold and manipulate these items in Dimensions, Andrew had first defined and configured file formats, MIME types, item types and item lifecycles. He also defined and configured various change request (CR) types, supporting processes and attributes plus state-transition rules. Andrew also programmed triggers (event callouts) in C as required to support required functionality not available as standard within Dimensions.

Andrew prepared and presented a demonstration and workshop to 20+ business users and, combined with the configuration manager’s requirements, developed the change processes from there. These comprised a hierarchy from a Business Change Request through Work Packages right down to Software Change Requests and Document Change Requests. Andrew then developed further CRs to cover Risk & Issue Management and Defect Tracking, all within Dimensions.

Andrew also prepared and presented a second, more technical, demonstration and workshop to environment and service managers showing how their requirements to control both hardware and COTS could be handled through good CM within Dimensions.

After first devising and circulating a survey to establish requirements, Andrew prepared and presented a basic CM & Dimensions training course. This was designed in a modular manner covering everything from a CM Overview through separate modules for Version Management and Change Management. In this way users could select just the training they required. After subsequently allowing them a period of usage and product familiarisation, Andrew then liaised with the programmers and assisted them in preparing a strategy for parallel development to meet H M Customs & Excise specific needs. Andrew tested this and subsequently prepared and presented a further training course on parallel development strategies and conflict resolution using PVCS Project Compare and PVCS Project Merge.

Andrew produced extensive documentation in the form of system administration procedures, support procedures and user guides. He then implemented a Dimensions product to facilitate CM Support. He used it to both publish the documentation he had written, and further developed a number of CRs to run within it for users to lodge requests for support and system changes, e.g. role allocations. Andrew developed bug-tracking systems (using Dimensions CRs) for use by in-house development teams.

Andrew also designed a checklist to ensure that tasks were performed in sequence by H M Customs & Excise staff when migrating user groups into Dimensions and that nothing was missed. These same checklists also served to collect actuals for effort expended and so facilitated planning and budget control.

Keywords

Serena ChangeMan Dimensions 8, Merant Dimensions 8, Visual Source Safe (VSS), SCCS. Triggers, Event callouts. SCM, Software Configuration Management, Version Management, ITIL, Change Management, Risk & Issue Management, Defect Tracking, parallel development, conflict resolution, PVCS Project Compare, PVCS Project Merge, prepare training, present training, demonstration, workshop. Windows, NT, Solaris, Oracle 9i, WebDav, Test Director, Borland Together, ES7. SCC, MIME, COTS. Support documentation and procedures, bug-tracking system. Actuals, planning, budget.

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