‘There must be commitment from senior management to achieve higher quality and better control.’

His aim is to make software configuration management (SCM) a success mantra among companies worldwide. He is David Parker, Director, PVCS, Merant, Asia, the key player behind expanding the company’s presence in Japan–which today accounts for 10% of Merant’s total revenue. A Master in International Management, Parker is responsible for the company’s marketing operations in Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.


In an interview to DQ, Parker talks about PVCS, Merant’s SCM software. The product today boasts of a user base of 500,000 in around 25,000 sites. In India too, the company has bagged clients like TCS, Wipro and
Infosys. 


  • How will you define SCM?
    Till a few years ago, SCM was just a means of controlling changes to the source code. Tools like SCCS and RCS under UNIX were created for this purpose, but their functionality was limited. Eventually, the ability to label revisions, compress deltas, handle binary file types and enhance security levels was added, and in this way the source control turned into version control. And as developers realized the need to track more than just changes to the source code, SCM evolved into a more comprehensive process. Today, it includes diverse–but related–features as build management, issue management, release management and process management. The ability to identify components, recreate deliverables, monitor problems, change requirements, and consistently deliver a product of high quality is the current goal of
    SCM.


  • What is the key to successful implementation of an SCM process? Is it planning and setting up of pre-defined objectives or something else?
    We have seen a number of critical factors that go in the successful implementation of SCM solutions. Things like the maturity of an organization, the technical environment and the skill levels of the individuals all play an important role in implementation. But, in larger implementations of SCM, the common critical success factor is management commitment. There must be commitment from senior management to achieve higher quality and better control. Without their commitment, success tends to be limited.


  • l Can SCM tools be integrated with other software engineering tools like defect tracking etc?
    Merant regards defect tracking as a critical part of SCM and not as a separate tool. While establishing an SCM infrastructure, companies should consider version management, issue management–sometimes referred to as defect tracking–build management and process control. 


  • What made Merant look at India? Was it a pull or a push factor?
    Requirement and potential are two sides of the same coin. Indeed the IT industry in India has made quantum leaps in maturity, to the point that the country’s software engineering capabilities are respected around the world. As the industry has matured so has the commitment to quality. 


  • What gives PVCS the competitive edge?
    Control, coordination and quality. People buy our products for these three reasons. They want to control their application development and control access to their software assets. They want to coordinate the development key. They want to coordinate internally, that is, if they have ten developers working on a project then we coordinate those guys so that they don’t always step on each other’s toes. Then, it is not just the need for internal coordination but also on the side across the street, may be there are customers in San Francisco. Third is quality. In order to have quality you have to have process. You have to put things in place to have repeatable application development.


  • How would you assess the market potential for SCM tools in the country, as well as the world over?
    Worldwide, the SCM market is growing at a rate of over 30% annually. We expect that as companies begin introducing traditional SCM concepts in web development projects, demand will accelerate. Although no studies have been done–at least to my knowledge on the SCM market in India–I believe that given the dynamics of the market, growth is significantly higher than 30%. Certainly, we are experiencing growth in excess of 30% in India. Growth is probably closer to 70% for us.


  • What is your client profile in India? Is there any particular segment that you are focusing on?
    There are already a large number of companies using PVCS products in India and the list is growing. There really is no particular industry bias in the use of tools. All the users share in common a strong commitment to quality application development.


  • So which organizations would typically buy your product?
    So far, we have had our biggest success with corporate IT, banks and the manufacturing organizations, rather than software companies. However, in India we have had a better success rate with software houses than with corporates. Prominent ones include Tata Infotech, Infosys, Cisco Systems and Cognizant Technology. HCL Infosystems has standardized its entire software development on PVCS. I don’t really know why. Could be that software companies are much more mature in development practices. 


  • Software product development for the global market is still a relatively new concept in India. Does this pose any challenge?
    Indian IT industry is today witnessing a transition from low-cost ‘body-shopping’ engineering to value-added software engineering services. And this can be seen in the kinds of projects companies like HCL and TIL are winning today. It certainly bodes well for the future. The challenge will be to successfully develop and market commercially packaged applications in the world market. The key challenge will not be engineering of these applications but marketing them in North America and Europe.


  • Where do you see India on the Asian map, especially in comparison to China?
    Compared to China, India has both advantages as well as some disadvantages. On the plus side, Indian software engineering talent is world class and relatively inexpensive. English is a widely spoken language, which helps in communicating with American and other clients in the West. Another key advantage, especially over China, is generally political freedom and specifically, unrestricted access to the internet. The challenges are primarily related to infrastructure.

    Difficulties in telecommunications, power and other infrastructure are posing challenges to the IT industry, and in this sphere, I believe China has an advantage.


  • What are your revenue targets for the year?
    Our target for the first fiscal year of operations in India, ending April 30, 2000, was $1 million. And we believe that we will achieve and possibly exceed our targets. We have not yet set targets for the next fiscal, but they surely will be in line with global and local growth projections in the SCM market. 


MANISHA SINGH
in New Delh 

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