What is Revision Control?
October 13, 2022 — Liz MolliHead of Communications
Revision control is the method for managing the change history during the software and hardware development process and throughout the product’s lifecycle.
When it comes to enterprise software development, “one and done” has no place in the vocabulary. Once a product launches, modifications over time can run the gamut from things like source code and documentation on the software side to hardware components and firmware on the hardware side.
When software is in development, revision control allows multiple people to work on the same sections of a project without the changes overwriting the work of someone else. The revisions are collected and stored in a repository. This provides a sequential record of every change that was made so project managers and software engineers are able to return all or part of the project to an earlier state. Not only does revision control allow companies to track the evolution of a product, it can also be used to support the specific revision that is shipped to customers. It’s a methodical, efficient approach to software engineering that eliminates errors, lowers risks, and improves the overall quality throughout the complete lifecycle of the product.
Hardware also evolves over time, with faster, lower-priced and higher performing SKUs released on a regular cadence, while older components are sunsetted. Revision control for your hardware systems is imperative to software/hardware compatibility along with the supporting systems and drivers that optimize the software’s performance. Once the verification testing is complete, locking down the approved latest version is a critical step in the revision control process.
Importance and Benefits of Revision Control
A deliberate revision control process can bring your organization distinct benefits. It can help you collaborate better, track progress, categorize different versions of the product, recover earlier software versions, and much more.
- Record History – Record keeping is possible through revision control. This is important because the actions and users can be tracked through it. It tracks the history and evolution of the product and you’ll have a record for every change – who made it, when they made it, why it was made, and what the exact change was. In many cases, developers need to know every detail about the products they have deployed in the field in case an update is needed or a bug needs to be fixed. In addition, in heavily regulated industries such as the medical field, thorough tracking is not only beneficial, it’s typically required.
- Team Collaboration – When you have a team of people working on a product, revision control makes collaboration easier. An example would include when multiple members of the team make potentially incompatible changes at roughly the same time. Revision control allows you to recognize and fix those conflicts. From the hardware perspective, developers work directly with their platform engineer to verify hardware/software compatibility in conjunction with the change, and any drivers that need to be updated are identified, completed and tested.
- Change Management – This is important because once both parties sign off on any revision, the version is locked down and no further changes can be made. This is integral for industries with strict regulatory compliance, like the medical industry. It reduces risk and makes the management of changes much more efficient and traceable.
- Quality Control – Revision control processes put the right tools and transparency in place to plan, manage, deploy, and support hardware solutions. During the configuration process in manufacturing, revision control alleviates configuring hardware with the wrong software version so orders will be deployed correctly.
How MBX Handles Revision Control
The Engineering Change Management feature in MBX Hatch™ hardware supply chain toolset is the ideal way to manage revision control. Hatch maintains a digital paper trail for every product change throughout its evolution pertaining to both software and hardware. Records are stored in a single location to provide clear traceability and accountability and eliminate gaps in data. Hatch shows the revision workflow including the description of the change, due date, status and review/approval for open and closed change orders. Hatch users can create, view, subscribe to and sign off on engineering change orders in progress.
To learn more about how MBX and our Hatch toolset provides a full-service, transparent hardware program, from hardware engineering, lifecycle management and manufacturing through global logistics and support, contact us!