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Revision Control

Quick Definition

Revision control is the process of tracking and documenting changes to a product, part, process, program, design or document.

What is Revision Control?

Revision control, also known as version control or source code management, is a fundamental process that plays a pivotal role in various domains, including software development, product development, supply chain management (SCM), and engineering change order (ECO) workflows. It revolves around the systematic management of different versions of a product, source code, or bill of materials to maintain traceability, enable change management, and ensure functionality across the product lifecycle.

The Role of Revision Control

Revision control systems, such as Git, are essential for tracking changes made to a product or source code throughout its lifecycle. They provide a structured and organized approach to managing concurrent development processes, enabling multiple team members to collaborate efficiently and maintain a clear history of changes.

Version Control Software

Version control software is the cornerstone of revision control. It allows for the tracking and management of different versions, ensuring that specific revisions can be retrieved as needed. This functionality is particularly critical in software engineering, where code changes are frequent and often occur simultaneously across development teams.

Traceability and Change History

One of the core features of revision control is traceability. It ensures that the change history of a product, source code, or bill of materials is meticulously documented. This traceability is invaluable for understanding why specific revisions were made, who made them, and when they occurred. It also helps in identifying the impact of changes on functionality and project management.

Change Management and Iterations

In both software development and broader product development, iterations are common as products evolve and improve. Revision control facilitates change management by allowing teams to implement, test, and revert changes as necessary. This iterative approach helps refine functionality, address issues, and enhance the product.

Supply Chain and Configuration Management

Within the supply chain, revision control is essential for managing changes to a product's bill of materials (BOM) and ensuring that the correct components are used during manufacturing. Configuration management is an integral part of this process, as it ensures that each specific revision is correctly documented and used in production.

Integration with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Revision control is often integrated with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, providing a comprehensive approach to managing changes throughout a product's lifecycle. PLM systems help bridge the gap between design, development, project management, and pricing, enabling a holistic view of the product's evolution.

Automation and Workflow

Automation is a key element in revision control systems, as it streamlines the workflow for team members. Notifications about changes, automated testing, and concurrent development are made more efficient, allowing for faster product development and project management.

Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) and Project Management

In project management, ECOs are used to formalize and manage changes to a product's design or bill of materials. Revision control is crucial for tracking and documenting these changes, ensuring that they are implemented correctly and that their impact on functionality is understood.

Ensuring Functionality and Pricing

By maintaining control over different versions and tracking changes, revision control ensures that products retain their functionality and quality throughout their lifecycle. It also contributes to accurate pricing by providing transparency into the cost implications of specific revisions and changes.

In summary, revision control is a critical process that enables organizations to manage changes, maintain traceability, and ensure functionality throughout the product lifecycle. Whether applied in software development, supply chain management, or broader product development, revision control systems and version control software like Git play a pivotal role in maintaining order and efficiency in concurrent development processes.