What is Configuration Management in Project Management?
A configuration is the set of characteristics that define a final product or deliverable. This includes all functional and physical specifications. Physical specifications may include the color, size, weight, shape, and materials. Functional specifications dictate the ability of the product to achieve a certain outcome. Take a car for example: Physical specs may call for a red, four-door vehicle. Functional specs could include the ability to reach 60 mph in 10 seconds and meet emissions standards.
What is project configuration management?
Project configuration management is managing the configuration of all the project’s key products and assets. This includes any end products that will be delivered to the customer, as well as all management products, such as the project management plan and performance management baseline. Implementation of configuration management and project change management need to happen hand-in-hand. Any change must be monitored and assessed to determine its impact on project configuration. The two processes are so interrelated that project configuration management has been said to be “like change management on steroids.”
Five steps of the configuration management process
There are five key steps to project configuration management:
- Planning: A configuration management plan details how you will record, track, control, and audit configuration. This document is often part of the project quality management plan.
- Identification: All configuration requirements on a project should be identified and recorded. This includes functionality requirements, design requirements, and any other specifications. The completion of this process results in the configuration baseline for the project.
- Control: As the project scope is altered, the impact on the configuration must be assessed, approved, and documented. This is normally done within the project change control process.
- Status accounting: Track your project’s configuration at all times. You should be able to tell your configuration's version and have a historical record of the old versions. It’s crucial to have an account of all versions so you can trace changes throughout the project.
- Audit: This includes any tests to prove that the product conforms with the configuration requirements. Let’s say you built a report that must run within 10 seconds. The audit tests to see if the finished report actually runs that fast. Often, audits and checks will be built in at the completion of major project phases. This is so you can identify issues early.
The key difference to configuration management for Agile projects is in the identification step. Using Agile, the initial identification of specifications will be very general. It will be modified and updated frequently as the project progresses.
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