A configuration management system is a set of good working practices for dealing with initial design and subsequent changes to the products to be delivered by the project.
Configuration Management is about document the components of a product and the connection between them. A Configuration Management System ensures that if a project considers changing one component, impact on other components is considered.
Configuration Management is closely linked to Change Control.
Five aspects of the Configuration Management System are:
1. Planning – deciding what level of Configuration Management will be required by the project and planning how this level will be achieved. A Configuration Management Plan should describe any project specific procedures and the extent of their application during the lifecycle of the project. The plan should also identify roles and responsibilities for carrying out Configuration Management.
2. Identification –specifying and identifying all components of the final product. Scope Management and the Product Breakdown Structure is a key component to the cataloguing because each component and sub component has a unique number. This will also allow identification of where the components fit and how it may interact with other components. The products classified in this way as referred to as configuration items. Baselines will be established and only Change Control can alter the original baseline.
3. Control – ensures that all changes to configuration items are controlled. An important aspect is being able to identify the interrelationships between the configuration items. Configuration Control is aligned to Change Control. What it adds is an administrative backbone that ensures that the elements of change control have the desired effect.
Typical steps in the Configuration control process are:
a. Registration – where a Change Request is received, it must be registered. Registration information is stored in the configuration file.
b. Assessment – the assessment of the proposed change must be done using the current baseline for the item. The time, cost, scope and quality and risk impact of the requested change will be considered.
c. Inform Requester – of the decision.
d. Implement – The Configuration Management file must be updated with a summary of the implementation of the change. Detailed information will be in the updated plans. All interested parties will be informed.
e. Amend Baseline – Finally when the revised configuration item is completed and authorised, it becomes the new baselined version.
Further Change Requests will trigger the process again.
4. Status Accounting – provides records and reports that relate to a deliverable and its configuration information during the lifecycle of the project. This enables the tracking of modifications to configuration items. A status report will typically be requested to coincide with a key reporting of decision point of a project stage.
5. Audit – A key component of configuration management. It is carried out at regular pre-determined stages to ensure that all the planned configuration items re where they should be in terms of lifecycle and that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that all the change configuration and testing processes have been completed. Audits are carried out by the project assurance team.