Project Management

Virtual Configuration Management

Kent Gladstone

Configuration  management (CM) is a key component of project management, giving the project manager a center of communication and a view of project status. Because CM allows the processes and the history of changes within a project to be electronically accessible, the project manager, whether leading a geographically dispersed team or a collocated team, can use CM to view the health of the project’s system. Unfortunately, when there is a need to make budget cuts, many project managers tend to drop configuration and quality management before considering alternatives. This problem was perhaps most evident during the Y2K effort and continues to be pervasive (Starbuck, 1999). Several studies show that the lack of CM significantly increases the risk of project failure (Weatherall, 2006).

Configuration management traditionally has three components: version control, change control and reports (audits), all of which include human interaction, documentation and the option to be stored digitally. The three components are managed and coordinated electronically with little human involvement except in entering and extracting information.

Most people mistake CM for an inventory system, but ideally it is a communication venue that enables the team to track each others’ work and to convey progress to the project manager. Figure 1 demonstrates how reports can show …

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