Ah, configuration management! I confess that this wasn’t the most exciting of topics to study when I was preparing for my APMP exam recently but it is important if you want to keep your project organised. Here’s a refresher on how to do it.
Configuration management begins at the beginning of the project when you’re putting together you project management plan. Your configuration management plan is part of the project management plan (hopefully a relatively small and easy part, but not one that should be overlooked).
The config management process and approach is documented so that everyone knows what is happening and what is expected.
You’ll get your config approach approved by whoever needs to approve it – probably your Project Management Office. Show it to your project sponsor and they might not know what you are talking about; it’s one of the more ‘technical’ and jargon-laden parts of the job.
Next, Identify Config Items
Each item that needs configuration management is given a unique identifier so it can be tracked. Use the product breakdown structure if you have one because that’s already numbered and it saves you a job. Config items relate to project requirements. They can include:
You can prepare your traceability matrix at this point too.
The project manager is ultimately responsible for configuration management on the project but maintaining the traceability matrix and version control for the items can be done by someone else: your project support person or Project Management Office team maybe.
Control Your Records
Configuration records need to be tightly controlled to ensure there is a full audit trail between the original requirement and the final version.
This is done through version control. That’s not just version numbering on documents and making sure that others are locked out while you are editing them, but also physical security of the project’s assets.
This part of the process links closely to your change control process.
Status accounting is a term that doesn’t mean much outside of the world of config management – at least to me.
All it means is that you can see the status of any item whenever you want. That’s why your traceability matrix is important.
You should be able to see that an item is Open, Closed, In Progress, Checked Out (and to whom) or any other status that you’ve decided to give it.
Every time the item is changed or being worked on, the matrix should be updated so that it’s clear what is happening to the item. Then the latest version is logged too, so that you can always refer to the current version.
Configuration items are audited at their final point in the process to ensure that what was delivered meetings the original requirements, regardless of the iterations along the way.
Audits are done by an independent party outside of the immediate project team. This could be project assurance or an external body like the health and safety executive of the local council.
Generally this happens at the end of the project when you are closing it down and handing the deliverables over to the customer. Before it happens it’s wise to do your own checks so that you can be confident what the auditors will find!
That’s a quick tour through the project configuration management process. It helps you stay on top of a multitude of deliverables and ensures people don’t change things that they shouldn’t have access to, or without the knowledge of others.
It’s a good habit to get into but hopefully once you have written one config management plan you can use that as a template for future projects and you won’t have to write any more from scratch!