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PMBOK Configuration Management

Right, so if configuration management is a mystery wrapped in an enigma sit back and listen I’m about to tell you exactly what it is and frankly if you remember whenever I mentioned the term configuration management you think version control you won’t be far from the truth

Let’s have a look first, do you remember when we looked at perform integrated change control one of the tools was change control tools

I’m suggesting here that the configuration management process that’s implemented on your project along with other things such as templates is in fact one of the change control tools

Indeed, I would say that configuration management is mandatory on every project it needs to be done in some way or another. if you’re a small family car repair shop in your neighbourhood you would want to have reference to all the service manuals of cars that come in.

You’d want to keep records of what work you’ve done on what cars and when you’d want information on the types and models of the various replacement parts that you order and so on and so forth.

At its minimum configuration management system for a small family shop or business might be a filing cabinet in the corner and the top drawer contains rep all those references

I’ve just mentioned so configuration management contains the processes and procedures that support integrated change control it covers all controlled project items and that means documentation like management documents.

Certainly, the project management plan as well as the products within the project go back to our friend the change request

I want to show you how the configuration management and change requests are very closely related to each other in fact change requests I would say is a subset of configuration management.

Do you remember there was a configuration management plan well as part of that plan it should lay out exactly how change requests should be managed so I’m suggesting here whenever a change request is raised?

Forget for a moment about the processes that we’ve been looking at within the PMBOK guide just think about this as being a system you would want to enter an update configuration management records whenever a change request is raised.

Assess the impact of the change against the configuration management baselines as part of the change control process would either accept or otherwise and in any case, update the configuration management if that makes good sense.
If the answer’s no, inform those involved and the answer is take no action.

Can you see how this is very closely aligned to the previous slides when I told you exactly how change control should work.

But now of course what we’re saying is configuration management records play a key role in how that data is captured and updated hence being a tool for perform integrated change control.

If the answer is yes, you still need to inform the person who raised it in the first-place update plans of course and then implement the change and then update the baselines where the baseline stored in your configuration management system

Don’t worry I’m about to tell you what we mean by that and what sort of actions are necessary

So, configuration management identifying the characteristics of the products and components and controlling and documenting changes to verify that requirements are met therefore this is a tool

So, one of the activities well some large words coming up here but don’t worry about it configuration identification for each product management or specialist product a record is raised called a configuration item record

Much like you having a birth certificate when you were born giving information of your mother and father date of birth so on one for each project product

But this configuration item record is more than just a birth certificate remember as you’ve gone through life you’ve gathered other records from local authorities like records your employment records and so on and so forth all of this goes into a configuration item record

So, it tells the history of each individual product and it forms a part of the configuration management library it describes the characteristics of the product in a clear accurate and complete manner

It’s used as a baseline reference against which to verify when changes are made and how they’re managed

Let’s just pause for a moment in case you think I’m just talking about a bureaucratic system let me think up a few horror stories that might ring bells with you or at least are the folks that you know that have had similar problems

Imagine you’re an engineer working on a product – and you’ve gone to someone and ask, “have you got the specification document for this so that I can build it?”

Let’s call it a widget for the one of a better word you want to build a widget can you give you the specification or even a plan or dimensions if it’s a physical thing and they give you a piece of paper saying here it is

And you go away and you spend two months creating it only to find later but they gave you an old version and you’ve just wasted two or three months of time and you’re now well behind schedule

Not a good situation to be in configuration management will have been the place to have asked that question and they would know absolutely what the latest version is because of course they do version control

What if you see a group of fellow engineers modifying an existing product who gave them permission should they be modifying it again I’m not talking about being a whistle blower here but merely the configuration management helps control whether changes should be made or otherwise

How about this one, what if an engineer comes to you the project manager and says have you got a copy of the specification document for Product X and you go yes, I know who did it Mike did it go and see Mike and he’ll give you a copy of it

And you go to Mike’s desk I need to be told that Mike has left the company several months ago and his desk was cleared out and they have no idea where the specification for Product X has gone

Could you see what a crisis that could cause in your project I’m sure you can so back to today and here we are configuration identification

Would you agree that having a configuration item record showing the latest data for every single product would be an absolute lifesaver in those horror stories I’ve just invented although I say invent I’ve seen a few of them happen in my real-world

Configuration Management Status Accounting

Configuration status accounting another highfalutin name but basically, it’s again to do with the configuration item record it shows the true status for every product including:

Any changes that it’s gone through

Showing how the product was updated
and documenting and storing the information needed to manage the product information

So, there’s two valuable services I don’t think you’d agree continuing configuration verification and auditing another bunch of words

But think about this configuration management as a service performed these audits

Configuration management will perform these audits usually upon request from a project manager to determine if the functional requirements have been met

It’s a safety net and you shouldn’t feel threatened by this at the end of a phase calling for configuration management to do an audit to check that all the products that you’ve created within that phase, are indeed complete

They might find out that one of them isn’t

Wouldn’t it be better for find that out so you can fix it rather than then go on to the next stage only to find that you’re in deep trouble?

They confirm the true state information by comparing what the records say I’m comparing it to the actual status so I think this is a great service it should be done with a smile on everyone’s face

Because if they find out something that you’ve forgotten I’d shake them by the hand and thank them because I can quickly fix that rather than carry on further and it turned into a real crisis

So, what’s the purpose of having a configuration management system

Well they’re documented procedures that describe the processes for submitted change requests, tracking changes processes for definition of approval levels

Who can approve or deny any such changes the process for authorizing the changes

Remember we had organizational process assets this might be one of them and the change control system along with templates and guidance and the purpose is to describe product characteristics along with its status

So, will you be asked to have any more detailed information on configuration management

No and I hope the last three slides have taken away any fear of that long awful sounding phrase configuration management and to see that you really should on the or current and future projects make sure that configuration management is applied in the most appropriate way on all your projects

And, I’d like to close by saying that change control how it works and the perform integrated change control process within the PMBOK guide should be closely aligned for this and indeed this should be seen along with change control and its processes as important

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