Configuration Management: Control Items & Procedures

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha has a Doctor of Education degree in math education and is currently working as a Information Technology Specialist.

Have you ever had to return a part that you purchased because it didn't fit as expected? In this lesson we'll learn about the components of configuration management - change control, version control, and configuration control - and how they impact product changes.

Configuration Management

Joe is the manager of an electrical manufacturing company. Recently they have been receiving numerous product returns for one of the connector kit parts on a popular water hose. It took a while for Joe to investigate and discover that there were a number of revisions made to the design that changed the configurations of the connector parts and the socket. However, the revisions were not properly tracked, and he found that the latest versions of the connector kit did not fit the water hose socket as it should have.

Configuration management is a component of project management that focuses on defining how to manage changes to product configuration. A configuration management plan defines (a) all configurable items, (b) all items that need changes, and (c) all processes that help manage the changes to the configurations.

A configuration includes the physical and functional specifications of a product. For the connector kit and water hose sockets, the configurations could include the temperature range, the shape of the connector and diameter of the socket. A configuration management plan helps track all hardware and compatibility between the different versions of the product so that it would be easy to identify what has been upgraded.

By defining a configuration management plan, Joe hopes to be able to document and audit all future changes made to the connector kits and sockets. This will ensure that when an item is shipped to a customer, the correct product can be shipped by matching the proper version for the socket and the kit.

Change Control

To begin with, Joe has to analyze change control requirements for the scope of the project. Change control will help track how changes to the specifications of the product are managed in terms of the scope of the work done and time and cost for the changes to be made. Change control would also require that (a) all proposed changes are properly reviewed, (b) the impact of changes is analyzed thoroughly, (c) the change is approved or rejected, and (d) all requests for changes and changes made are documented in detail.

Change control applies to all aspects of the project, including project scope, project schedule, and project cost. So, for example, when a change is suggested for the design of the connector product, the amount of work for the project, the project completion time, and the cost of the project should also be considered in addition to the actual changes that would need to be made to the product.

Change Control Impacts Project Time, Cost, and Work
Change control

Version Control

In the process of changing the actual product, the product design will go through a number of different iterations and version changes to match with the changing product specifications. Joe decides to implement a version control process within which each revision of the product will be recorded by a revision or version number. For example, if the first component in the change process is to add 2 mm to the diameter of the socket, the process implementing this change will say version or revision 1 to match the physical changes made to the product.

The benefits of version control include increased clarity and fewer errors because multiple versions of the product can be easily identified and the purpose for each version recognized. For increased accountability and readability, Joe suggests that version control should detail the purpose of the change, the date, and the name of person making the change in addition to the version number.

Configuration Control

Joe explains to his team that configuration control is where the actual changes to the product and the products deliverables are managed throughout the product's life cycle. Configuration control helps with (a) maintaining a record of all changes that are proposed, implemented and approved, (b) making sure that no changes are made to the product unless there is proper authorization, and (c) the most recent and approved version of the product is used.

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