Project Schedule Configuration Management Policies

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

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

In this lesson we will learn about software configuration management, as a technical support function to ensure that changes made to the application software are controlled through baseline configurations, performance measures and change control.

Configuration Management

Bill is the systems engineer for a marine manufacturing company and is responsible for the maintenance and monitoring of all software application systems and management tools installed on the vessels. His responsibility also includes configuration management, which means he has to establish processes for ensuring the consistency and performance of products, analyze physical and functional requirements, and monitor the design and operations of the product through its life cycle. Currently, Bill is working on a project that requires him to manage the configuration for the ships software navigation application.

Purpose of Software Configuration Management (SCM)

Through the SCM process, Bill's goal is to ensure that the integrity of the application is maintained, and that any changes to the configurations of the software can be traced through its lifecycle from beginning to end. Bill explained to his team of experts that SCM is different from support--support is about activities that happen after the final version of the software is made operational, while SCM includes the entire software life cycle including tracking the changes made to the software through version changes.

Change Control

A software application is written and executed to serve a specific purpose, in this case it's for the ship's navigation system, some of its functions include calculating the ship's geographical position and providing directions. The product requirement for the software can change due to a number of reasons:

  • To match functionality offered by competitors: In this case Bill learned that one of the competing vendors was offering a functionality that would help calculate the velocity of the ship, which is the direction and speed of movement
  • Customers demand for improvements: The captain of the ship had requested a feature to include the estimated time of arrival, which the current version of he application did not provide

Before implementing the changes, however, Bill had to ensure that there were no budgetary constraints that would cause revision to the application to be delayed, or any organizational changes that would be impacted by changes to the design of the application. Bill would need to implement a change control process where all changes are properly documented, no services are disrupted, and all available resources are used effectively.

Configuration Baseline

A baseline is a set of specifications that have been reviewed and accepted as required for the basic functionality of the software. Changes to the configuration baseline isn't recommended, and if needed, would require formalized change control procedures. The set of specifications defined in the baseline helps Bill determine points of departure from the basic functions, and also helps to control new changes without negatively impacting the implementation of new changes.

Bill discussed with this team that an important function of the baseline is to record approved methods and functions that are present when the system is stable, and to ensure that a consistent and stable state is attained through future revisions of the software.

Measure Performance and Monitor Changes

In order to properly manage the software configuration management for the navigation software, including measuring performance and monitoring changes, Bill educated his team about some of the policies that would need to be implemented.

SCM for Improved Software Performance
SCM for Improved Performance

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