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Key Configuration Management Activities in PMP

Configuration Management Activities

Configuration management is a critical discipline in project management that involves properly controlling, tracking, and managing changes to project documents, deliverables, and other components.

It provides visibility and ensures that only approved changes are implemented by formal change control procedures.

Configuration management activities play an important role throughout the entire project lifecycle, from planning to closure.

They help maintain the integrity of the products being developed and prevent scope creep and unintended changes.

Configuration Management Activities

There are four main configuration management activities as outlined by the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam:

  • Configuration identification
  • Configuration change control
  • Configuration status accounting
  • Configuration verification and audits

Implementing robust processes for each of these activities throughout the project lifecycle is key for maintaining visibility and control. In this post, we will explore what is involved in each of the configuration management activities and why they are important for project managers to master. Understanding configuration management best practices will allow you to properly manage changes, prevent scope creep, and deliver projects successfully.

4 Configuration Management Activities Explained in detail

Configuration identification

Configuration identification is the first step in establishing configuration management on a project. It involves defining the items that will be placed under configuration control.

Some examples of configuration items include:

  • Product deliverables – such as software code, design documents, plans, etc.
  • Product components – like modules, libraries, executables, etc. in software projects
  • Contracts, statements of work, requirements documents
  • Policies, plans, procedures
  • Tools, infrastructure, hardware
  • Tests, test data, simulations

The project team analyzes the deliverables and documents produced during the project to determine which items need to be tracked and controlled. Unique identifiers are then assigned to each configuration item (CI) to label and reference them.

Common naming conventions include using sequential numbers, codes based on the WBS structure, or source control revision numbers. A configuration management database (CMDB) is used to store the CI details including name, version, description, status, etc.

Defining the configuration items is crucial for understanding the scope under configuration management. It allows the team to efficiently track changes, perform audits, and roll back if needed. Only items designated as CIs will follow the rigorous change control and baseline management processes.

Configuration Change Control

Configuration change control involves having a formal process to manage changes to configuration items in a controlled manner. This ensures only approved changes are implemented.

The change control process includes the following steps:

  • Change request submission – All changes to CIs must be submitted via change requests that document what is changing, justification, and impact of the change.
  • Change request evaluation – Each CR is assessed to determine technical feasibility, effect on other CIs, alignment with requirements, and overall impact on schedule, cost, and quality.
  • Change approval/rejection – A change control board reviews each change request and votes to approve or reject it based on the evaluation. Rejection decisions must be justified.
  • Change implementation – Once approved, changes are made following proper procedures. Development and test processes are followed.
  • Documentation updates – All CIs and project documents affected by the change are updated. The change request is updated with implementation details.
  • Verification – Configuration audits are conducted to validate successful and accurate implementation of changes.

Proper change control ensures changes are thoroughly considered, tracked, and implemented in a controlled fashion. It prevents scope creep, unauthorized changes, and unintended impacts. Following a standardized process maintains integrity and traceability.

Configuration Status Accounting

Configuration status accounting involves tracking and reporting on the status of configuration items throughout the project lifecycle. The goal is to maintain accurate records and details about each CI.

A configuration management database (CMDB) is used to store configuration records for each item. Details include:

  • Item name/identifier
  • Version number
  • Description
  • Status (development, testing, production, retired)
  • Changes made
  • Change History
  • Relationships and dependencies
  • Owner, approvers
  • Storage location
  • Baselines associated

Keeping this information up-to-date ensures the team understands exactly what state the project is in and what changes have occurred. Status accounting also aids things like audits, release planning, and rollbacks.

Status reporting is done regularly, both formally and informally:

  • Status reviews at change control board meetings
  • Regular automated reports from the CMDB
  • Real-time dashboard or portal views of CI status
  • Direct requests to the CMDB for status checks

Accurate configuration status accounting provides crucial visibility and traceability. It ensures alignment and prevents misunderstandings about CI status.

Configuration Verification and Audits

Configuration verification and audits involve checking configuration items to ensure accuracy and alignment with project plans. Both formal and informal reviews are conducted:

Formal Audits

  • Functional configuration audits – Verify that a CI’s design is aligned with requirements. Done at major milestones.
  • Physical configuration audits – Verify that versions and configuration documentation match the actual physical configuration. Done before major releases.
  • In-depth audits – Validate CIs against test baselines and configuration documentation. Trace changes end-to-end.

Informal Verification

  • Peer reviews of configuration items and documentation
  • Spot checks of baselines, documentation, and physical configurations
  • Sample testing to check for consistency and accuracy

Any discrepancies found during verification are logged and change requests are submitted to correct them.

Verification ensures that:

  • Product configurations match documented descriptions
  • Documentation matches actual product specifications
  • CIs are consistent with each other and overall project baselines
  • No unauthorized or untracked changes have occurred

Regular audits provide assurance that configuration integrity is maintained throughout the project. They validate that robust processes are being followed.


Version Control Systems

Version control systems help manage changes to source code and other collections of files. They maintain a history of changes so you can track revisions and roll back if needed.

  • Git – An open-source distributed version control system created by Linus Torvalds. Allows teams to collaboratively work on projects and maintain a central repository.
  • Subversion – An open-source centralized version control tool. Stores file changes on a central server and allows collaborators to check out files and commit changes.
  • CVS – A legacy open-source version control system. Was very popular but has been largely superseded by Git and Subversion.

Project Management & Issue Tracking Tools

Project management tools help track issues, tasks, and requests. Many include change management capabilities.

  • JIRA – A widely used issue-tracking tool that allows teams to track change requests, releases, and agile development.
  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server – Provides integrated version control, issue tracking, build automation, and reporting.
  • ServiceNow – An IT service management tool with capabilities for change management and configuration control.

Infrastructure as Code Tools

IaC tools help automate infrastructure and app configuration, provisioning, and deployment.

  • Ansible – A simple automation framework to configure systems, deploy software, and orchestrate IT processes.
  • Chef – A framework for automating infrastructure, deployments, and configurations using Ruby code.
  • Puppet – A configuration management tool that uses Puppet declarative language to define system state.
  • SaltStack – Infrastructure automation and configuration management using Python for remote execution.

Auditing and Compliance Tools

These tools track configurations and changes to ensure compliance.

  • AWS Config – Monitors AWS resource configurations for compliance with rules and best practices.
  • Octopus Deploy – Automates consistent deployments and provides auditing for .NET applications.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. What is configuration management?

    Configuration management refers to the processes for controlling, tracking, and managing changes to project documents, code, infrastructure, and other items during the project lifecycle.

  2. Why is configuration management important?
    Configuration management is crucial for maintaining the integrity of products, preventing unintended changes, providing visibility into project status, and ensuring only approved changes are implemented.
  3. What are the main configuration management activities?
    The four key configuration management activities are configuration identification, change control, status accounting, and configuration verification and audits.
  4. What gets identified as a configuration item (CI)?
    Anything that needs to be managed and controlled including code, deliverables, documents, infrastructure, tests, and requirements. Unique IDs are assigned to label and track CIs.
  5. How does change control work?
    Change control involves a standardized process of change request submission, impact analysis, approval/rejection, implementation, and verification for any changes to configuration items.
  6. What is configuration status accounting?
    Regularly tracking and reporting on CI details like version, status, changes made, and relationships. Maintains visibility into project status.
  7. What happens during configuration audits?
    Audits verify CIs and documentation match, requirements are fulfilled, and proper processes are being followed through formal functional and physical audits.


Related Certification: PMP certification

Also check: PMP Formulas
Also read: 49 Processes of PMP

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