Within the context of project management the purpose of Configuration Management is to identify, track and control the project`s products.

Configuration Management is not optional. If more than one version of a product has been created, then Configuration Management needs to be performed. It answers the question, "what is the current version of X". The only debate for a project is how formally it needs to be done.

The construction of a car is a good example of the need for Configuration Management. What components have to be brought together in order to assemble this version of the car? What about that recent change to the fascia and the redesigned windscreen wipers? How can the assemblers be sure that they have the correct components? The answer is from the records held by Configuration Management. If a replacement window winder for a five-year old model is needed, the car`s serial number in conjunction with the records kept by Configuration Management will ensure that the right one is supplied.

The job of Configuration Management is, therefore, to provide:

the mechanisms for managing, tracking and keeping control of a projects products. the ability to select and package the products which comprise the final working system.

On any project you need to go through the following steps:

1) Decide what is going to be configuration managed (version controlled)

2) Agree how you are going to do it (naming conventions, when something is version 1.0 etc.)

3) Write it into a project standards document, handbook or quality plan and create any templates etc.

4) Check periodically that the team are following the standards

Configuration Management is part of the Quality control of a project. Without it, managers have little or no control over the products being produced, for example, what their status is, where they are, whether they can be changed, what the latest version is.

25 January 2009 (5)