Chapter 2—Configuration Management Planning – Practice Standard for Project Configuration Management

Chapter 2

Configuration Management Planning

As with all planning processes described in the PMBOK® Guide–Third Edition, the Configuration Management (CM) Planning Process plans all aspects of PCM. This chapter describes considerations for planning and managing PCM. It explains the context of PCM and the relationship with good CM practices. It also highlights how vital communication of PCM is and provides descriptions of the human and system interfaces for CM. It includes the following major sections:

2.1 Overview
2.2 Organization
2.3 Communications
2.4 Training
2.5 CM and PCM

2.1 Overview

The PMBOK® Guide–Third Edition identifies tools which are used to successfully accomplish a project. The tools (such as the project charter, project baseline, and project change control log) provide a basis for, and a record of, the project’s performance in meeting the scope, time, cost, and quality. They identify and provide for impact assessment of changes to the planned scope, schedule, and budget as the project progresses. The tools promote communications to ensure that the project outcome meets stakeholders’ needs.

CM is a discipline that helps ensure that the post-project functionality is planned and documented. PCM requirements vary by project from minimal efforts to the prime purpose of a project. For example:

  • An increase to the authorized speed limit on a local highway requires a project to replace ten speed-limit sign faces. The CM effort may be limited to identifying the sign faces that require replacement and updating the sign inventory to reflect the change.
  • The owner of a new car wash requires a project to build the facility. The CM effort may include developing a master equipment list identifying each physical component in the facility (including parts identification, approved suppliers, maintenance requirements and schedules, and maintenance history), as well as managing the development of the facility.
  • Changes in consumer eating-habits require a project to develop a new capability to constantly allocate/reallocate the shelf, refrigerator, and freezer space. The CM effort may include planning for and providing automated tracking systems that integrate and optimize product sales and inventory with available space to showcase the product.

Figure 2-1 illustrates relationships among project and deliverable configuration items (CIs).

For a self-contained project with no clients (i.e., contributors or users of the application and deliverables or items resulting from the project), CM may be a subset of the project management plan.

2.2 Organization

A project is generally organized with a project sponsor acting as the single point-of-contact for the project’s stakeholders. The project sponsor typically delegates requirements for the required level of CM to the project team through the project manager. The project manager is, therefore, responsible for coordinating the efforts of the project team to ensure that the project approach to CM is aligned with the requirements and expectations of the stakeholders. This is a consideration because the output of a project can be an interface or an input to the stakeholders’ own configuration process or system. Note that the stakeholders can have their own CM processes and systems.

For small or simple projects where minimal coordination or planning is required, the project manager may also act as the configuration manager. On large or complex projects, a separate configuration manager may be appointed to interface between the project team and the individual application stakeholders.

At the project level, PCM issues are addressed in a PCM plan. The PCM plan could include:

  • Authorities, roles, responsibilities, and disciplines involved;
  • Identification of controlled items (i.e., configuration items (CI));
  • Configuration control processes and procedures;
  • Status accounting and metric definitions; and
  • List of PCM audits and procedures as well as their relationships to project schedules.

Figure 2-2 illustrates typical interfaces required to address PCM and CM Interface.

2.3 Communications

Sound, fundamental, quality communications are fundamental for the integration of PCM activities into the project management plan. Communication is also a key process for the management of PCM points of interaction. Good interface management is essential for the systematic communication of PCM information and control of the points of interaction.

Figure 2-3 illustrates a simple PCM communications system and the flow of PCM change information for a project. The arrows show the flows of information.

PCM requires human and system interfaces with other project processes to ensure plans and priorities of CM align with those of the overall project plan. Clearly defined project interfaces provide effective and efficient communications among the project stakeholders, suppliers, customers, and systems. In PCM, communication interfaces are categorized as human and system interfaces. Figure 2-4 depicts project human and system interfaces.

2.3.1 Human Interfaces

Human interfaces cover the complex communications between people or groups of people. For PCM, the human interfaces are categorized as internal or external.

Internal interfaces are those among the people engaged on the project and the project activities. These interfaces may be either formal and described in project documents or informal where project members proactively develop solutions through communication of information. Informal interfaces, as a minimum, should be followed up with communication of the discussion to verify that there is indeed agreement with the conclusions of the discussion and to ensure a history of the discussion is documented. The informal interfaces develop as project members learn how to avert and solve problems through communication of information.

The external interfaces involve communication among the project team and persons outside the team. Such interfaces can be with stakeholders, suppliers, and supporting organizations. Other external interfaces may be the end users impacted by the change related to the defined PCM. Defining external interfaces provides a means for communication methods and channels to integrate the external end-users within the change process.

2.3.2 System Interfaces

System interfaces are the artifacts created to share data between systems and between systems and humans. System interfaces are defined by processes and are described in formal documents such as the project scope management plan. System interfaces also deal with establishing processes and structures that ensure compliance with regulations and standards. In most projects, system interfaces concern the various application-specific CM standards and processes related to practice disciplines.

2.4 Training

In some cases, complex projects require formal training for the project stakeholders to understand the need, requirement, development, and maintenance of a PCM plan and related activities.

2.5 Configuration Management and PCM

Projects are often cross-disciplinary endeavors. Specific disciplines will often have their own CM strategies and procedures. A challenge for the project manager is to plan and execute CM on project CIs while harmonizing with the CM needs and capabilities of all the disciplines engaged in the project. The term “harmonization” is used to describe a condition where the configuration management systems of a project manage unique CIs; do not conflict in practice, schedule, or resource usage; and share lexicon and vocabulary needed for effective interface communications among stakeholders. Figure 2-5 describes the harmonization concepts.

Figure 2-6 expands on the concept of harmonizing multiple approaches to PCM on a project involving several disciplines. Figure 2-6 also shows some of the considerations in assuring that PCM and discipline CM work together on a project.