What You Should Know about Configuration Management for the PMP Certification Exam

One of the areas you will have to be familiar with for the PMP Certification Exam is configuration management. If you work on small projects, you might never have heard this term. It’s kind of like change management on steroids.

Configuration management system. A subsystem of the overall project management system. It is a collection of formal documented procedures used to apply technical and administrative direction and surveillance to

Identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a product, result, service, or component

Control any changes to such characteristics

Record and report each change and its implementation status

Support the audit of the products, results, or components to verify conformance to requirements

It includes the documentation, tracking systems, and defined approval levels necessary for authorizing and controlling changes.

Configuration identification. Selection and identification of a configuration item provides the basis for which product configuration is defined and certified, products and documents are labeled, changes are managed, and accountability is maintained.

Configuration status accounting. Information is recorded and reported as to when appropriate data about the configuration item should be provided. This information includes a listing of approved configuration identification, status of proposed changes to the configuration, and the implementation status of approved changes.

Configuration verification and audit. Configuration verification and configuration audits ensure the composition of a project’s configuration items is correct and that corresponding changes are registered, assessed, approved, tracked, and correctly implemented. This ensures the functional requirements defined in the configuration documentation have been met.

These definitions are admittedly pretty technical. The following example assumes that a donation was made for the childcare center to customize a van for transporting children on field trips to nearby locations, such as zoos, the library, and so on. This example shows how configuration management would be applied to the design and construction of the van for babies, toddlers, and children at the childcare center.

Configuration identification

During the design phase of building the van, you have lots of drawings of the various systems and parts that go into the van. As you elaborate and revise your ideas, you make changes to these drawings. As one design idea changes, it might affect the layout and design of other components.

You can see that the number of drawings and making sure that you have the right drawings are critical to keeping control of the project. To maintain control of the drawings, you decide to label all systems with an “alpha” code: The engine drawings start with an E, the transmission drawings with a T, the chassis drawings with a C, and so forth.

Then you identify each part in the various systems and apply a number to them. Then you put a “build number” on each drawing to indicate whether it’s in the concept phase, design phase, detail design phase, and so on. Each drawing has a date and time identifier at the bottom.

Now assume that you’re in the detail design phase of building the vehicle. You identify the items that need to be included in this phase of the project as well as the information you want to record about those items.

For example, you might want to have all the physical components listed along with their size, weight, material composition, and the supplier. By looking at the configuration control log, you should be able to identify this information — and also see whether and when changes to the items were submitted and also the disposition of those changes.

Configuration status accounting

During the production cycle of building the van, you find that a lot of changes keep coming through, and you need to keep retooling part of the production line. After you run some reports to determine where the changes are coming from, you find that they are coming from a particular branch within the drawing (engineering) tree. You use these reports and metrics to communicate production status.

Configuration verification and audit

When you build your prototype van, you want to make sure that the actual parts are consistent with what the drawings say should be in the vehicle. You also want to make sure that the system was used to document any changes to the parts.

The PMP exam usually (but not always) considers the change control system to be a part of the configuration management system. In practice, it may be that the configuration management system is part of the change control system. Read the questions carefully to determine which method the question is using.

The information in the Perform Integrated Change Control corresponds directly with the knowledge and skills that will be tested for change management techniques and integrated change control techniques.

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