Configuration management

Although in the confined project management context configuration management is often assumed to be synonymous with version control of documentation or software, it is of course very much more far reaching in the total project environment. Developed originally in the aerospace industry, it has been created to ensure that changes and modifications to physical components, software, systems and documentation are recorded and identified in such a way that replacements, spares and assembly documentation has conformed to the version in service. It also has been developed to ensure that the design standards and characteristics were reflected accurately in the finished product.

It can be seen that when projects involve complex systems as in the aerospace, defence or petrochemical industry, configuration management is of the utmost importance as the very nature of these industries involves development work and numerous modifications not only from the original concept or design but also during the whole life cycle of the product.

Keeping track of all these changes to specifications, drawings, support documentation and manufacturing processes is the essence of configuration management which can be split into the following five main stages:

1 Configuration management and planning. This covers the necessary standards, procedures, support facilities, resources and training and sets out the scope, definitions, reviews, milestones and audit dates.

2 Configuration identification. This encompasses the logistics and systems and procedures. It also defines the criteria for selection in each of the project phases.

3 Configuration change management. This deals with the proposed changes and their investigation before acceptance. At this stage changes are compared with the configuration baseline including defining when formal departure points have been reached.

4 Configuration status accounting. This records and logs the accepted (registered) changes and notification as well as providing traceability of all baselines.

5 Configuration audit. This ensures that all the previous stages have been correctly applied and incorporated in the organization. The output of this stage is the audit report.

In all these stages resources and facilities must always be considered and arrangements must be made to feed back comments to the management stage.

Essentially the process of identification, evaluation and implementation of changes requires accurate monitoring and recording and subsequent dissemination of documentation to the interested parties. This is controlled by a Master Record Index (MRI). An example of such an MRI for controlling documents is shown in Figure 19.1.

Master record index


Document Title

Reference number





Business Case

Rqmt SR 123

Draft A


Mr Sponsor

PM, Line Mgmt

Draft B


Issue 1


Issue 2


Project Mgmt Plan


Draft A



All Stakeholders

Issue 1




Draft A


Mr MLS Deputy PM

IPMT (Project Team)

Issue 1


Risk Mgmt plan etc.


Figure 19.1 Master record index

Figure 19.1 Master record index

On large, complex and especially multinational projects, where the design and manufacture are carried out in different countries, great effort is required to ensure that product configuration is adequately monitored and controlled. To this end a configuration control committee is appointed to head up special interface control groups and configuration control boards which investigate and, where accepted, approve all proposed changes.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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