Jack Wasson, Project Manager, USA
"CM is a process for managing complex (mostly technical) systems by establishing and maintaining consistency of a product’s performance and functional and physical attributes with its requirements, design and operational information throughout its life cycle.
CM verifies that a system performs as intended, and is identified and documented in sufficient detail to support its projected life cycle.
Use of Configuration Mangement. Applications
The CM process enables orderly management of system information and system changes for such beneficial purposes as to revise capability; improve performance, reliability, or maintainability; extend life; reduce cost; reduce risk and liability; or correct defects.
5 Configuration Management Disciplines
The CM process for both hardware and software configuration items comprises five distinct disciplines as established in the MIL–HDBK–61A and ANSI/EIA-649. These disciplines are carried out as policies and procedures for establishing baselines and performing a standard change management process.
1. CM Planning and Management: A formal document and plan to guide the CM program that includes items such as: Personnel; Responsibilities and Resources; Training requirements; Administrative meeting guidelines, including a definition of procedures and tools; baselining processes; Configuration control and Configuration status accounting; Naming conventions; Audits and Reviews; and Subcontractor/Vendor CM requirements.
2. Configuration Identification (CI): Consists of setting and maintaining baselines, which define the system or subsystem architecture, components, and any developments at any point in time. It is the basis by which changes to any part of an information system are identified, documented, and later tracked through design, development, testing, and final delivery. CI incrementally establishes and maintains the definitive current basis for Control and Status Accounting (CSA) of a system and its configuration items (CIs) throughout their lifecycle (development, production, deployment, and operational support) until disposal.
3. Configuration Control: Includes the evaluation of all change requests and change proposals, and their subsequent approval or disapproval. It is the process of controlling modifications to the system’s design, hardware, firmware, software, and documentation.
4. Configuration Status Accounting: Includes the process of recording and reporting configuration item descriptions (e.g., hardware, software, firmware, etc.) and all departures from the baseline during design and production. In case of suspected problems, the verification of baseline configuration and approved modifications can be quickly determined.
5. Configuration Verification and Audit: An independent review of hardware and software for the purpose of assessing compliance with established performance requirements, commercial and appropriate military standards, and functional, allocated, and product baselines. Configuration audits verify the system and subsystem configuration documentation complies with their functional and physical performance characteristics before acceptance into an architectural baseline.
History of Configuration Management
The CM approach evolved from initial US militairy use in the 1950s into other technical applications such as civil engineering and other industrial engineering segments such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings.
Some organizations have moved away from configuration management, because they want to avoid traceability and accountability.
By knowing what you have at all times and communicating this data organizationwide, it is easier to manage risks, quality, logistics, performance and actually plan.
Lately CM is making a strong comeback as if it were a new thing."