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PRINCE2 - Configuration management part 2

Configuration control

This is concerned with the issue and receipt of products, tracking status, protecting finished products and controlling any changes to them.

Product submission

A suitable procedure is needed for the Configuration Librarian to receive products. For larger projects this may be quite formal using a form.
This process allows protection of the product from any changes by the author or anyone else. A product will be submitted to the Configuration Librarian when it achieves a particular status, for example, ready for review or when approved.
If necessary the Project Manager will be informed of any changes in product status.

Issuing the product

All originals of products are retained in the archive only copies are issued.

Issue occurs for several reasons, some of which may be:

  • A draft product requires review
  • It is used as a starting point for another process, for example, specifications needed in support of design
  • Or it is part of a release package.

Items to record would be:

  • The date of issue
  • To whom
  • The reason for issue
  • Required return date

There may be a need to add additional pieces of information if the product is of a sensitive nature, such as ‘Confidential’ or ‘Top Secret’.
Such phrase should be defined. Specific authorisation may be required.

Issuing product copies

These must be labelled clearly as copies, given a specific version number so that any updates can be issued as necessary.
All old versions should be recalled and destroyed. This activity must be documented.
If this is not done eventually someone will do something in error using and old product.

Product Status Account

At an End Stage or an End Project Report the Project Manager must be aware of the exact status of all products as necessary.
It is for this reason the Product Status Account is requested by the Project Manager and issued by the Configuration Librarian.
It will show the status of all products so that the Project Manager can chase up any outstanding items before proceeding further.

Typically, the Project Manager will wish to know if products exist, are in draft or approved form.

Configuration audits

This is an audit of the products against their records in the Configuration Library.
It will check the status, whether particular versions have been issued and to whom, are there any discrepancies against the records. It will also check the standards used for the configuration management process.

The audit is usually carried out by someone with Project Assurance responsibilities with the help of the Configuration Librarian. The Project Manager may appoint someone if the Project Board is carrying out its own Project Assurance.

Configuration management method

It covers:

  • Identifying the individual sub-products of the final product
  • Identifying those product that may be required to produce other products

These have clear links to the process of planning used by PRINCE2®.

  • Establishing a unique product coding system
  • Identifying the owner
  • Identifying the person who will create or amend a version [usually for Authorising Work Package (CS1)]
  • Recording, monitoring and reporting on the current status of each product.
  • Filing all documentation
  • Keeping all originals of any versions of all products
  • Procedures to keep all products stored in a safe and secure manner
  • The distribution of copies and tracking of those receiving them
  • A system that highlights the potential impact of product changes on other products
  • Administrative support for product changes
  • Establishment and control of baseline products
  • The performance of configuration audits

These roles can be carried out by the Configuration Librarian.
An item can only be amended or deleted by an authorised Project Issue to the Configuration Librarian.

Choosing the level of product

How do you define a product in terms of the level to which you should go for the purposes of configuration management?
Starting at the top you will have the finished product. Below this there will be many products that combine to make the finished product.
In turn each of these may be combined of other products and so on.

The more detail that is added may give greater control but at extra cost.
The project must decide at what level to stop.

Normally the correct level might be a product that can be independently installed, replaced or modified.
Many training manuals and safety manuals are under configuration management but the individual content of index and chapters etc.
Detail such as this might be included as part of the ‘composition’ of the items Product Description.

Configuration management and change control

Product change cannot occur without change control and this will mean authorisation via a Project Issue.
Changed products must have anew version number. The record of the change should reference the Project Issue.

It is not good practice to have multiple changes made on a product made by more than one person.
Avoid making individual changes on a product when they can be combined and delegated to just one person.
It is important to avoid issues that may arise with multiple changes and this is best done if one person is coordinating it.

A change cannot be made until a previous change has been approved.
Never issue an original version for a change.

Project support office

A finished product will live on well after the project and undergo many changes.
Configuration management is still useful here to keep track of the changes.
It is useful to have a Project Office to help with this.

On occasion the Customer may wish to use their configuration management system to monitor the product during its lifespan and you will have to fit in.
When the product is outsourced the supplier may have a system and it is a good idea to make sure the methods are compatible with any system used by the group looking after the product during its life.

This product contains EVERYTHING in the publications:

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2005 edition
Managing successful Projects with PRINCE2 – 2009 edition
Directing Projects with PRINCE2.
The Complete Project Management package.

And much more besides - at a fantastic price.