This is concerned with the issue and receipt of products, tracking status, protecting finished products and controlling any changes to them.
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.
All originals of products are retained in the archive only copies are issued.
Issue occurs for several reasons, some of which may be:
Items to record would be:
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.
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.
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.
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.
These have clear links to the process of planning used by PRINCE2®.
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.
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.
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.
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.