If you have any experience in project management, I’m sure that you’re aware of kinds of changes which may happen to projects.
Some changes may affect the project baselines; e.g. scope, time and cost. Other changes might be related to the product itself, such as its specifications.
Configuration management system and change management system are used to manage these types of changes.
Although “change management” is a well known term, “configuration management” is not, unless you are in IT where the term ‘configuration management’ is used more often.
Since non-IT project managers are not well aware of the configuration management system, they confuse it with the change management system.
Anyway, in this blog post I’m going to explain you the configuration and the change management system, and the difference between them.
Okay, let’s get started.
Configuration Management System
In the configuration management system, changes related to product specification are managed.
For example, suppose you’re developing a product and the client comes to you and asks for some changes in the product such as addition of any feature or the dimensional change, etc.
You will deal this type of change with the configuration management system, because the change is related to the configuration of the product.
Change Management System
You can have changes in your project at any time.
For example, you may run out of money and you need to change the cost baseline. You may also not able to complete your project within a given time, and you may require a time extension.
These types of changes involving the project processes or the project baselines are managed through the change management system.
The purpose of the change management system is to implement the approved changes into the project with a minimum of disruption.
The change management system ensures that every change request is received, analyzed and either approved or rejected. If it is approved, all other project constraints will also be analyzed for any possible impact.
A good change management system ensures that all affected parameters are identified and analyzed for any impact before the change is implemented to the system, in order to minimize the adverse effects.
A Real World Example
Suppose you’re managing a project to build a school building with 10 classrooms.
You’re in the middle of your project, suddenly your contractor for steel works walks off the job, and you are struggling to find his replacement. After a lot of searching you find a contractor for steel works, but he won’t start working on your project for one week.
This will delay your project completion date by one week.
Therefore, you will raise a change request to extend your schedule baseline by one week, and will try to get it approved through the change management system.
This was the first scenario, where you have seen the change management system.
Now let’s see the second scenario, which shows the example of the configuration management system.
You are constructing the school building, suddenly the client requests you increase the number of rooms from 10 to 15.
What will you do now?
He asked you to change the configuration of the school building, before it was a 10 room building, and now it is a 15 room building.
Of course you will make a new plan, schedule, and budget.
And then you will raise the configuration change request and get it approved as soon as possible.
These types of changes will be handled under the configuration management system, because here the specification of your product is changed. Before the school building had 10 rooms and now it will have 15 rooms.
Please note that in the first scenario, you raised the change request, but the request was to increase the deadline of the project by one week. There was no change required to the product (the change was required only in schedule baseline); i.e. the school building was the same, but you will handover this building to the client one week later.
The change in the project process will be handled under the change management, because here the configuration of your school building is unchanged. Earlier it was a school building with 10 classrooms, and now it is still a school building with 10 classrooms.
The difference between the change management system and the configuration management system:
The following are a few difference between the change management and configuration management system:
- Change management manages the changes in project baseline.
- An example of change management system can be a change in budget, schedule, etc.
- Configuration management deals with changes in product specifications.
- An example of configuration management can be an extra feature added to the product.
Conditions for Change Management:
The following are a few conditions for change management:
- Delay in schedule: if your schedule is delayed, you will develop a new schedule reflecting the current situation and try to get it approved.
- Cost overrun: If you run out of money, you will need to re-estimate your cost to complete the project and get it approved.
Conditions for Configuration Management:
The following are a few conditions for configuration management:
- Market competition forces new features to be added to the product.
- The project took so long that product is nearing to obsoletion; therefore, a few modifications will be applied to the product to keep it current.
- The client dreamed about a new feature to be added to the product.
I hope now you don’t have any problems in cracking the questions on the PMP exam regarding change management and configuration management system.