Configuration and Change Management

by Kim H. Pries

Some people find terms such as configuration management and change management to be confusing and they are unsure what they mean and what the difference could be. We consider change management to be a higher order concept that includes the idea of configuration management. Let’s discuss configuration management first!

Classical configuration management in the mode of the U.S. Department of Defense breaks down into configuration identification, configuration control, configuration status accounting, and configuration auditing. Configuration identification occurs when we specify a product or component sufficiently that can be distinguished from other parts and components; we also usually use a well-specified nomenclature to avoid confusion. Configuration control occurs when we can modify what we have identified in a rational way (change of part number, change of nomenclature, change of drawings) such that we always know what we have. With hardware, configuration identification and control will also include labeling the product to avoid improper installation or ignorant deployment. Configuration status accounting allows us to inspect the condition of our configuration system as well as providing reports on progress of change initiatives involving parts or software. Configuration auditing includes functional configuration auditing (checking if the product works) and physical configuration auditing (checking if our documentation is up to standard).

Change management includes configuration management as a component. However, change management can also include the concepts of scope management, risk management, supplier management, customer management, and all the other component functions of the enterprise, including sales and marketing. Our risk management plan may also include configuration management as part of toolset for effecting change without devolving into a random walk.


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