What is Configuration Management?

An Easy to Understand Guide to Configuration Management by CMPIC

Smiling man drawing on whiteboard explaining configuraiton management CM definition

Configuration Management Definition

Definition: Configuration Management is a set of interrelated processes, management techniques, and supporting tools that assure:
    1. our work products (what a company is managing) are as they should be and conform to requirements;

    2. changes to the above are properly evaluated, authorized, and implemented;

    3. all information / data necessary to manage our end items and other related work products is:
      (a) kept current and accurate,
      (b) properly structured for users’ needs, and
      (c) readily available to all who need to know.

Configuration Management (CM) ensures that an organization is making informed business decisions, performing correct actions, and that all work products are what they are intended to be at every point in the lifecycle.

CM is about knowing what we did yesterday, what we are doing today, and what we will be doing in the future, as well as understanding the reasoning and authority behind every action/change that got us there.

This is no easy task! Many organizations are dealing with hundreds to thousands of requirements, documents, drawings, test plans, etc. that are continuously changing. These items must be readily available, protected, and kept accurate at all times; meaning nothing should be changed without proper review and authorization. In addition, organizations must design, produce, deliver, operate, maintain, upgrade, and retrofit hundreds to thousands of their end-items, parts, assemblies, software programs, etc.

Why Do We Need Configuration Management?

Woman looking through papers trying to learn why we need Configuration Management (CM).

Almost everyone in an organization plays a role in effective and efficient configuration management. Problems arise because too many do not understand their roles. Configuration management processes, like the conductor of an orchestra, are there to ensure everyone is working to the same sheet of music.

Without some form of configuration management, there would be chaos. CM protects organizations from Murphy’s Law – "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". When errors occur that need correcting, it is imperative that organizations are able to quickly locate and utilize the latest and most accurate information.

If any of the following is happening in your organization, it is an indication your CM related processes are in need of improvement:
  • Products are produced and parts are purchased to the wrong configurations.
  • Individuals spend hours searching for up-to-date information, then more time trying to figure out what it says in order to make a ten minute decision.
  • It takes too long to make changes to documentation and product.
  • Unauthorized changes are being made to product, documentation, special tooling, test equipment, etc.
  • Audits are feared instead of welcomed.
  • Communication between departments is poor.
  • Product documentation and changes to that documentation are not calculated as part of a true cost.
  • Bad ideas and costly mistakes are discovered after the fact.
  • There is a lack of accountability when things go wrong.
  • It takes days to figure out the configuration of a problem product.
  • The level of customer dissatisfaction is unacceptable.
  • Non-conformances, scrap, re-work, or repair rates are too high.
  • Product development takes too long - it is over budget and behind schedule.
  • Production goals (such as cost, schedule, performance, quality, etc.) are not being met.
  • In-service products are changed but few records exist.
  • Individuals leave the company citing "frustration" as a reason.
  • Integrity of supplier CM abilities is in doubt.
  • And more…

Configuration Management Training and CMPIC

Attentive student learning about configuration management in CMPIC class.

Many CM Professionals do not fully understand the entire scope of configuration management and may be responsible for only a limited number of configuration management related tasks within their organization. CMPIC's goal is to train CM professionals in configuration management so that each student walks away with a complete understanding of the CM landscape relevant in all work environments. CMPIC is a training and certification organization that offers courses for Configuration Management (CM) professionals and professionals working with CM processes / process improvement, such as program managers, department heads, quality assurance, engineers, testing, etc.. CMPIC’s certification and training courses provide a complete understanding of all aspects of configuration management by teaching internationally recognized CM standards, CM handbooks, quality standards, the Code of Federal regulations, and other documents that address the requirements, laws, and application methodologies associated with CM.

CMPIC classes will help you to fully understand configuration management principles and applications by addressing implementation techniques, organizational roles in the CM process, and important configuration management tools. CMPIC’s goal is to help our students and their organizations fully understand and embrace best configuration management practices.

CMPIC graduates leave CMPIC courses with a solid foundation in all things related to configuration management. They are prepared to implement more effective configuration management processes, able to explain the benefits of configuration management to their organizations, and have the potential to identify areas of CM process improvement that can reduce cost and increase efficiency across the board.

Please see our testimonial page to learn why our students respect, trust, and recommend CMPIC courses. See you in class!



The Five Elements of Configuration Management

An infographic of the five elements of configuration management (CM).