PRINCE2® and Your Configuration Management System

Happy New Year!

I still have one more aspect of PRINCE2 to discuss relative to how your organization handles the overarching tasks – this time we need to have a look at how PRINCE2 works with your configuration Management System (CMS).  Let’s check that box and get started.  When I say CMS, I am referring to the set of processes, tools and databases used to manage configuration data for your organization’s projects and products.  PRINCE2 can easily integrate with your existing CMS structure, high-level approach, responsibilities of management and staff and any project-level plans needed for implementation and maintenance.  Issue management and change control procedures can also be considered and integrated with your CMS.

Let’s face it, no organization can be effective if it cannot manage the assets that are vital to running the business.  You should consider adopting a Configuration Management Standard Statement that goes something like this:   To maximize our competitive advantage and dynamically adapt to changing business needs, we will consistently carry out change integration according the our Configuration Management Standard as directed in our Configuration Management guidelines. Implementing a CMS following that standard will take some time and some serious thought.

Your CMS should consist of requirements, as defined in your own CM Standard and supported by any CM Guidelines, which intertwine and cascade through all organizational functions. These requirements are further defined in policies, standards, procedures, manuals, guides, and other CMS documentation. The organization targets producing and maintaining quality products and services by using the CMS.  Related activities include establishing standards for planning for configuration management, executing planned activities, monitoring results and trends of activities, and acting to correct or improve them. This results in a PRINCE2-aligned configuration management cycle of Plan – Identify – Control – Account – Verify. It’s time to take a closer look at each step in this process.

Plan: Configuration management planning ensures that you are consistently able to identify, track and protect all products being produced and maintained by the organization. Your planning activities should align with the tenets of the PRINCE2 change theme.  It is essential to decide what level of configuration management will be required at the program and the project levels and plan how this level is to be achieved.   Additional activities include deciding how and where products will be stored, what filing and retrieval security will exist, how products and their versions will be identified and who is responsible for performing configuration management work.

Identify: Your CMS should specify and identify all components of the final product or outcome for each project.  Unique identifiers will be created for each component as part of its Configuration Item Record (CIR). Check out your PRINCE2 standard, they have great guidelines for setting up your CIRs.

Control: Your CMS should physically control receipt and issue of products, keep track of product status, protect finished products and control any changes to those products.  The CMS will provide recording, monitoring and reporting capabilities on the current status of each product as it progresses through the product life cycle.  All documentation will be filed and master copies of all products will be retained. A CMS supports change control by baselining completed products.  Changing the baselined products requires agreement from the designated change authority at the organization or project level. 

Account: Status accounting is the recording and reporting of all current and historical data concerning each product or configuration.  Your CMS should produce reports on the status of products as requested.

Verify: Verification is a series of reviews and configuration audits ensuring that the actual status of all products matches the authorized state of products that are in the configuration management records.  Your CMS should provide the ability to audit actual products against information recorded about those products.

Once your organization has defined and aligned its CMS with PRINCE2, each project can determine the PRINCE2 processes needed to fulfill the requirements of the CMS. The project managers and project management team will define their Configuration Management Strategy, addressing their project’s CM procedures, tools, techniques, timing and any records that will be kept.  Sounds like a plan … holler if I can be of assistance. And happy asset management!

Susan Weese

Remember, a copy of the PRINCE2 method is required reference material in any project manager’s bookshelf!  The method is documented in the OGC publication Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” which is officially published by TSO.  Serious project managers seeking to enhance their knowledge, skills and professional credibility target should consider PRINCE2 certification.  Learning Tree offers two excellent certification courses for folks interested in becoming a Certified Practitioner of PRINCE2 or simply starting with the Foundation Certification.

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