Configuration Management: An Overview
To effectively manage products, systems and infrastructures, it is above all necessary to manage the evolution of data and products rather than having a static view of the data. In fact, the need of industrials is mainly related to managing the evolution of data and products and not having a static view of data. More precisely, in the construction sector everything is about “movement” and evolution: innovation, development, modification … A technical reference is not intended to be a virtual archive room! Finally, what matters is not the “photo of data” but their creation and evolution over time.
Concretely, in the management of a program or infrastructure, the project manager leads will have to manage a large number of documents that evolve over time. The need is not to merely manage all documents, but to manage the applicable documentation at a given time to equipment (different types / versions): this is called bill of materials management (BOM management).
Moreover, it is necessary to define the processes that will give to the different actors data and documents required to carry out the project. They contribute to ensuring the accuracy, reliability and quick availability of information (industrial, contractual …) transmitted, regardless of the medium used.
To meet these needs, configuration management (which corresponds to control of equipment and documents) makes it possible to establish a technical memory that is relevant to the future life of the project. It also facilitates the management of feedbacks. Therefore, it is the control of the project that is at stake in the context of these new operational requirements.
From document configuration management to system configuration management
As a general rule, configuration’s mastery starts with the control and efficient documentation management. However, merely managing data in the form of document raises some limits, especially at the level of information synthesis, research or impact analysis. Thus, the second step in the “configuration management” approach generally corresponds to the identification of items, equipment, products or systems that must be managed. Each one of the elements can be tracked precisely as part of its life cycle and following its specific needs.
It is then possible to make a significant number of links between documents and articles or equipment, between definition elements and installed or serialized ones, between equipments themselves and according to their versions, etc. These links are therefore the basis for new opportunities and meet simple needs but often difficult to meet (identification of impacts, comparison of two systems, monitoring modifications requests elements).
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