Introduction to Configuration & Change Management

Introduction To top of page

To paraphrase the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model (SEI CMM) 'Configuration and Change Management controls change to, and maintains the integrity of, a project's artifacts'.


Configuration and Change Control Management (CM and CCM) involves:

  • identifying configuration items,
  • restricting changes to those items,
  • auditing changes made to those items, and
  • defining and managing configurations of those items.

The methods, processes, and tools used to provide change and configuration management for an organization can be considered as the organization's CM System.

An organization's Configuration and Change Request Management System (CM System) holds key information about its product development, promotion, deployment and maintenance processes, and retains the asset base of potentially re-usable artifacts resulting from the execution of these processes.

The CM System is an essential and integral part of the overall development processes.

Purpose To top of page

A CM System is essential for controlling the numerous artifacts produced by the many people who work on a common project. Control helps avoid costly confusion, and ensures that resultant artifacts are not in conflict due to some of the following kinds of problems:

Simultaneous Update

When two or more team members work separately on the same artifact, the last one to make changes destroys the work of the former. The basic problem is that if a system does not support simultaneous update this leads to serial changes and slows down the development process. However, with simultaneous update, the challenge is to detect that updates have occurred simultaneously and to resolve any integration issues when these changes are incorporated

Limited Notification

When a problem is fixed in artifacts shared by several developers, and some of them are not notified of the change.

Multiple Versions

Most large programs are developed in evolutionary releases. One release could be in customer use, while another is in test, and the third is still in development. If problems are found in any one of the versions, fixes need to be propagated between them. Confusion can arise leading to costly fixes and re-work unless changes are carefully controlled and monitored.

A CM System is useful for managing multiple variants of evolving software systems, tracking which versions are used in given software builds, performing builds of individual programs or entire releases according to user-defined version specifications, and enforcing site-specific development policies.

Some of the direct benefits provided by a CM System are that it:

  • supports development methods,
  • maintains product integrity,
  • ensures completeness and correctness of the configured product,
  • provides a stable environment within which to develop the product,
  • restricts changes to artifacts based on project policies, and
  • provides an audit trail on why, when and by whom any artifact was changed.

In addition, a CM System stores detailed 'accounting' data on the development process itself: who created a particular version (and when, and why), what versions of sources went into a particular build, and other relevant information.

Relation to Other Disciplines To top of page

An organization's CM System is used throughout the product's lifecycle, from inception to deployment. As an organization's asset repository, the CM system contains current and historical versions of source files of requirements, design and implementation artifacts that define a particular version of a system or a system component.

The Product Directory Structure, represented in the CM System, contains all the artifacts required to implement the product. As such, the Configuration & Change Management (CCM) discipline is related to all the other process disciplines as it serves as a repository for their resultant sets of artifacts.

Related Book Content To top of page

For exercices, Cyber-Readings or further readings about the Configuration and Change Management Discipline, refer the the following book Chapter: Software Engineering Process - with the UPEDU, Chapter VIII: The Software Configuration and Change Management Discipline