As per Wikipedia definition “Configuration management (CM) is a system engineering process for establishing and maintaining consistency of a product’s performance, functional, and physical attributes with its requirements, design, and operational information throughout its life.”
In simple words, it helps product companies to automate and simplify complex and time-consuming repetitive tasks. Additionally, it provides direction for the development and implementation of the processes, methods, tools, procedures, services, and resources required to support a complex system. Configuration management processes also ensure that changes in business requirements are approved and documented.
Companies at large are vulnerable to data leaks, breaches, and hacks. Configuration tackles this problem by providing a secure central repository.
In addition, many modern software has configuration management features built-in to store, track, monitor, and implement changes to their software from time to time. However, lack of it can cause serious software reliability and scalability issues.
This blog highlights the core benefits of configuration management but first, let’s delve deep into the basics.
1. What is configuration management?
Configuration management (CM) is a process that allows users to make changes to their existing business system without altering its baseline. It is applied to a variety of systems, including;
- Databases and other storage systems
- Operating systems
For example, if you sell Saas (Software-as-a-service) based products, you would use technology to automate various development-related activities. However, if you want to add a new functionality for alerts/notifications within the tool, configuration management will let you implement this without investing in new software.
Now that you understand configuration management let’s examine how you can implement it in your organization.
2. Configuration management processes
Configuration management entails a set of processes that ensure smooth customization of the tool for the entire lifecycle. The process includes a team of configuration managers, software developers, and auditors who ensure its execution.
Let’s review each step mentioned below.
A. Configuration identification
It is the first step toward configuration management and determines the scope of the software to be configured. Some of the activities taken care of during this process are:
- Identifying configuration items like source code, test cases, etc.
- Estimated resources needed to do the configuration, like some specific tools, files, documents, etc.
- Recognizing the computer software configuration items.
- A list of details for the configuration explaining the why, what, how, when, and who will make the changes.
Thus, configuration identification starts with understanding the needs of the user, checking if they are workable and are aligned with the existing tool.
B. Configuration control
In this step, changes or configurations are submitted to the configuration manager, who oversees the process of changes made to the product or the documentation. The following questions act as a guide to the process:
- Who controls the changes to the product?
- Which items are getting configured?
- And how are these changes done or controlled?
Configuration control also checks if the requested changes align with the baseline (to ensure that it is doable on the existing platform) and if there will be any significant side effects or impact on other items.
C. Configuration status accounting
Once the changes are implemented, it’s time to track the new version of the software and review how the changes have affected or altered the existing one. The tasks during status accounting are as follows:
- Maintaining a record of the changes made to the previous code or software to reach the new one
- Identify the items configured
Besides recording and reporting, status accounting also mentions the exact time the changes were made, who made them, what components were modified as well as their impact.
D. Configuration verification and audit
Verification and auditing are the final component and steps in the configuration management process. After implementing the changes, the auditor verifies if the end product comes according to the desired result. Configuration verification includes the following:
- Identification of the accuracy of the configured items
- Assessment and tracking of the newly made changes
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of the whole process
A configuration auditor is responsible for seeing the whole audit process from start to end. They evaluate if the configuration management goals are met properly and if they comply with the configuration standards.
Now that you have learned the steps, let’s look at the benefits once the configuration is done.
3. 7 Benefits of configuration management in enhancing operational efficiency
Customization offers multiple benefits to a business in terms of increased agility and faster problem resolution, and here is the run-down of the same.
A. Cost efficiency for your business
Building new software from scratch or buying it from the market for day-to-day functions can be an expensive affair. Moreover, using multiple tools can make business processes complicated and slow. Therefore, when organizations implement configuration management to their existing software with the support of the technical team, it helps them to reduce expenses on getting a new tool.
Since the baseline of the software remains the same, any accompanying upgrades come at less to no fee. This allows organizations to get more value from their purchase, resulting in high ROI and increased business efficiency.
B. Keeps the data secure in a central server
Configuration management lets users store information and documents in a central server from where everyone within the company can access them. It is especially beneficial when employees are located remotely or in different office locations. Furthermore, when one employee makes changes to the document, it automatically updates for the rest of the team too.
This way, employees can stay on board and collaborate in real-time. Configuration management also offers data security to avoid cyber-attacks and data breaches. For instance, if one of the offices in another country experiences a power outage or is shut down indefinitely, the data remains secure in the central server and preserves a backup for later use.
C. Avoid information overload with role-based access
Often leaders in organizations have to spend a lot of time finding the relevant information when they need to make business decisions. Through configuration management, managers can create or configure the dashboards as per their requirements and get role-based access to relevant data. It helps avoid information overload and enables managers to make quick decisions and execute projects fast.
For example, senior officials and C-level executives want to view data in a comprehensive manner. So, reports like resource availability, utilization, project progress can be presented in the form of pie charts and graphs using configuration. Further, project managers will not see information about different resources because it’s not related to them. This is how configuration provides the right information to the right person at the right time and improves operational efficiency.
D. Gain real-time customized reports and insights
Configuration prevents information overload by customizing various reports from BI and presenting the correct information to the right person. It gives managers a multidimensional view of reports based on teams, departments, roles, and so on in real-time.
For instance, if a resource manager wants to see resources under their span of control, they can do it by using the right sort-by like project + teams etc. This kind of real-time data helps managers to take timely decisions, increase operational efficiency and deliver projects successfully.
E. Helps in creating different portals and sort-Bys
In addition to creating real-time customized reports and insights, configuration helps admins add, edit, update, or delete various portals. That way, new or existing users can be quickly added to the portal created. For example, every organization has a different structure and hierarchy consisting of project managers and resource managers. So, if the company wants to expand and add more managerial positions, they can add those portals with the necessary access.
Likewise, if managers want to look at information from department & teams or department & project, they can do so by using the sort-Bys. Configuration allows them to add as many sort-Bys as they want. Resource management software, for instance, provides resource managers with the ability to sort information such as teams + project, project + resource, and so on. That way, managers can procure data according to relevance and other defined criteria and enhance operational efficiency.
F. Enhances project delivery by making business processes efficient
Managers are always looking for new tools and technologies to make business operations as efficient as possible. Configuration of dashboards, reports, portals, etc., give managers visibility to real-time data about the status of their projects and resources that are allocated.
Since all the necessary information is readily available and configured to give role-based access, senior-level managers can spend more time on strategic activities. All of this enhances the efficiency of the business process as decisions are taken proactively, reduces human error and improves project delivery.
G. Makes it easier to scale up businesses
When companies grow, there is a demand to get the appropriate tools that can accommodate the needs of their growing business. Configuration management ensures that they do not have to invest a lot in acquiring new software by enhancing their existing database.
It ensures that if the business grows and the number of resources increases, the database is able to integrate that information. Moreover, when there is a new compliance or policy change, users can alter the software accordingly. This allows businesses to save time and money, thereby making the process efficient and improves business profitability.
The business world is highly competitive, with organizations using cutting-edge technology to improve their efficiency. Configuration management is a boon for such organizations as it improves business efficiency by providing relevant information to people and minimizing any decision-making delays.
Have you experienced the benefits of configuration management?
5. The Glossary:
6. The Saviom Solution:
SAVIOM is the market leader in offering the most powerful and configurable solutions for managing enterprise resources efficiently and effectively. Having more than 20 years of experience, this Australian-based MNC has a global presence in over 50 countries. It is also popular with more than 100 customers and helps them achieve their business goals. SAVIOM also has products for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software which can be easily customized as per business requirements.