5 steps to Software Configuration Management Process-1

5 steps to Software Configuration Management Process

Software Configuration Management (SCM) is like a set of rules for organizing and controlling changes when making software. Imagine you’re building a house of Lego. As you build, you might realize you need to change something or add a new piece to make it better. SCM is like having a system to keep track of these changes and make sure everything fits together correctly.


In the world of software, things change a lot. Developers might need to fix bugs, add new features, or improve how the software works. SCM helps them do this in an organized way. It keeps a record of what changes are made, who made them, and why. This helps the team work together without causing mistakes or confusion.


SCM is crucial because if changes aren’t managed properly, it can mess up the whole software. It’s like making sure the Lego pieces fit perfectly, and you don’t accidentally use the wrong ones. SCM’s main goal is to make the team more productive while avoiding mistakes.


So, in simple terms, SCM is like the rulebook for changing and improving software, making sure everyone is on the same page and things run smoothly.

Table of contents

The 5 steps of a SCM plan

The software configuration management process is a well-organized set of steps created to monitor and oversee various aspects like defects, resources, codes, documents, hardware, and budgets throughout a project.


SCM is a collaborative process that spans across different roles, including DevOps, developers, project managers/owners, SysAdmin, and testers. It brings together people from all levels to ensure effective management and control of project elements.

The 5 steps of a SCM plan

Planning and Identification

The initial stage of the process is planning and identification. Here, the aim is to strategize for the development of the software project and pinpoint the items falling within the project’s scope. This involves holding meetings and brainstorming sessions with the team to establish the fundamental criteria for the project’s progression.


During this step, it is crucial to determine how the project will unfold and set exit criteria, providing a clear understanding of when all project goals will be achieved.


Key activities in this phase include:

  • Identifying items such as test cases, specification requirements, and code modules.
  • Pinpointing each computer software configuration item in the process.
  • Grouping essential details on why, when, and what changes will occur, along with assigning responsibility for making these changes.
  • Compiling a list of necessary resources, including tools, files, documents, and more.

Version Control and Baseline

The version control and baseline stage ensures the ongoing integrity of the product by defining an accepted version of the software. This baseline is set at a specific point in the SCM process and can only be modified through a formal procedure.


The purpose of this step is to manage the changes made to the product. As the project progresses, new baselines are established, leading to multiple versions of the software.


This step involves the following activities:

  • Identifying and categorizing the components covered by the project.
  • Developing a method to track the hierarchy of different software versions.
  • Identifying crucial relationships between various components.
  • Establishing various baselines for the product, including developmental, functional, and product baselines.
  • Creating a standardized labeling system for all products, revisions, and files to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Baselining a project attribute enforces formal configuration change control processes when these attributes undergo changes.

Change Control

Change control is the method used to ensure that any modifications align with the overall project. Implementing these controls contributes to quality assurance and the approval and release of new baseline(s), making it a crucial aspect of project success.


During this step, requests to alter configurations are submitted to the team and reviewed by the software configuration manager for approval or denial. The most common types of requests involve adding or editing various configuration items or adjusting user permissions.


This process involves:

  • Managing spontaneous changes requested by the client.
  • Evaluating the merit of change requests by assessing their overall impact on the project.
  • Implementing approved changes or providing reasons for denying change requests.

Configuration Status Accounting

The next step is to make sure the project is progressing as planned by testing and verifying against the established baselines. This involves reviewing release notes and related documents to ensure the software meets all functional requirements.


Configuration status accounting keeps track of each version released during the process, assessing what’s new in each version and why changes were necessary. 


Some of the activities in this step include:

  • Recording and assessing changes made from one baseline to the next.
  • Monitoring the status and resolution of all change requests.
  • Documenting each change made due to change requests to reach another baseline.
  • Checking previous versions for analysis and testing.

Audits and Reviews

The final step involves a thorough technical review of every stage in the software development life cycle. Audits and reviews examine the process, configurations, workflow, change requests, and all aspects contributing to the development of each baseline throughout the project’s progression.


The team conducts multiple reviews of the application to ensure its integrity, also assembling essential accompanying documentation like release notes, user manuals, and installation guides.


Activities in this step include:

  • Verifying that the goals outlined in the planning and identification step are achieved.
  • Ensuring that the software adheres to identified configuration control standards.
  • Confirming that changes from baselines align with the reports.
  • Validating that the project is coherent and complete based on the project’s goals.
  • It’s worth noting that, unlike traditional file systems, specialized database management software can offer advanced features such as data integrity and security, which are crucial for effective software configuration management.

Why do we need Software Configuration Management?

Software Configuration Management (SCM) is crucial for several reasons:


  1. Tracking and Managing Changes: SCM in software engineering primarily focuses on monitoring and managing changes throughout the software development process. This helps enhance the productivity of the software application while minimizing errors.
  2. Geographically Distributed Teams: In scenarios where teams are spread across different branches and authors are working on a software configuration project concurrently, SCM enables efficient tracking of individual contributions and modifications. It ensures that every team member’s code remains in an updated loop.
  3. Smooth Workflow and Communication: SCM in software engineering fosters a smooth workflow within the development process. It also acts as a communication platform among team members, promoting collaboration and contributing to the development of a higher-quality product.
  4. Handling Non-Technical Changes: Beyond code and programming, SCM covers changes in user requirements, policies, budget, and schedule. This inclusion of non-technical areas eases the development process by accommodating a variety of changes.
  5. Cross-Platform Compatibility: To ensure that software can run seamlessly on various machines and operating systems, SCM in software engineering plays a crucial role. It ensures the final product undergoes thorough analysis, making it reliable and flawless before reaching the client.

Who is involved in the software configuration process?

The software configuration process involves various members of the software development team, including:

Configuration Manager

  • Determines the roles of individuals throughout the development process.
  • Ensures adherence to the SCM process across the entire project.
  • Makes final decisions on all change requests.

Project Manager

  • Integral to the SCM process by setting project timeframes.
  • Ensures the project meets completion deadlines.
  • Generates progress reports for the team.
  • Ensures team members follow guidelines for software creation, changes, and testing.

Software Developers

  • Write code during development.
  • Accommodate approved change requests.


  • In charge of all audits and reviews.
  • Ensures the final release is complete and consistent.

Automated Tools for Software Configuration Management

IT managers and system engineers have the option to either implement internal protocols or utilize third-party software for configuration management. Here are some popular tools for software configuration management:


  • Overview: Comprehensive free configuration management system.
  • Features: Offers 100 possible build configurations, supports multi-server setup, and integrates with test automation, bug tracking, and implementation tools.

SolarWinds Server Configuration Monitor

  • Overview: Analyzes modifications to programs and identifies unauthorized or potentially harmful changes.
  • Features: Detects discrepancies between multiple configurations, aids in troubleshooting, and provides a checklist of system information for improvement.


  • Overview: Open-source tool for asset and configuration management.
  • Features: Manages system audits and configurations across organizations based on predetermined policies.


  • Overview: Works on the Go programming language, providing configuration capabilities for systems scaling in size, capacity, and operations.
  • Features: Deploys and configures new systems based on the existing architecture.


  • Overview: Software configuration management tool using Ruby scripts.
  • Features: Identifies essential routines for maintaining and updating systems or programs, performs tasks like testing, adaptation to new platforms, and risk identification during program development.

Advantages of Using Configuration Management Tools

Advantages of Using Configuration Management Tools

Automation of Manual Tasks

  • Facilitates the automation of traditionally manual tasks in software configuration management.
  • Increases accuracy, speed, and control in the management process.


Alerts and Reports

  • Provides alerts and reports for any deviations from agreed-upon baselines.
  • Enables real-time monitoring, allowing quick response to issues.


Change Tracking

  • Automatically tracks changes to servers or applications, and allows manual entry of data.
  • Facilitates change auditing, helping maintain a clear record of modifications.


Configuration Comparisons

  • Identifies differences between configurations.
  • Assists in understanding changes and ensuring consistency.


Faster Troubleshooting


Inventory Tracking

  • Tracks hardware and software assets.
  • Eliminates the need for manual inventory lists.


Patch Management

  • Assists in tracking details of patch management and software updates.
  • Ensures efficient distribution and management of updates.

Consideration and Downsides of Software Configuration Management Tools

There are some things to consider before embracing an SCM tool, including:


Resource Drain

Requires adequate resources to support the entire process effectively.


Knowledge Limitations

All involved parties must possess a deep understanding of the software management tools in use.


SMB Disadvantage

The comprehensive requirements for effective tool utilization may pose challenges for small businesses.


Hardware Specs

Fast and highly configured hardware is essential for the smooth operation of the process.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the overview provided covers essential aspects for establishing a software configuration management process to effectively track, control, and manage projects. Utilizing SCM tools, like Ansible or TeamCity, proves beneficial by automating various facets of the SCM process, offering a considerable return on investment. For further insights and recommendations on SCM tools.

Frequently Asked Questions

Configuration Management in Project Management refers to the systematic process of identifying, documenting, and managing the characteristics and specifications that define a final product or deliverable within a project. These characteristics encompass both functional and physical attributes.

Physical Specifications

  • Physical specifications entail attributes such as color, size, weight, shape, and materials.
  • In the case of a car, physical specs might outline a requirement for a red, four-door vehicle.

Functional Specifications

  • Functional specifications pertain to the ability of the product to achieve specific outcomes or perform certain functions.
  • For the same car project, functional specs could include reaching 60 mph in 10 seconds and meeting emissions standards.

Project configuration management involves the management of the configuration of essential products and assets within a project. This encompasses not only the end products destined for the customer but also all management products, including the project management plan and performance management baseline. The implementation of configuration management must closely align with project change management, as any change in the project must be thoroughly monitored and evaluated to understand its impact on the project’s configuration. These two processes are highly interconnected, with project configuration management often described as “like change management on steroids.

The 5 pillars of configuration management are:


  • Configuration Planning: Establishing a plan that outlines the approach and procedures for configuration management within the organization. 


  • Identification: Identifying and documenting the characteristics and specifications that define a product or system configuration.


  • Change Management: Managing and controlling changes to the configuration throughout the project’s lifecycle. 


  • Status Accounting: Recording and reporting the current state of a system or product configuration. 


  • Verification and Audit: Systematically reviewing and evaluating the configuration to ensure compliance with requirements

Configuration management is an important tool for managing complex software systems. Lack of configuration management can cause serious problems with reliability, uptime, and the ability to scale a system. Many current software development tools have configuration management features built in.