Software Configuration Management

The configuration of a software system is the function and/or physical characteristics of hardware, firmware, software or a combination thereof as set forth in technical documentation and achieved in a product.It can also be thought of as a collection of specific versions of hardware, firmware, or software items combined according to specific build procedures to accomplish a particular purpose.
Software configuration management (SCM) comprises a set of technical, managerial, and administrative activities related to identifying the configuration of a software system at distinct points in time for the purpose of systematically controlling changes to the configuration, recording and reporting change processing and implementation status, verifying compliance with specified requirements, and maintaining the integrity and traceability of the configuration
throughout the system life cycle. Responsibilities of each software project manager related to SCM include enforcing the practice of SCM activities for the project, distributing the activities to the relevant individuals, and managing and administrating the results of these activities.
Since SCM is a supporting lifecycle process to software product development and maintenance, a successful SCM implementation requires careful management and planning.
These are typically performed by the project manager or another designated individual, who does it in close relation with SQA activities. Management and planning activities cover all the other sets of activities,establish all the relevant SCM policies, and result in recording/updating the Software Configuration Management Plan (SCMP) for the project. The SCMP is typically subject to SQA review and audit.
Configuration identification activities provide the basis for other SCM activities. These activities enumerate the configuration items to be controlled(such as plans, specifications, source and executable code, code libraries, data and data dictionaries, testing materials, software tools, and documentation for installation, maintenance, operations and software use), establish identification schemes for the items and their versions, and establish the tools and techniques
to be used in acquiring and managing controlled items.
SCM control activities involve both managers and developers. Managers make decisions on whether some changes in configuration should be made or not, and authorize the changes. Developers perform change activities (code management) in a coordinated manner. Status reports are generated that account for each change in the configuration, and can be of use to various parties in the project, including managers, developers, testers, SQA team members, and
maintenance engineers. The information obtained by status accounting can also serve as a basis for various measurements, such as the number of change requests per software configuration item and the average time needed to implement a change request. Release processing activities support customers and the maintenance team. They are related to identification.
Packaging and delivery of the elements of a product (such as the software, its documentation, release notes, and configuration data), as well as product version management (versions for different platforms or versions with varying capabilities). The software configuration auditing activity determines the extent to which an item satisfies the required functional and physical characteristics. Its ultimate goal is to evaluate the conformance of software products and processes to applicable regulations, standards, guidelines, plans, and procedures.

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