Product vs. Project CM: Straddle the Fence

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policy, planning, scheduling, processes, or project management.  Assuming noninterference at the project level, you can successfully perform CM on the product in an environment devoid of formal CM constructs.  It is possible to produce widget Y on the December 15 target with all requirements satisfied.

In scenario C, I can’t help but point out the fact that widget Y is presented as a standalone effort.  Had there been a widget V-W-Z into which widget Y needed to fit, success would be difficult without good project management and interdependent CM like what we find in a configuration control board (CCB).  Just imagine if you went forward with widget Y without regard for modifications in the preceding and succeeding builds!

Therefore, I recommend that we straddle the fence between product and project CM.  Don’t let poor or absent CM at the project level stifle your ability to perform “the CM way” at the product level.  However, realize that product efforts occurring in environments that nurture CM will invariably nurture the product underway, potentially leading to a healthier product.  Once the environment is in place, the product CM can begin.  [When planning for a CM product, I ensure that I have addressed all tenets of CM through contributions to a project plan, usually drafted by the chief engineer.  In fact, because our organization’s program-level policy requires the inclusion of CM content as part of the project plan format, no project gets approval without my planning sections.]  With a project plan, the team knows the scope of the project, the timeline, the inputs, the expected product, and where to initiate CM activities in each lifecycle phase.

[1] http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3427002.html

About the Author Angela Moore, Certified CM Professional, is a Fortune 500 contractor with 20+ years of experience supporting digital systems engineering through all phases of the lifecycle in the US federal government.  She is a subject-matter expert of CM, Business Process Engineering, Information Management, Quality Management, and Knowledge Management.  A graduate of Duke University, Ms. Moore lives in southern New Jersey and is the proud wife to Lamott and mother to twins Alex and Jacqui.  Her professional motto echoes her passion for the work:  “Get it right the first time!”

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