Identify, Protect, and Track: The Principles of Managing Work Products

Table of contents:

Best Practices

Whether you utilize manual or automated processes, here is a list of techniques that should be considered for your configuration management process:

  • Establish central repository First and foremost, define a central repository for the project where all project work documents will be stored. Make sure access to the repository can be controlled and that the appropriate stakeholders have access to it.

    Depending on the type of work products you have, and the type of configuration management tools that you are utilizing, you may have more than one project repository, such as one for all digital documents, and another for software modules.

  • Define review/revision/approval process Define which work products need to be reviewed and approved when any change is made, who can make those changes, who needs to approve those changes, and the associated workflow that needs to be followed.
  • Define a "gatekeeper" Experience has shown tremendous value in establishing someone as the official librarian for the project repository. This person is responsible for controlling access to the repository, updating the repository, and ensuring that the configuration management procedures are being followed.
  • Implement access controls Ensure that te project repository is only accessible to authorized stakeholders and the granted access level is aligned with their role on the project.
  • Establish common directory structure To better organize work products and to make it easier to find them when you need them, it is recommended that a directory structure be defined that is aligned with the project phases and workflow process.
  • Establish file-naming conventions Also in the spirit of better organization of work products, it is recommended that a common convention be defined for naming project work products. The convention(s) provide consistency and help improve project communications and stakeholder expectations as well.
  • Establish version numbering scheme If these guidelines do not exist for your organization already, determine the rules that will govern the versioning scheme for each category of work product. Common elements to consider include version number format, differences between major and minor versions, and conventions to be followed.
  • Establish baselines A key best practice, especially before any milestone-type event on the project, such as phase-end, tollgate, start of a testing phase, or releasing work product to a client. To effectively deal with any quality issues and client expectations, you must be able to clearly define (and maintain) the configuration of a work product at a given point in time.
  • Use standard document sections To help encourage effective configuration management practices, it is recommended that work product templates be developed which contain standard document sections. Document sections that are recommended include the following:

    • Title page
    • Revision History page
    • Approval page
    • Standard Header and Footer formats/data
  • Use a Deliverable Tracker A powerful technique that can be utilized regardless of the sophistication of your process. Develop a mechanism to identify and track the status of your project work products. For lack of a better term, I will call this your deliverable tracker. This can be done with a simple spreadsheet program. Table 12.1 summarizes the key recommendations for your Deliverable Tracker.

    Table 12.1. Deliverable Tracker Recommendations




    Work Product Name

    Targeted work product


    Project Phase

    Name of the project phase

    Can be a column/field, or you can use separate tab/ sheet for each project phase

    Modification Type

    For this phase, is the work product created or updated?


    Work Product File Name

    Actual file name of the work product

    Tip: hyperlink to its repository location


    Current version number of work product



    Current status of the work product in this project phase

    In-process, Completed, Approved

    Tip: use color to visually represent the work product status

    CM Indicator

    Flag indicating whether this work product is under CM control

    Most will be YES


    Person responsible for the change


    Target Completion Date

    Scheduled completion date


    Completion Date

    Actual completion date



    Person/group who must approve the change


    Target Approval Date

    Scheduled approval date


    Date Approved

    Actual approval date

  • Back it up Make sure that your project repositories have proper backup procedures in place and that are actually working. You will be glad you did.


    Execute a test of your backup recovery procedures to verify they are working correctlybefore you actually need them.

  • Address needs of different work product types A single configuration management process may not be adequate for your project. You should develop specific configuration management procedures for each type of work product you are managing.
  • Leverage configuration management tools While effective configuration management procedures can be executed using clearly defined manual proceduresand a fair amount of discipline and a central control pointthe process is much easier with configuration management tools. The tools allow you to control access to the repository, control the revision process (only one person can check out the work product for edit at a time), and provide an automatic audit trail.

    Configuration management tools include document management tools, software configuration management tools, enterprise project management tools, enterprise (and web) content management tools, records management tools, and workflow/ collaboration tools.

  • Define product configuration build/release process On any project that deals with a product that is composed of multiple components, a process is needed that properly integrates the components into a final product. This is especially true for any product that represents a system. This process allows for a baseline configuration to be established.
  • Develop Configuration Management Plan This is where you document all of the configuration management best practices you are going to utilize for your project. The configuration management plan allows you to communicate the procedures and rules that the project will follow and to gain agreement on the plan. We will discuss some recommended sections for the configuration management plan in the next section.


    Ensure appropriate team members are properly educated and trained on the configuration management tools and procedures.

    Use archive folders to maintain access to previous versions and to improve organization.

  • Leverage archive folders A simple but powerful technique to help you manage (and not lose) project information is to always create an "archive" folder within a specific project directory to hold any previous versions, as illustrated in Figures 12.1 and 12.2. This is especially useful for digital work items that are not managed by a configuration management tool. This practice also has the added benefits of better organization and better visibility of the most current work items.

    Figure 12.1. Sample use of archive subfolder.


    Figure 12.2. Sample contents of archive subfolder showing previous versions.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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