There are two meanings for the project management process of configuration management.
1. It can be used for the process of identifying, tracking, and managing of all the physical assets of a project. The items that you track under configuration management are called "configuration items" in the Capability Maturity Model (CMMI).
2. It can also refer to the process of identifying, tracking and managing of all the characteristics of the assets of a project. These characteristics can also be referred to as product "metadata." This is closer to the definition of configuration management in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) from the Project Management Institute.
The following model describes the five major aspects of configuration management.Planning. You need to plan ahead to create the processes, procedures, tools, files, and databases for managing the project assets or the metadata. You also may need to gain an agreement on exactly what assets are important, how you will define them, how they will be categorized, classified, numbered, reported, etc. The results of this up-front planning are documented in a Configuration Management Plan.
Part of your planning process should be to assign configuration tracking numbers to each type of configuration item.Tracking. It's important to understand the baseline for all configuration items. In other words, for each configuration item, you need to understand what you have at the beginning of the project. In many cases, you may have nothing to start with. In other cases, like physical assets, you may have some assets to begin with. The purpose of your tracking processes is to ensure that you can track all changes to a configuration item throughout the project.
You need processes and systems designed to identify when assets are assigned to your project, where they go, what becomes of them, who is responsible for them and how they're disposed of. Since a project has a beginning and end, ultimately all the assets need to go somewhere. This could be in a final deliverable, into the operations/support area, scrapped, etc. You should be able to dissect each major deliverable of the project and show where all the pieces and parts came from, and where they reside after the project ends.
The auditing process is used to validate that the configuration elements match up with your expectations. These expectations are based on the original baseline, plus any change requests that you have processed up to the current time.