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Configuration Management

 

 

An Introduction to

"CONFIGURATION-VALUE MANAGEMENT"

 

the Integration of

 

CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT (CM), VALUE ENGINEERING (VE),

and

INCENTIVE PROGRAMS FOR INNOVATION

By Craig A. Stevens

http://www.cmresourceguide.com/articles.htm

   CHEAP-PLOY-TO-GRAB-ATTENTION

 

            What a terrible nightmare!  Your company was going bankrupt and your job was ending.  Worse than that, you were being held personally responsible for a release of toxic gases that injured six employees, people you've worked with for years.  They would never be able to support their families again.  Everything you worked for -- your family, your home -- was hanging in the balance. 

 

             What happened?  How could things turn around so fast?  Just last week you sent Matthew, your oldest son, off to college, and you received a bonus for having the highest productivity rating in the company's history.  The new TQM program was really starting to work, and your people were starting to shine. 

 

            That was before the big accident.  A short cut, that's all it was.  You saved the company big bucks.  It was logical.  After all, you're an engineer; you know metallurgy (pretty well).  All of those expensive tests and reviews were just slowing things down............

 

A simple change -- like the one to a safety system in the nightmare above -- can devastate your personal and professional life as effective as a time-bomb.  Without control of changes to systems that are critical to your company, things can happen that are equivalent to a sudden explosion.

 

 If the lack of change control can be compared to a time-bomb then the lack of innovation may be compared to erosion.  Perhaps slowly, your market share and profits have been eroding away.  Other companies may have improved upon your ideas or slowly taken customers away by redefining product quality.  If we haven't tried to increase the value of our products and services to our customer we probably deserve the results.

 

As the subtitle says this was just a  "CHEAP-PLOY-TO-GRAB-ATTENTION."  The fact is Configuration Management is a useful tool and Value Engineering will make it better.

 

 INTRODUCTION

 

 It seems that whenever Value Engineering (VE)[1] practitioners speak about the VE methodology someone in the audience asks how VE compares with other management initiatives.  An individual may explain that her firm is using Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing, Kepner-Tregoe problem solving, or Total Quality Management (TQM) to increase competition.  The hidden question is, "Why should we use VE instead of some other buzzword from the parade of  management fads?"  In the same way one would not use a screwdriver to solve all automotive problems, likewise, management tools and systems require  similar logic.   In this paper we will attempt to answer, in part, the hidden question by showing a relationship that can be developed between Configuration Management (CM), Innovation Incentives, and VE.  By integrating CM, VE, and Incentive Programs for the creativity that leads to innovation, we can encourage change while we control changes to critical systems.

 

 WHAT ARE THE GOALS FOR MANAGING CHANGES TO PHYSICAL SYSTEMS? 

 

Our goals for managing change to physical systems should include:

  • soliciting ideas from every available source,

  • reviewing and improving ideas that have been provided,

  • screening negative changes (especially to critical systems),

  • implementing positive changes, 

  • creating an environment that is fair and full of innovative, happy, involved, motivated, and productive people.

 WHAT ARE THE TOOLS TO MEET OUR GOALS?

 

There are three basic tools we would like to introduce to you for meeting these goals: Configuration Management, Value Engineering, and Incentive Programs for Creativity.  The integration of these three proven management techniques creates a single program we can call "Configuration-Value Management (CVM).

 

WHAT IS CONFIGURATION MANAGEMENT?

 

The term "configuration" refers to the form, fit, or function of a physical system as determined by the arrangement of its parts.  The configuration of a production line in a manufacturing plant is the machines, equipment, and systems used, along with the position, function, and physical relationships between each of the items.  Critical systems are those that are vital to company issues, such as quality, productivity, and safety. 

 

Configuration Management is a disciplined approach to identify, document, and control the functional and physical characteristics of critical systems.  CM ensures that certain changes to the configuration of critical systems are identified, controlled, approved, and documented throughout the system's life cycle. 

 

WHAT IS VALUE ENGINEERING?

 

VE started as a procurement tool used to identify alternatives to critical material during World War II.  It then became both a procurement and manufacturing tool.  The construction industry is following suit and VE is having great impact on that industry.

 

VE is still evolving and it has entered a new phase driven by the changing business environment.  The emphasis today and into the future is focused on the cost of doing business, time to market, quality products and after market services.[2]  Although the scope application of VE has changed the basic methodology has not.

 

VE is a dynamic team approach that uses Function Analysis and the VE Job Plan to add value to a product, process, or service.  VE is not a single initiative, or even multiple initiative, it is a methodology that embraces all initiatives and skills that make a business successful.[3]

 

HOW CAN A COMPANY BENEFIT FROM CONFIGURATION-VALUE MANAGEMENT?

 

Each of the systems integrated into CVM can have distinct benefits.  Other not so favorable attributes, however, can also be connected to them.  The integration process provides a check on some of the negative aspects and overlaps possibly weaker areas with stronger ones (See Table 1).

 

=============================================================

 

Benefits of CVM

Table 1

  1. Put safety and quality First - CM

  2. Lower cost - CM & VE

  3. Document changes - CM

  4. Prevent environmental damage - CM

  5. Prevent equipment damage - CM

  6. Prevent litigation - CM

  7. Improve Competitiveness - CM, VE & Incentives

  8. Evaluate changes - CM & VE

  9. Satisfy Change Management regulations*  - CM

  10. Focus on functional requirements - VE

  11. Develop and evaluate innovative ideas - CM & VE

  12. Raise value - VE

  13. Improve designs and methods - VE

  14. Increase employee participation - VE & Incentives

  15. Improve innovation - VE & Incentives

  16. Increase job satisfaction - VE & Incentives

  17. Decrease misuse of control systems - Incentives

* For example, CM will satisfy OSHA's recent ruling, 29 CFR 1910.119 on process       safety, "Management of Change" for highly hazardous chemicals.

 

=============================================================

 

One of the potential problems with CM is that creative improvements may be stifled, especially if the CM program is improperly designed or becomes too ridged.  As an example,  consider the case study below. 

 

=============================================================

 The Case of Bureaucratic CM 

 

Problem:  A large utility with a CM system that virtually ensured only the most necessary changes was made.  The problem was that the CM program was designed poorly and was unrealistic.  The lists of critical items were too long.  Thousands of systems were included.  However, many of the listed items were not really critical.  Offices and bathrooms made the list.  Almost every proposal for a change had to go to a technical review board.  The chain of information flow required too many signatures.  The change proposal forms that employees had to fill out were extensive, and virtually no assistance was available.

 

Effect:  When changes were requested, response time was too long.  Hundreds of change requests were waiting for approval.  Reviews were therefore not always responsive and sometimes superficial.  No one wanted to have unnecessary changes, and so the department heads ended up fighting innovation.  Some frustrated employees changed systems without design review.

 

Results:  The results were the equivalent of not having change control to some critical systems and almost no innovation.

=============================================================

 

Even with a well-designed CM system, good ideas at inopportune times may be screened out or lost.  VE and incentives' programs can help to solve these problems.  The incentives help to supply ideas and VE provides the design review required to ensure that every idea not presently necessary for implementation is recorded and reviewed.  The value analysis process improves innovation by providing a structured approach to reviewing ideas.  Together, each of these management tools helps to improve the innovation process and management of change in technology environments.

 

WHERE DO WE START IMPLEMENTING CVM?

 

There are many "where to start" possibilities; let's start with top management support.  Because CVM requires so much control over critical systems, only top management support can ensure that the resources and priorities exist.

After top management, building the infrastructure to support the systems becomes very important. 

  • Quality assurance and information management systems are required to ensure   quality and track, collect, and store important documents. 

  • Numbering systems and archives for drawings will have to exist and be operable.  Numbering trees must allow easy access to all related drawings. 

  • Support personnel should be available to run the systems. 

  • Support procedures and polices must be in place, and correct as-built drawings should be required in contracts for work done by contractors or sub-contractors.

Once the infrastructure is in place, the process of building a CM program can start.  CM requires discipline, organizational structure, and a systematic CM approach that works the first time. This is important because with a proper CM program the stage is set to provide a framework for the integration of VE into the CM process. Incentive programs are used to add a flow of creative ideas and to ensure some of these ideas make their way to innovation.

 

The environments in which we place CVM dictate the systems and organizations required.  The CVM process must be designed to fit the individual environment and the specific needs of the industry.  Environments may include one or more of the following:

  • product design,

  • manufacturing,

  • facility management,

  • computer services,

  • transportation,

  • administrative support, and

  • publishing.

The system should also be designed to fit the size of the environment.  Small companies require less infrastructure than larger companies.  To understand the integration of CM, VE, and incentives we must first understand the individual systems.

 

WHAT MAKES UP CM PROGRAMS?

 

 The CM program can be subdivided into four practices:

  1. configuration identification,

  2. configuration control,

  3. configuration status accounting, and

  4. configuration verification.

Configuration Identification (CI) is the set of all documentation required to: design, build, test, operate, and regulate the systems being controlled.  CI is represented by the as-built drawings, technical baselines, operating procedures, and documents upkeep. 

 

Part of the identification process is baselining critical systems.  Baselining refers to the process of ensuring that the documentation reflects the configuration of a physical system.  A baseline is established by approval of applicable technical documentation defining the system or equipment at a specific time.  Not all systems should be baselined and therefore require CM.  To identify the configurations that require CM, we must identify the "critical systems."  

 

To identify critical systems, selection criteria may be used to specify the systems critical to productivity, quality, cost of operations; employee, customer, environmental, and/or community safety; and company reputation, to name a few.  As an example,  critical systems as defined by 29 CFR 1910.119 would include processes/systems related to toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive chemicals as defined and/or listed in the ruling.

 

The types of critical systems related to the criteria may fall into categories such as management systems, procedures, mechanical systems, production processes, safety systems, products, documents, computer systems, and software. 

 

It is important to review all possible critical systems as candidates for configuration control -- but don't go overboard.  If systems are incorrectly defined as critical, you can waste time and money controlling unnecessary items. 

 

Configuration Control, is the act of controlling changes to the configuration of the critical systems.  The backbone of this control process is the disciple required to maintain control.  Out of specification changes to critical systems are not allowed unless change proposals are approved.  Change proposals are used to request (propose) a change to an existing system or to baseline an exiting system. 

 

If critical systems lists are too large, the CM program could become overburdened as illustrated in the case study.  The backbone of the control process is the discipline required for a company to guarantee control. 

 

Among the tools used to ensure proper control are change proposals.  Change proposals are used to request (propose) a change or to baseline an existing system.  "Baseline" refers to the creation of documentation reflecting the configuration of a system for a specific, referenced time.

 

The change proposal can be thought of as a package made up of a form and all necessary descriptive documents, drawings, and information required to make a decision on a proposed design change.  Several different change proposal uses may be as follows:

  • Record a proposed change to the present configurations of a system.

  • Baseline the present systems if there is reason to believe that the drawings, documents, etc., do not reflect accurately the actual configuration of the critical systems.

  • Record a proposed change to the configuration of a system  that  is being developed or built (under contract).

  • Record a development or testing phase change.  This mechanism is designed for research leading to innovation.

One of the most important parts of the control process is change proposal screening.  Different classes of changes (segregated by cost, down time, safety, etc.) require different levels of review.  If decisions are not made at the lowest possible levels, the change control process will also tend to become over-burdened (as in the case study), requiring too much time for the important changes to take place.

 

Priority classifications, such as routine, urgent, and emergency, also have profound effects on the time required for the review process.  An emergency situation may require action first and design reviews later.  On the other hand, a routinely slow review time could lead to excessive downtime or innovative misuse of the CM process, leading to the equivalent of not having control at all.

 

In large companies, there may be several appropriate parties responsible for screening change proposals including engineers, facility/process supervisors, project/program managers, and technical advisors (electrical, mechanical, industrial, safety, quality, etc.). In smaller companies, one or two people may possess all the required resources to screen the proposed change. 

 

VE integration.  As we bring VE into the picture, a natural location for VE design review would be in the initial screening phases of the CM process.  Furthermore, incentives should be used to guarantee that everyone is motivated to use the control processes (firing squads are nice).

 

Configuration Status Accounting are the processes and systems required to track, file, verify and audit the entire CM program.  In large companies, the status accounting aspect often requires a CM office that may consist of a CM manager, Physical Verification Teams (PVTs), and administrators. 

 

The PVTs physically verifies all changes and as-builts to ensure that they have gone in as approved and are reflected accurately on drawing and print.  PVTs also examine old systems to ensure they are recorded accurately.  The PVT may be a part of a matrix type organization.  This would permit the members to change, allowing the teams to be made up of a variety of different mixtures of expertise and experiences.  Smaller companies could delegate the required CM responsibilities to other key personnel -- for example, the plant engineer may be the PVT.

 

One of the fundamentals of a good CM program is a strategic placement of key CM personnel (CM manager, CM office) within the company's organization.  They need an adequate level of authority.  The position of CM manager may be a staff position.  CM under any departmental group (maintenance, engineering, operations, etc.) could and sometimes does become controlled by the politics of that group.

 

Configuration Verification deals directly with the audit processes.  Audits of CM systems are required to ensure that records and procedures, as well as the time elements, are intact and are being adhered to.  Audits of the systems being controlled ensures that:

  • as-built drawings reflect actual configuration,

  • baselines have been updated, and

  • implementation has taken place as approved.

HOW CAN WE INTEGRATE VALUE ENGINEERING WITH CM?

An additional step in the configuration control process of CM can be added to funnel changes not required by circumstance to a value engineering team. 

The VE process is rational, structured, and accommodates objectives as well as subjective measures of worth. It features:

  • Deliberate selection of focused problems to study, based on predetermined criteria such as item cost, complexity, materials, or experience;

  • Primary focus on the functions that must be performed with secondary interest in what else the item can do;

  • Application of team dynamics and interdisciplinary approaches to optimize  creativity;

  • A time limit to avoid losing opportunities for change though schedule advancement;

  • Use of life cycle costing methods to minimize the total cost of ownership (capital, operation, maintenance, disposal) while fully satisfying functional requirements.

An emphasis is placed on the functional characteristics related to the processes being reviewed.  The VE process is implemented through use of the job plan. The job plan is a systematic process with five to seven phases. Example of a five phased VE method is provided next. 

 

Information Phase.  Information is collected related to the project, product, or system.

 

Information may include the present design drawings/specifications, complete cost data, procedures, present shortcomings, flow charts, etc. The functions performed are defined at this point. 

 

Creative Phase. Brainstorming techniques (team dynamics) are used to provide alternative methods of accomplishing the functions. The team looks at one function at a time and provides alternative methods to achieve them. 

 

If there is one rule that is stressed during the creative phase, it would be that there are no bad ideas.  Critical (negative) evaluation is placed on hold.  The stifling effects of negative comments are eliminated.  The logic here is that even inappropriate ideas may lead to good ideas.

 

Evaluation Phase.  The ideas obtained during the creative phase are evaluated.  If additional ideas occur they too are evaluated.  Ideas may be redefined, combined, or subdivided in order to improve the thought processes.  An improved and/or lower-cost means of accomplishing the functions is the goal.

 

Investigation Phase.  Alternatives developed during the creative and evaluation phases are examined.  The goal is the best possible solution.

 

Implementation Phase.  A recommendation is made and submitted for approval.  If the recommendation affects a critical system, the CM process is started.

Other variations are possible, but all follow the basic scientific method: determine the purposes, gather information, hypothesize alternatives, evaluate them, choose one, and do it.

 

WHAT ABOUT INCENTIVES?

Incentives can be used to boost the creativity levels within organizations.  The trick is to provide the right incentives for the people involved.  Someone once said, "What motivates people is what motivates people."  Appropriate incentives vary based on the person, the type of organization, the level of employee participation, and the work environment.  They are not always financial in nature.

 

Employee.  What incentives can be used to persuade employees (contractors, etc.) to offer creative ideas for the benefit of the company?

 

Creative people enjoy the process of creating.  People often consider ideas that they have created, which have been implemented by the company, and later credited to the them as sufficient reward.  Ideas related to designed products that bring the company great rewards should, in most cases, bring the individual inventor(s) comparable rewards.  A company reputation for sharing profits from design genius with the designer(s) will spread innovation like wildfire -- provided accurate records of fair and honest practices are kept.

 

User or Customer.  What incentives would motivate the customer or user to provide useful ideas?

 

Customers and users are already motivated to help the supplier meet their needs or wants.  A good customer relations will benefit the company greatly.  Customers want friendly responsive humans to talk to.  If customers can provide a design tip that has the possibility of winning a trip or providing income, they will spend many sleepless nights (not on your overhead) researching it; for them it beats the lottery -- for you it is cheap innovation. 

 

General Public and Community. What would make the general public respond to a call for ideas?

 

Every city has talent that can be found in schools, colleges, inventor groups, or creative people.  Contests have been targeted at these groups and used to generate ideas in many ways.   Inventors have also knocked on doors trying to get someone to answer, be open to these people. 

 

To Increase Innovation and take advantage of the ideas that employees, customers, users, and general public; a couple of things are required of your company:

  1. easy rules to follow, 

  2. history of trustworthiness and a reputation for honest and fair practices, 

  3. an infrastructure to act on the ideas (value engineering screening group, customer service and marketing group, etc.),

  4. incentives for the ideas, and

  5. good communications.

In general, good inventions require safety and profit for the inventor(s) before there is motivation to part with the idea.  A large part of this is based on ethics related to good values.  Ethics in industry, as well as at home, has many benefits.  In both cases it starts at the top.

 

The next step is related to using the idea.  Some ideas are useful at first sight; others may never be useful.  One of the first steps in using the idea is to apply value analysis/VE to the proposed design.

 

The VE team often works well in an environment that allows them to share in the savings or profits of the company.  Volunteers may even be used the with promise of delayed rewards.  The only conflict here is related to the inventor and improver.  Everyone must be treated fairly.

 

Incentives To Use CM are almost totally negative.  But, before you can punish a person for not using the system you must first ensure that:

  1. A system is set-up in the first place.

  2. The system works.

  3. The company is not to blame by unofficially approving such actions (as long as no one finds out).

  4. The act was a premeditated disregard of policy.  Someone once put it this way to an employee who made a $100,000 mistake, "We can't fire you now, we spent to much money educating you what not to do."

  5. The policy, rules, or procedures are known and used, and people are well trained.

One thing that does not work is unwarranted threats to job security, promotion, or other professional or personal assets.  Whenever a manager uses poor management techniques like this, she/he is at risk of legal action or at least losing the trust of otherwise good employees.    

  

CONCLUSION

 

Managing change is required to ensure quality, productivity, safety, innovation, and competitiveness. The key to control is a well-organized Configuration Management system. The CM system should be designed to provide suitable checks and balances so that required changes can be made in a timely manner. CM is performed (organizationally) outside the group proposing a change, but should be screened at the lowest levels, which may be inside the group.

 

Control is half of the picture; the other half is innovation. Innovation requires creative thought and can be improved by using the systematic approach of Value Engineering.  VE is an organized method of ensuring a structured approach to the thought processes required to add value to a process or system.  However, ideas should also be solicited from outside the VE process.  People want to contribute ideas, and sometimes only the motivation and infrastructure to do this is missing.

The integration of systems, infrastructure, and motivation required to manage change is what we have called Configuration-Value Management.

 

REFERENCES

 

KAUFMAN, J.J. and Carter, J.L.,  "Introduction to Value Engineering, Past Present and Future, Society of American Value Engineers XXXIII International Conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1993.

 

"Managing Change with Configuration-Value Management; The Integration of Configuration Management, Value Engineering, and Incentive Programs for Innovation,"  Stevens, C.A.,  American Society for Engineering Management, 12th Annual Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on October 20-23, 1991.

 

"Configuration Management and Its role in Safety -- Related to 29 CFR 1910.119,"  Stevens, C.A., 9Th Annual International Maintenance Conference, Nashville TN, October 1993.

 

"A half day session on Managing Change including: "Change Management -- The human side of change," "Facilitating Change -- Improving competitiveness," and "Controlling Change -- Configuration Management and Value Engineering,"  Stevens, C.A. (Moderator/Speaker), S. Gambrell, L. McCartney, N. O'Connor, and Farris Jordan PhD, sponsored by The Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), East Tennessee Chapter, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and Innovative Resources and Systems (IRaS) at WATTec, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Knoxville, Tennessee, February 18-21, 1992. 

 

Stevens, C.A., K. Wright, "Managing Change with Configuration Management, What are the issues related to Quality and Productivity?"  National Productivity Review, page 509, Executive Enterprises Publications Co., New York, NY, Fall 1991.

"Managing Change with Configuration-Value Management; The Integration of Configuration Management, Value Engineering, and Incentive Programs for Innovation,"  Stevens, C.A., R.F. Brown [P.E.], M. Owens, P. Thompson, R. Best, L. Stevens, 1991 Design Productivity Institute and International Conference, Honolulu, HI, February 3-9, 1991.

 

Stevens, C.A., R.F. Brown [P.E.], K. Wright, R. Best, "Using Configuration Management to Maintain Quality and Productivity in a Competitive World," 3rd International Conferences on Productivity and Quality Research, Session on Total Quality Management - Focus Issues, Miami FL, February 20-22, 1991. Proceeding's Productivity and Quality Management Frontiers-III, page 427, Industrial Engineering and Management Press Institute of Industrial Engineers, Norcross, GA, 1991.

Stevens, C.A., "Configuration Management (CM), What is it? Why is it important? And Who needs it?," Proceedings of the WATTec'90 Session on Managing Change, WATTec'90 17th Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 1989.

Maynard, Industrial Engineering Handbook, 3rd ED., McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971.

 

1993..Biographical Sketches of Authors

 

Craig A. Stevens works for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in Oak Ridge Tennessee.  He was nominated as IIE 1992 Young Engineer of the Year, elected as the 1991-92 Chapter president, and selected as the 1990 Engineer of the Year by the East Tennessee, Chapter 11 of IIE.  He has provided services for over 75 different companies and organizations.  He is doing post graduate work in Industrial and Systems Engineering/Engineering Management through The University of Alabama in Huntsville and has a B.S. in IE and M.S. in Engineering Management/IE at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 

 

Steven Gambrell has ten years experience in technical and corporate communication planning and management consulting.  He has a B.S. in Corporate/Business Communications and a M.S. in Corporate & Public Affairs Management and Market Planning.  He is a consultant  for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Martin Marietta Energy Systems in Oak Ridge and teaches communication classes at Pellissippi State Technical Community College. 

Together Steve and Craig have written several papers and articles, and presented several workshops and presentation on management issues.  Presently they are working on a book about change management.

 

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