MIL-HDBK-61A: Scope

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1.3.2 CM Benefits, Risks and Cost Impact

Configuration Management provides knowledge of the correct current configuration of defense assets and the relationship of those assets to associated documents. The CM process efficiently manages necessary changes, ensuring that all impacts to operation and support are addressed.

The benefits of the process should be obvious but are often overlooked. ANSI/EIA-649 summarizes the benefits of CM from an industry view, as follows:

  • Product attributes are defined. Provides measurable performance parameters. Both Buyer and Seller have a common basis for acquisition and use of the product.

  • Product configuration is documented and a known basis for making changes is established. Decisions are based on correct, current information. Production repeatability is enhanced.

  • Products are labeled and correlated with their associated requirements, design and product information. The applicable data (such as for procurement, design or servicing the product) is accessible, avoiding guesswork and trial and error.

  • Proposed changes are identified and evaluated for impact prior to making change decisions. Downstream surprises are avoided. Cost and schedule savings are realized.

  • Change activity is managed using a defined process. Costly errors of ad hoc, erratic change management are avoided.

  • Configuration information, captured during the product definition, change management, product build, distribution, operation, and disposal processes [the equivalent of the DoD acquisition life cycle], is organized for retrieval of key information and relationships, as needed. Timely, accurate information avoids costly delays and product down time; ensures proper replacement and repair; and decreases maintenance costs.

  • Actual product configuration is verified against the required attributes. Incorporation of changes to the product is verified and recorded throughout the product life. A high level of confidence in the product information is established.

These benefits are equally applicable to Government and industry. Additionally, the effective application of CM principles to defense products contributes to and enhances the partnering environment desired between the DoD and its suppliers.

In the absence of CM, or where it is ineffectual, there may be

  • Equipment failures due to incorrect part installation or replacement;

  • Schedule delays and increased cost due to unanticipated changes;

  • Operational delays due to mismatches with support assets;

  • Maintenance problems, down-time, and increased maintenance cost due to inconsistencies between equipment and its maintenance instructions; and,

  • Numerous other circumstances which decrease operational effectiveness, and add cost.

The severest consequence is catastrophic loss of expensive equipment and human life. Of course these failures may be attributed to causes other than poor CM. The point is that the intent of CM is to avoid cost and minimize risk. Those who consider the small investment in the CM process a cost-driver may not be considering the compensating benefits of CM and may be ignoring or underestimating the cost, schedule and technical risk of an inadequate or delayed CM process.

Throughout this handbook, selection criteria are provided to aid in making choices concerning implementation of various CM activities and functions. In each applicable instance, the means to complete a benefit/risk analysis is provided.


For correct application of this information, see NOTE on Contents page