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 PRINCE2 Configuration Management | PM Tools - PM Tools

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PRINCE2 Configuration Management

Document Management is a key underpinning activity for running a project in line with the PRINCE2 method. It supports the Configuration Management and Change Control components. 

…so how do you do it?

Like many aspects of implementation PRINCE2 does not specify how you are to achieve this in practice. PRINCE2 tells you the what but not the how. While this makes perfect sense, because the method can accommodate all kinds of document management systems from the homespun to the full-blown corporate knowledge management database, it does leave you with the question:

“How are you going to do the document management?”This is a common problem particularly for individuals promoting PRINCE2 and smaller organisations trying to adopt a true project culture for the first time. On the one hand your team can see the benefits that using PRINCE2 will bring – on the other you have the question hanging in the air:


“You mean we are going to have to write all these new documents and do configuration management and do change control on them all?”

Yes that’s right – and deliver the project to time and cost constraints just like before! All of a sudden PRINCE2 starts to look a bit difficult. Let’s unpick some of the issues.

Lots of Document Types

PRINCE2 describes over thirty different management product (document) types that you may or may not use on any given project. In practice you may choose to combine some of these and not use others, but there will always be a large core of mandatory documents you will need to employ.

Remember these are the just thirty or so document types. Some of them get repeated in the project or in each stage. That’s a lot of documents. There are plenty of resources for document templates – OGC being the primary one – but you have to configure them for your team, prescribe which ones to use where and when.

Configuration Management

In PRINCE2 Configuration Management is one of the eight named components. It lays out a classical method for controlling the configuration of a system (the project) that consists of many parts (the products).

This is a concept borrowed from conventional engineering, and latterly software engineering. I have to be honest and say that it is really quite hard to do properly in a project setting. If you think you are doing it well, particularly in a small organistion, please write because we are keen to see and learn from examples of best practice.

I believe the difficulty arises from a mix of culture and lack of support tools.


Culturally, engineers are brought up thinking about “configurations” and version control in their plans and designs.

Even software developers, who often don’t want to have the discipline imposed on their creativity, are normally exposed to the version control culture. It is enforced by using a version control system like CVS or Source Safe.

By contrast, imagine a typical non-technical project team with a multi-disciplinary crew. They are not doing a civil engineering project but, say, a marketing campaign. The idea of configuration management will be new.

It may seem like a good idea right up until the point when you have to do it in practice.

How PROJECT in a Box can Help

In a nutshell, PROJECT in a Box is the tool that can help you bridge the gap between theory and practice in the key PRINCE2 activity of Configuration Management.

Your team can write Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, project plans, drawings just like normal, and PROJECT in a Box puts them in the PRINCE2 project context – doing your configuration mangement along the way.

(By the way, it also has reporting, portfolios, team sharing – other tools you need run the project.)

Find out more about the free Community Edition or the Full PROJECT in a Box, or please do contact us to discuss – we would be delighted to hear your experiences implementing effective document management.

Malcolm West has fifteen years experience managing, supervising and supporting projects across many industry sectors and in many countries. The author of P2ABC and other popular scaled methods and an APM national award winner.

Malcolm West
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