Configuration auditing occurs so we can verify that what we said we were going to do actually happened. MIL-STD-973 specifies two flavors of auditing: functional and physical. Functional configuration auditing occurs when we verify that the change functions as the engineering change proposal specified it would. A change can be to hardware, software, or both (firmware).
A physical configuration audit verifies that the proper documentation for the change exists and meets standards. Such documentation may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Training material
- The engineering change proposal itself [sometimes we see the term engineering change notice (ECN) or engineering change request (ECR)]
- Test documentation (including plan and results and any incident reports)
If we are talking about a major release in the automotive world, we can expect to be required to general a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) warrant, with the associated 18 documents.
Sometimes, the physical configuration audit is more exacting and trying than is the functional configuration audit. Regardless, these audits are a key component of managing change and configurations in any business and should NEVER be overlooked or dismissed.