Project Integration Management

On the surface, the idea of project management is a relatively simple one. There is a defined project, and a person is charged with managing that project from start to finish. Unlike other business endeavors which are open-ended and ongoing, projects are usually defined by having a specific goal and target in mind. Therefore, the management of that project has to do with the day-to-day tasks required to get from the start to the finish successfully. Some projects are more complicated than others, but all need to be managed in some way.

Project Integration Management deals with bringing together various processes within a defined project and making sure that they all work together correctly in order to lead toward a positive conclusion. Even a relatively simple project is likely to have a number of different inputs along the way, such as various departments within an organization working together. The integration management part of the job is important because it seeks to get everything aligned together properly right from the start. A project is unlikely to reach its goals if there is a lack of harmony between the different components in play. Cohesion is vital to any team effort, and projects within a business are almost always a team effort in one manner or another.

There are three general parts that come together to create overall Project Integration Management. Each of these three pieces is important to the outcome, so none of the steps should be missed along the way.

Project Integration Management and Plan Development

This is where the plan for your project really comes together. One of the single most important parts of leading a successful project is having a clear objective of where you are trying to go. After all, it is difficult to arrive at your destination when you don’t know exactly where that destination is in the first place. Project plan development encourages you to knit together all of the various interests and desires related to the project and condense them down into a single statement that can guide future decisions within the project.

Big organizations can specifically benefit from taking their time on this step. Often, there will be a variety of motivations for undertaking a project, and they won’t always be the same across departments within the company. One section of the company might be more interested in getting a new product onto the market as quick as possible, for example, while another department is more interested in quality control. Defining exactly what is going to be valued within the project, and what the specific parameters for the project are going to be, will give everyone a better ‘roadmap’ from which to work.

Project Integration Management and Project Plan Execution

One the plan is in place, there is nothing left to do but make it happen. Usually, this is where the skill of an experienced project manager really starts to shine through. Well-organized plans are great, and necessary, but things will always evolve over time during just about any project. Having the knowledge and experience on your team to execute the plan as it has been laid out is a vital piece of the overall puzzle. The reason that so much time and effort goes into the project plan development is so the execution phase can run as seamlessly as possible.

Rather than making tough decisions at this point, the project team should be able to rely mostly on the plan that was developed ahead of time and use that document to guide their progress. If you are a project manager leading a team toward a specific goal, it will be up to you to stick as close as possible to the plan while simultaneously adapting as needed.

Project Integration Management and Integrated Change Control

Speaking of adapting, that is what integrated change control is all about. While you are working on a project, some things are likely to change from what was initially planned at the start. Perhaps the price of a raw material from a supplier has increased and you have to change suppliers midway through the project. Maybe a member of the project team leaves the organization and you have to substitute a new person into the mix. Whatever the change happens to be, having an integrated process in place is vital.

One problem that organizations both large and small can run into during a project is not having everyone on the same page throughout the project. Using the example above, if you have changed suppliers for a specific material and not everyone in your organization is aware of that fact, you could waste time chasing down information from a company you don’t even deal with anymore. Changes should be coordinated as tightly as possible so that everyone who needs specific information has it in front of them right away. Change is inevitable in projects – and in business in general – so planning on change and having a system for coping with those changes throughout your team is a mark of a well-run project.

As a project manager, it is up to you to integrate all of the moving parts of a project so they each serve toward the same goal. It is easy to have plenty of work getting done, but much of it can be wasted if the project isn’t integrated properly right from the start. Rather than finding out later that you are moving in different directions with various sections of the project team, get everyone pointed in the right direction from the beginning.

It is hard to imagine a successful business in any field that doesn’t run successful projects on a regular basis. While they are usually closed-ended in terms of project scope, there are usually many projects going on at any given time within a company. Whether you own a business and want to run it more successfully, or you are a leader tasked with completing a specific project on time and on budget, good project integration management is a step that you don’t want to ignore.

Key Points

  • Project integration management involves coordinating all the other processes of project management to ensure that the project is completed as efficiently as possible.
  • What this means in practice is deciding where to focus project management effort as well as coordinating all of the project activities at the right time and in the right way to achieve project success.
  • Complex projects need more management tools and techniques than small projects and a project manager needs to know which tools to use and when.
  • Project integration management is designed to help you with these decisions and aims to ensure that all areas of the project management methodology being used have been considered and either used or rejected as applicable.

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