Every project is a little bit different, each with its own unique set of objectives and desired outputs. Each may also see your agency working with several different departments and points of contact as you develop the final deliverable.
It’s working with those different parties that makes project integration management necessary. Without this type of management, it can be difficult to ensure that all teams communicate well and that processes flow as they should be.
So, what’s the best way to go about project integration management? We’ll examine the answers below.
Defining project integration management
Project integration management is a big task. Doing it right means that you take the elements of a project — the individual tasks, all the resources involved, the deliverables you need to create, the project schedule complete with deadlines, the knowledge areas of each of your team members, and the project’s stakeholders — and bring it all together. The goal is to ensure that processes run efficiently to meet your benchmarks.
It’s a crucial part of project management in jobs where you expect interplay between different teams and processes. Sometimes, when that interplay happens, you run into conflicts, be they scheduling conflicts, cost disparities, or conflicting goals.
Project integration management means sorting these conflicts out and making trade-offs where needed so that you and your team can complete the project according to stakeholder expectations.
Example of project integration management
Imagine a marketing team and an engineering team. The marketing team needs to develop content to generate buzz or send pre-release data to key stakeholders. You’d use project integration management to make sure that the engineering team properly hands off the project documents that the marketing team needs to develop their content so they can meet their deliverables.
7 steps to better project integration management
Now you know what project integration management is all about — but how exactly does it work? Or, if you’ve already implemented project management integration, where can you improve?
Follow the seven steps below to build out or improve your project integration management processes.
1) Develop a project charter
The first step in coordinating a project is to develop the project charter. This preliminary document outlines the roles and responsibilities needed throughout the project, such as goals, objectives, and deliverables.
Remember, this should be a general document. It doesn’t need to get down to granular details, since those often change once the project is underway. Rather, it should serve as a baseline, outlining the broad strokes of the entire project so that everyone can follow it through to completion — kind of like a road map to guide teams throughout the project lifecycle.
2) Make a project management plan (and create a scope statement)
Next up comes the project planning process. Start by getting the project infrastructure set up. This includes the project management plan you’ll follow to guide the project, project management software for you and your team, communications to bring everyone together, file-sharing systems, etc.
Define the project goals, timeline, budget, specific project activities, project deliverables, and any resource constraints.
Another key part of this step is creating the scope statement — an essential document that can help you prevent scope creep.
Partway through the project, you can always practice scope management by referring to the scope statement if it looks like things might go above and beyond what’s outlined. It can also be edited and revised throughout the project.
However, before you add to the project’s scope, make sure everyone is on board — including the stakeholders, who should pay for any additional deliverables.
3) Delegate tasks and execute on the work
Once you hash out the plan, the next step is to get to work. This phase starts with delegation. Develop a system or use an app to assign tasks to relevant team members and track who those tasks went to and the progress of each. Clear task assignments lead to effective project execution and team accountability. This will be useful throughout the project.
Beyond that, this phase involves executing the requested work, managing project work, managing resources as you go, and adopting changes to the initial plan and project scope where needed.
Again, be on the lookout for scope creep. Keep the scope statement handy so you can use it as a road map to prevent the project from ballooning to something beyond the initial expectations.
4) Manage project work and knowledge
The project manager isn’t just responsible for all their own work — they’re ultimately responsible for the entire team’s, too.
Monitoring progress, problem-solving for issues, and keeping the current project on time and within budget fall under the project manager’s to-do list. Plus, to ensure future projects’ success, project managers must also capture, digest, and manage project knowledge.
This way, your agency can learn from project successes and failures, iterate as you take on new projects and clients, and ultimately produce better deliverables. As the team learns, it should harness the knowledge to help refine future efforts.
Conducting periodic reviews, creating an internal knowledge base, and establishing a single source of truth can enhance project success.
5) Monitor and track project performance
This phase happens in conjunction with project execution. As the project progresses, one of the most important things a project manager will do is track the project’s progress. Doing this means tracking performance using metrics most relevant to your team and the project itself.
This will likely include tracking time spent on meetings, project work, and other important parts of the project. Part of this also includes tracking resources used and the project budget.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) and milestones are valuable ways to quickly and accurately assess a project’s health. An agency typically looks at multiple KPIs to gauge performance — both on the agency and project levels. This includes metrics like (but not limited to):
Client satisfaction (CSAT)
Resource utilization (planned vs. actual)
Net promoter score (NPS)
Project timelines (planned vs. actual)
Keeping track of this information will give project managers and agency owners greater insight into potential areas for improvement and can drive more effective resource allocation and decision-making on future projects.
One big aspect of the project that you need to track and control is change requests. Evaluate them to make sure they don’t impact the quality of the project or the project’s scope, and approve and document them (or take corrective action where necessary).
Another element of monitoring and tracking performance is serving as somewhat of a facilitator. Look for areas where team members may be struggling — due to lack of resources, conflicts, or other issues — and do whatever is necessary to resolve these challenges. You’ll also need to foster communication with stakeholders, other teams involved with the project, etc.
6) Perform integrated change control
Project managers are responsible for evaluating, recommending, and documenting potential changes to the project’s layout. Integrated change control starts with a change management plan that helps maximize a project’s chances of completion — even if some aspects are changed after it begins.
A structured change control process can accommodate changes without derailing the project. This includes:
Defining the scope of the change
Measuring the change's impact on the team, timeline, and budget
Adjusting project plans, scope statement, and the timeline accordingly
Sharing the change with all stakeholders
7) Finalize and close out the project
Eventually, all the work will be done, the deliverables handed over, and any changes made. After a successful project, you need to get stakeholder approval to ensure that they’re satisfied with the work — but this is only the start of the closing process.
Get your client’s approval to make sure they’re satisfied with the work.
Conduct project management benchmarking. Take the time to do a formal review of the project. Examine the parts that went well, the struggles, and the potential areas for improvement.
Document everything you can. Take notes about what worked well, what didn’t, and what you can improve in the future.
Ask for feedback from team members. Those in the trenches doing the work will often have valuable insights to help your agency make future projects more efficient. This is where post-mortem meetings are useful — so you can discuss all of this as a team.
Organize and store project materials to conveniently find and use them for future projects.
Benefits of a successful project integration
Successful project integration brings benefits across all aspects of a project, from stakeholder management to risk management, resource management, and cost management. It’s all about saving time and money while delivering a quality product on time and to specifications.
Let’s dive into specifics so you can see some of the most significant benefits.
Enhances overall business efficiency
When you control project work through integrated project management, you streamline the entire workflow. Using the right project templates and project management software further elevates your efforts, helps team members stay focused, and streamlines workflows.
The result? All processes are in sync, and everything moves smoothly from one phase to the next. This translates to cost savings, time savings, and a well-done project.
Provides clarity of scope
You’ve probably heard horror stories about projects in which no one seems to know what’s going on or what needs to happen — and the chaos that ensues from these situations.
Successful integration management eliminates this chaos by giving clearly defined milestones and project objectives. This translates to clarity of scope. The project team will know exactly what needs to be delivered and when. Even if you do need to make changes, you should have an efficient change management system in place so the process flows smoothly.
Ensures streamlined communication with stakeholders
Good communication with stakeholders is a key part of the process — and integrated project management ensures that you’ll have the tools available and the project knowledge to keep them updated as you move along.
This gives stakeholders plenty of time to communicate their project change requests so you can work them into your change control process without a hitch.
Smooth communication also has an additional benefit: It promotes a productive end-of-project meeting. If everyone communicates well throughout, you can keep that trend going so it continues during the post-mortem discussion — which will make that crucial meeting even more effective.
Boost your project success rates with Teamwork.com
There’s a definite business case for practicing project integration management in your agency: Projects can function more efficiently, all stakeholders gain clarity, and the project scope aligns with the original plans.
Task management is a huge part of integrated project management — and for that, you need a great tool to help you delegate tasks and track their progress.
That’s where Teamwork.com comes in. Our platform lets you create and manage detailed tasks so that you and your team have the tools to meet every deadline and nail every deliverable.