Every project is a little bit different, each with its own unique set of objectives and desired outputs. Each may also see you and your team working with several different departments as you strive to create a finished product.
It’s working with those different departments that makes project integration management a necessity. Without this type of management, it can be difficult to ensure that all teams are communicating well, and that processes are flowing 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 you bring it all together. The goal is to ensure that processes run efficiently to meet the benchmarks you’ve set.
It’s a crucial part of project management on jobs in which you expect interplay between different teams and different 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
Envision a marketing team and an engineering team. The marketing team needs to develop content to generate buzz, or to send off 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.
5 steps to better project integration management
Now you’ve got an idea of 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 make improvements? Follow the five steps below to build out or improve your project integration management processes.
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1) Develop a project charter
The first step in coordinating a project is to develop the project charter. This is a preliminary document that outlines the roles and responsibilities needed throughout the project, such as goals, objectives, and deliverables.
The key thing to remember is that this document should be more general in nature. 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) Plan your project (and create a scope statement)
Next up comes the project planning process. Here, you need to do a few things. Start by getting 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 and project deliverables, and any resource constraints.
Another key part of this step is creating the scope statement, which is an essential document that can help you prevent scope creep. Partway through the project, you can always come back to refer to the scope statement if it looks like things might go above and beyond the deliverables outlined within the statement. It’s also something that can be edited and revised throughout the project. However, before you add to the scope of the project, 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 not only assign out tasks to relevant team members, but also a methodology to track who those tasks went to and the progress on each. This will be useful throughout the remainder of 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 your guard to avoid scope creep: Keep the scope statement handy so that you can use it as a road map to prevent the project from ballooning into something that goes beyond the initial expectations.
4) Monitor and track project performance
This phase happens in conjunction with project execution. As the project progresses, one of the most important things you’ll do as project manager is monitor progress. Doing this means tracking performance using whatever metrics are 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.
One big aspect of the project that you need to track and control are change requests. Evaluate them to make sure they don’t impact the quality of the project or the project’s scope, approve and document them (or take corrective action where necessary).
Another element to 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.
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5) Finalize and close out the project
Eventually, all the work will be done, the deliverables handed over, and any changes made. At the conclusion of 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.
Another thing you should do when closing a project is document everything you can. Take notes about what worked well and what didn’t, and what you can improve in the future. It may also be beneficial to ask for feedback from team members. Those in the trenches doing the work will often have valuable insights that can help you make future projects more efficient. This is where post-mortem meetings are useful — so that you can discuss all of this as a team.
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, cost management — you name it. 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 so that 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 kind of 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 that the process flows smoothly.
Ensures streamlined communication with stakeholders
Good communications with stakeholders is a key part of the process — and integrated project management ensures that you’ll have the tools and available project knowledge to keep them updated as you move along. This enables stakeholders to give timely notice of project changes that they want, which lets you work them into your change control process without a hitch.
Smooth communications with your stakeholders also comes with an additional benefit in that it promotes a productive end-of-project meeting. If everyone has communicated well throughout, it’s a trend that should continue during the post-mortem discussion when you examine the ins and outs of the work completed.
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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.
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