Project Integration Management

Learn the most important drivers of successful project integration management.

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Project Integration Management is the “processes and activities needed to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate different processes and activities with project management process groups,” according to the Project Management Institute (PMI).

As one of the PMBOK Guide’s 10 knowledge areas, it is primarily aimed at synchronizing all the different interconnected processes and activities occurring within a project to ensure that they remain working harmoniously, consistently, and sustainably throughout the project lifecycle.

Project management is a complex responsibility that is made especially tedious by many moving parts that need to be supervised and aligned. Project integration management is implemented to ensure the smooth and seamless interaction of people and processes.

7 Key Processes of Project Integration Management

In implementing successful project integration management, seven procedures need to be followed:

1. Develop a Project Charter

The project charter is an official document that authorizes the creation of a new project. Typically, a good project charter would briefly provide the following information:
  • project overview
  • project scope
  • project objectives
  • timeline
  • budget estimation
  • resource plan
  • team organization
  • key stakeholders
  • project deliverables

The project charter also includes the appointment of a project manager, who sets the project in motion and is mandated to utilize the company’s available resources for its execution and completion.

Project management experts agree that developing a sound and workable project charter is indispensable in launching a new project. Aside from charting the course of the project, it dispels guesswork and brings everyone together on the same page. Most importantly, a well-articulated charter can rally support around the project by helping company officials appreciate the business value of this new undertaking and how it can positively impact the organization.

2. Establish a Scope Statement

The second step is to develop a scope statement to identify what is part of the project and what is not. The scope statement specifies not only the project deliverables but also the estimated timeline, significant milestones, and other measurable benchmarks for evaluating success.

A preliminary scope statement is usually a detailed outline and may be subject to slight revision, especially in the early stages of the work in progress. However, it serves a crucial purpose because it draws attention to the resources, methodologies, and strategies that will be applied to the project, minimizing the probability of “scope creep” which occurs when the project scope is not properly defined and contained.

3. Develop a Project Management Plan

If the project charter is the roadmap in Project Integration Management, then the project management plan is the master plan that becomes a crucial reference for decision-making and risk assessment, guiding the way the project is organized and controlled.

In developing the project plan, a project manager brings together the other knowledge areas for effective project management, namely: scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, procurement, stakeholders, and risk management. It should be able to answer questions like:
  • What does the project want to accomplish?
  • How will this be achieved?
  • What resources are needed presently and in the future?
  • Who will be involved and in which phases?
  • How will milestones be reported and measured?
  • How will information be shared amongst team members?
  • What measures can be made to avoid or manage risks?
  • What are the deliverables?

4. Direct and Manage Project Execution

In the Direct and Manage Project Execution process, the team begins to implement the project plan with the aim of producing deliverables on time and within budget. This step comprises the day-to-day functions and activities of project management -- assigning tasks, meetings, communication, time tracking, updates and reports, trouble-shooting, and resource management, among others.

At this point, the project manager has one mission: to ensure that everyone is performing diligently and productively within the project plan and scope statement. A sensible amount of flexibility is also required during this process to accommodate necessary changes caused by unforeseen factors.

Many of today’s project managers and team leaders depend on PM tools to help them keep their resources, budget, and schedules aligned and running more efficiently.

5. Monitor and Control Project Work

Fundamental to effective project management is the monitoring and controlling process. Project work needs to be closely supervised and kept in check to ensure that it abides by the project plan. This process requires the project manager to regularly track, measure, and evaluate the project’s task, cost, and schedule status.

At this stage, the project team – particularly the project manager -- is focused on identifying risk factors, reducing threats, and stamping out issues that may compromise successful project delivery. Team collaboration is of utmost importance. All eyes are on meeting the project objectives as methodically and trouble-free as possible.

6. Perform Integrated Change Control

Earlier, we mentioned about “scope creep,” which happens when there are continuous and uncontrolled changes that occur after the project begins. While changes cannot be entirely avoided, they should be the exception rather than the rule. Even with the most well-laid plan, a project may be subjected to external factors that suddenly require additional budget, time, manpower, or other resources. Left unchecked, these changes can negatively impact the quality of project execution and deliverables.

Often referred to as the “change management process,” the Perform Integrated Change Control process ensures that any request for change is received, reviewed, and acted upon by the project manager according to the approved project plan.

A change control system should be able to address questions that include, but are not limited to:
  • Who can approve or authorize a change?
  • How will the change request form be submitted?
  • What standards are used to review the change request?
  • What is the timeframe for reviewing changes?
  • What is the notification protocol when the change is approved or rejected?
  • What are the steps for documenting the change and communicating it to the team members and other stakeholders?

7. Close Project

Once the project work is completed and deliverables have received final acceptance from the client, it is time to close the project. Within this process, financial reports are consolidated, the procurement process is concluded, all project files are collected and archived, feedback is solicited, and a final performance review is documented.

The performance review indicates the project’s successes and struggles, highlights and challenges, discoveries and lessons learned. This report should also include an evaluation of project management systems or tools that were used, in order to assess whether they were helpful or not.

It is important that everything must be well-recorded and highlight key data points that can serve as reference, not only for implementing future projects, but also for streamlining project integration management processes.

5 Process Groups of Project Management

Project Integration Management ensures that the various elements of the project are properly coordinated. Thus, it is considered to be the most comprehensive of all the knowledge areas because it affects all five phases – or process groups -- of project management.

According to the PMBOK Guide, every project has 5 Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing. They are called “process groups” because each phase contains a set of specific processes that should be performed in order to plan, execute, and manage a successful project.

The creation of the project charter and preliminary scope statement fall under the Initiating phase, while the project management plan is developed within the Planning process. Reports and updates are generated during the Executing and Monitoring phase and Controlling phase. And when the project enters the Closing phase, the project is formally closed and signed-off by the client, its performance review and historical information archived as reference for future projects.

How to Succeed at Project Integration Management

Successful project integration management imposes rigorous demands on a project manager. To be effective, one has to be adept with technical and professional competencies, as well as interpersonal and communication skills.

Leadership, communication, and relationship management skills are vital to good project integration management because project managers handle people, not just plan processes. Team members should be clear about their roles, responsibilities, outputs, and deadlines. It is the role of the project manager to make the scope and objectives clear to everyone on the project team. Points of integration and dependencies should also be identified so that the work flows smoothly and harmoniously. Information sharing must be greatly encouraged.

The best project managers are those with highly developed organizational and administrative skills. Part of the job is to keep track of everyone and everything that is going on, a lot of moving parts that need to be aligned and kept in check. Losing control of resources, costs, and schedules can have immense impacts that would almost definitely lead to project failure.

With the project plan as their guide, project managers are asked to set their eyes on the big picture and to have an almost intuitive ability to detect possible changes and threats, and address them right away before they turn into setbacks.

The project manager is also called to be decisive when the situation calls for either preventive or corrective action – something that can be greatly aided by access to reliable data and information. Knowledge of data analysis and critical thinking are definite plus points, especially in today’s workplace. A growing number of project management systems are readily available to help make integration management easier and more effective for professional service organizations.

Integration Management Made Smarter

Project managers can greatly benefit from a robust solution with management features that can systematize team collaboration, schedule tasks, allocate resources, procure materials, manage outcomes for simultaneous project activities, and organize huge volumes of digital assets for current use and for archiving.

Mavenlink is an award-winning project management software that enables organizations to get their projects up and running faster. It provides real-time visibility through detailed Gantt chart, task lists and threaded communications that helps project managers understand their most pressing needs.

An integrated view of the project resource plan provides a complete and real-time view of project team members and their schedules, while robust and agile resource management tools allow needed adjustments to be made without delay.

The powerful process automation and process governance features in Mavenlink also enables teams to implement world-class processes and turn the most successful project plans into reusable templates for future work.

Moreover, Mavenlink’s integration capabilities allow your team to still use the tools and applications they have relied on for years, resulting in greater flexibility and more efficient workflow.

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