What Is Project Integration Management?
Project integration management is the coordination of all elements of a project. This includes coordinating tasks, resources, stakeholders, and any other project elements, in addition to managing conflicts between different aspects of a project, making trade-offs between competing requests, and evaluating resources. One example would be if a project is not on track, you may need to choose between going over budget or finishing the project late. Assessing the situation and making an informed decision is a key part of project integration management. Integrated project management ensures projects are not managed in isolation. It takes into account not only how aspects of your project relate to each other but also how other parts of the organization relate to your project. Project integration management is one of the ten key knowledge areas in the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge). It’s considered a critical success factor for project managers and their projects.
Why is project integration management so important?
Projects are complex, with a lot of different parts that need to be managed. For example, a project manager needs to oversee all of the following:
Keeping track of everything and knowing how one factor impacts the others can be very challenging. However, if it is not done properly, it can lead to project failure. For example, if you don’t understand how a scope change will impact your schedule, costs, and resource requirements, how do you manage the change? It increases the chances of not having the people you need, going over budget, delivering your project late, or all three. Decisions about your project can also impact other projects and other areas of the business. For example, what if you suddenly need a software developer to work on your project for another month? Without integration management throughout the organization, it can be hard to see how this impacts the business. Is that resource supposed to be on another project at the same time? Are they supposed to be covering someone’s vacation during that period? Without integration management, it’s difficult to identify conflicts in advance and know how to resolve them.
Seven processes of project integration management
Seven processes should be followed for successful project integration management. These are:
- Develop the project charter
- Develop the project management plan
- Direct and manage project work
- Manage project knowledge
- Monitor and control project work
- Perform integrated change control
- Close the project (or project phase)
These integration management processes occur throughout the entire project lifecycle. This is because managing project integration is an ongoing task that needs to happen continuously.
The ‘manage project knowledge’ step is a new addition to the PMBOK as of the sixth edition, released in September 2017. It was added to address the importance of using information and knowledge to make well-informed decisions. Doing a thorough analysis to understand the impacts of decisions across the whole project is key to project success.
How to succeed at project integration management
Because integration management requires the ability to evaluate resources, make trade-offs and dealing with competing activities, project managers need to have a combination of soft skills and hard skills. These include the following:
- Relationship management
- Critical thinking ability
- Data analysis
- Impact assessments
- Change management
- Risk management
It’s important to build open communication channels with the project team and stakeholders to ensure information is shared, and proper impact assessments are done to identify points of integration or dependencies. Using integration management software or tools can also increase your project’s chances of success. This is because you can use systems to help you identify integration points and conflicts.
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