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Process Improvement

Project Integration Management: Process, Steps, Importance

Written By: Joe Demski
March 23, 2022
9 min read

What is Project Integration Management?

Project integration management is a framework within the project management discipline that helps develop a project charter, create a project management plan, and establish the requirements necessary for closing a project.

The term project integration management comes from the Project Management Institute’s industry-standard book, the PMBOK Guide. It is one part of the ten areas in the book that are identified as key knowledge areas for any project manager.

Project integration management is one of the most important steps to find success with your project. This framework serves as the glue that binds many disparate functions, responsibilities, and key stakeholders together. Some of the most important documentation and strategies for project management will come from following this framework.

After finishing the process you will have architecture in place for future projects, and be able to use the performance of past projects to identify improvements and key areas for dedicating resources.

Why Project Integration Matters

The challenge for any project manager lies in wrapping their head around the many facets of a project. Every dollar must be accounted for, schedules have to be aligned, and resources must be properly distributed. Without the proper processes or technologies in place a project can quickly go off the rails and it can be difficult to understand the overall picture.

Of course, if it were easy to track everything then no project would ever be delivered late or over-budget. Every project manager would have a simple spreadsheet that tracked everything perfectly and answered all questions.

But that’s not real life and real projects are sprawling and messy, meaning it’s crucial to have a detailed plan to organize everything.

Project integration management helps across all phases of any given project. When a project manager follows the framework they will produce a project charter, a project plan, a change management process, and formalize how to end a project.

Steps in Project Integration Management

While project integration management is itself one of a number of areas prescribed to project managers, the framework itself consists of a handful of steps to follow and implement. Integrated project management requires taking a holistic view and considering how individual pieces will influence project objectives.

Below are the steps you will follow:

1. Develop Project Charter

A project manager's work begins well before the actual project kicks off. Many different project elements must be coordinated to ensure work can begin. The first step of project integration management is to develop a project charter and begin defining what the project goals are.

Project Charter Goals

Developing a project charter assigns crucial roles, sets expectations, determines risks, and organizes any necessary agreements. You will create your project team, define project work, and begin assigning project tasks.This is a critical planning phase for the entire project.

This serves as a guiding document that will inform all future project activities. Therefore, this step should set a wide scope to encompass as much detail as possible.

Include as many members of the project team as necessary so that you have all of the expectations, compliance needs, and expected deliverables included in the scope.

Depending on the complexity and size of the project scope, this step can require a serious time investment. When completing this project phase try to include as many inputs as possible—the project charter will set the tone for the rest of your integration management processes.

2. Develop Project Management Plan

The first step of project integration management sets the boundaries for the project—project managers gain a clear understanding of the scope and major players. In the second step you will begin developing a concrete project management plan which lays out how the work will flow.

Project Management Plan Goals

A project management plan will serve as a guiding document that will be referenced heavily. Think of it like the rosetta stone for everyone working on your project—they each have their own areas of expertise, communication methods, and expectations. But this will decipher the language of your project for them.

Your plan lets them quickly navigate the specific needs and processes for this project. This step produces a project scope statement and gets everyone on the same page. The inputs include the project charter and other documents that any stakeholder will need to reference.

Outputs will include baselines for the schedule, costs, communication plans, procurement plans, and a process improvement plan. After finalizing the plan be sure to circulate the document to a wider audience so it is easy to reference and any necessary updates can be quickly communicated.

3. Direct and Manage Project Work

With the third step of the project integration management framework, project managers start to earn their pay, because now work is underway and every decision is critical. Directing and managing work is the meat and potatoes of a project manager’s role, and this step will be critical for your project integration management processes.

Direct and Manage Project Work Goals

When a project is underway and there are dozens of workers potentially spread across multiple sites there needs to be a central hub that tracks project deliverables and statuses.

The center of any project integration management strategy lives within this step and the strategy will be put to the test here. Deliverables should be well-defined and set, the project’s budget authorized, and the project plan easily accessible for all stakeholders.

4. Monitor and Control Project Work

Experienced project managers know that their job isn’t just about looking forward. It’s always tempting to keep looking for what’s coming down the pipe, perform risk assessments for future steps, and try to keep the ship on the right path.

Monitor and Control Project Work Goals

But this step in your project integration management system gives you the opportunity to assess the project status and report on it to the appropriate contacts. Most likely you’ll be conducting regular stakeholder meetings and the project manager plays a key role in bringing forward important data to assess performance.

During this step corrective action can be taken if needed, and a clear picture should emerge as to whether budget and time estimates are still accurate. It’s important to utilize technology that enables you to quickly organize data from different systems and pull accurate reports, as time is of the essence in the middle of a project.

Reporting and analytics are a key aspect of a project manager's role. Different members of the project team require different data sets so centralizing the information in an easy-to-access location will make it easier for them to access.

5. Perform Integrated Change Control

What happens when something in the project changes? Say, a schedule needs to be adjusted or costs have to be rebalanced. Quickly changing one part of a project plan without thinking about how it could affect everything else in the entire project could lead to disaster. Change management is a crucial skill for any project manager.

Perform Integrated Change Control Goals

This step in project integration management will give you the tools to perform integrated change management control.

The only constant in life is change–and that’s doubly true for any project manager. But, following this step will improve your change management process and lead to a more flexible project plan.

After completing this step you will be able to handle all incoming change requests, distribute a formal change request to proper stakeholders, effectively approve or deny requests, and log any changes that occur. With these tools in your back pocket you’ve unlocked integrated change control.

Outputs from this step will include a change log to document any changes that occur throughout the project, and approved/denied change requests.

This is the final step that deals with the ongoing work of a project. After completing this step it’s time to consider how to wind down and what it means to finalize a project.

6. Close Project or Phase

When is a project completed? Is it when the last piece of material is placed? The last employee clocks out? The last bill is paid?

Close Project or Phase Goals

The project closure step in project integration management aims to help finalize and close the books on your job. A project manager should refer to the project plan and compare it to the actual outputs. Were expectations met? Was the forecasting correct?

Most importantly you should compare the deliverables to what was set out in the project charter and project plan to ensure all parties are satisfied with the results. This step goes a long way in building relationships and forging open lines of communication.

This step is useful for future projects as well, as you will gain critical insights into the success of your project and what areas could be improved upon. Project closure serves as an important tool to garner feedback.

Conclusion

Project management is a complex and complicated discipline. The objectives and goals are also constantly shifting. Even for the most experienced project managers it can be hard to install a set of processes to follow for consistent performance.

Project integration management is one of the ten areas outlined by the Project Management Institute in their PMBOK Guide. Each of the six steps in the project integration process has specific inputs and outputs that then inform the following steps. The phases can be a self-contained process or part of a more holistic approach to managing an entire project.

To aid in your tracking of all of the different steps, inputs, outputs, and data created throughout this process, consider leveraging a project management platform to centralize everything.

Successful project integration management will improve efficiency, build better lines of communication, create better forecasting, and lead to better operational outcomes.

FAQs

What is an example of project integration management?

Project integration management is a specific framework of six processes that help project managers tie together the many different aspects that make up the work of managing a project. For instance, creating processes for handling changes, and finalizing how to close a project.

What is the objective of project integration management?

The objective of project integration management is to give a project manager the tools and processes necessary to guide a business or team through every stage of a project.

What are the six steps of project integration management?

The six steps outlined by the Project Management Institute in their PMBOK Guide for project integration management are:

  1. Develop Project Charter

  2. Develop Project Management Plan

  3. Direct and Manage Project Work

  4. Monitor Control Project Work

  5. Perform Integrated Change Control

  6. Close Project or Phase

Written By: Joe Demski
Tags:
Process Improvement
project management
Construction

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