Project integration in practice in a real work setting often means juggling several factors and forces during the project planning and control process. Contrary to academic and professional association rubric that segments project management as if it were pieces of a pie, "real" project planning and management does not occur in distinct phases nor in convenient buckets called planning, risk management, scheduling, scope, cost estimation, and the like. In fact, these functions and activities occur all at once as a project takes shape and is implemented.
Integration then becomes first a mindset, an approach that requires a project manager to monitor several factors at once. This discussion places this "multitasking" environment of integration into perspective. Let us try to integrate risk, schedule, cost, and quality in a typical project setting.
First, planning is risk management. Every project plan approaches work structure and tasks in terms of overcoming uncertainty and barriers to project completion. So risk is inherent in a project simply because projects are usually new and different from past work and because there is a level of uncertainty and risk involved in every aspect of the project. The impact of failure because a risk is not "managed" well is felt in project outcomes such as cost, schedule, and quality. Bad risk management is bad cost and schedule control.
Integration involves making sure that all aspects of a project are attended to during the whole project life cycle.
■ Work and task planning is structured so that earned value (schedule and cost variance) can be assessed at milestones, built into the task definition and schedule. In other words, the way you build cost and schedule control into planning is to define the work in segments which correspond with %complete determinations.
■ Work and task planning is reviewed in terms of potential failures, such as risks, and high-risk tasks are presented in a risk matrix that includes a contingency plan build right into the project schedule.
■ Quality is integrated into project planning by not only shaping scope and work around customer requirements but also by structuring work around quality. This means that earned value determinations, e.g., %complete reports, assume that when a team member reports a piece of work completed that this means completed according to user or customer requirements.
■ Projects are seen as decision systems, not just task planning and control. This means that the project manager anticipates decisions that have to be made and the expected value of these decisions downstream. This assures that the schedule is flexible and includes alternative decision paths and scenarios when appropriate. Project plans become more than a single, linear look at the process; they start to reflect alternative directions as key decisions are made.
Project integration is first a personal and professional issue, not a process or technical issue. Project managers must be able to see the "big picture" as they proceed through the project process; they lead and direct the team to keep their eyes on all the major factors that need to be integrated to ensure success. They know the key players who can reflect different perspectives on the project, accountants, technical specialists and engineers, human resource people, contract and purchasing people, and top management. They are "plugged into" customers and users during the process to assure integration of customer learning and change into the project.
The indicator of good project integration is that there are no surprises in the project that have not been addressed in planning and project design. Thus, if project integration is unsuccessful, we see that unanticipated costs appear, schedule delays occur that were not planned, quality problems are seen too late to resolve without costly change, and "outside forces" intervene in project decisions.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.