Understanding integration

What significance does integration have for program and new product project managers in tomorrow's business settings? Because the term integration is a key theme of this book, let's explore further what integration means. The concept of integration has many dimensions, individual, technological, organizational, interpersonal, and informational, but the core concept of integration is grounded in connection and alignment. But why will integration be more important in tomorrow's business organization; what makes integration key to organization and product performance?

Integration means completeness and closure, bringing components of the whole together in an operating system. Components of a larger system—increasingly global in nature—are brought together to create performance; but what is the process of integration and how does it work generically? The answer lies in systems theory; a system is a series of parts working together with a common objective. After the system is defined, the analysis function breaks down the whole into its components for purposes of understanding, building, and managing the system. Integration then puts the "built components" of a system back together to create a performance model that is aligned, e.g., all components work together as they were designed to do.

Projects must be internally and externally integrated. Internal integration means that project work packages, deliverables, and systems are connected; external integration means that the project interfaces with customer systems and produces value for the customer and the market/industry as a whole. Repeated internal and external project integration produces economic development in the larger community and societal framework.

The characteristics of integration that help to frame our understanding of program and project management and that underlie this book are as follows:

■ Systems don't integrate; people do. The individual and project team member, working with an external contingent of support people and stakeholders, is the beginning of integration. The way people who work in a project environment think about their roles, responsibilities, and tasks creates the conditions for integration. Integration thinking means that as people perform their functions, their behaviors reflect an awareness of impacts on other team members and on other product components—and, most importantly, on the customer's satisfaction with the outcome. Integration support systems connect key aspects of project performance so that data is produced automatically on cost, schedule, and quality to allow informed decisions.

■ Forward integration means that communication and connection are focused forward on producing deliverables and creating customer satisfaction, not necessarily to bring a project back to its original plan. Plans are estimates; real work performance serves as the basis for corrective action. Forward integration is a downstream concept in which work is performed to provide value downstream toward the deliverable; sequence means that integration occurs at the right moment in the process. This is a horizontal function, cutting across traditional functions to create synergy and cooperation.

■ Top management builds the culture and mechanisms for successful connection and integration, and involves extensive coordination by a centralized program and project management function that works to avoid disconnected efforts throughout the enterprise.

■ Integration means integrity. There is a connection between integrity, e.g., producing what you promise and doing it in a professional and ethical way, and integration, which is making sure required connections occur at the right times. The outcome, product, or service has integrity because it is integrated.

■ Accountability requires integration; new requirements, including the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, demand top management fiscal accountability, making financial and work performance integration imperative. The new requirement for internal accountability stresses internal control and checks and balances. Once seen as a low level accounting and audit requirement, this new mandate now requires integration at every level of the organization, including programs and projects.

■ Integration begins at the business level. New forces require a new way of thinking about business itself, business strategy and operations, projects, and markets. These forces come about from developing changes in the landscape of business management, most notably at the global level. Integration now occurs across geographical, economic, political, and system boundaries as never before.

■ The "regime" of business—the whole business enterprise system—is changing, too, as more and more middle- and small-sized businesses surface and disappear with the tides of business fortune. How does a business organization, designed as it is to grow and profit through serving customers, ensure that it "plays" in the regime of business fairly and with integrity. Such a business plays by the rules not just to avoid regulatory and government interference, but because the business equates truth with integrity and success.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

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.

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