Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Controlling the integrated project, part of Project Management Foundations: Integration.
- If you have ever eaten an ice-cream on a hot day, you would know that it can be pretty hard work to stop it from dripping down your hand. You need to eat from one side after the other, keeping an eye on the entire ice-cream to determine where your efforts are needed to avoid a sticky mess. Controlling an integrated project can be a little bit like this. The key to this lies in understanding how each element of your project is interrelated and how your project touches on other projects within the business. A change to any aspect of your project can have an impact on other areas of your project and it can also have a cascading effect on the rest of the business.
Let's imagine for a moment that you're managing a project that involves the replacement of a finance system. Work needs to be done in the very early stages to determine how the finance system touches other areas of the business. You can then plan the integration effort accordingly. For example, where the finance system touches on the payroll management system, work is needed to ensure integration is smooth and people are paid on time. Integration Control involves a number of things.
First, multiple layers of team leadership. In the finance system example, there should be a team leader responsible for the finance system project and another team leader responsible for the payroll system project. One of these leaders should have specific responsibility for the integration of both projects. Alternatively, a third person can be appointed to take responsibility for leading the integration effort. Particularly if there are political issues inolved and the integration is complex.
Second, you should use multiple communication methods to control integration. Due to the cross-team communication required for integrated projects, different communication methods may be needed. Face-to-face meetings may work in some areas. Where team members of remote, they may require great amounts of documentation and shared project files. And finally, many stakeholder relationships and interactions need to be carefully managed. Many interactions will be needed in my example of the finance and payroll teams.
Each project will have its own stakeholders and there may be stakeholders who are common to both. Consistent communication is vital to control the integration. Each of your integration project teams should create their own plan. However, it is essential to determine the integration points and who will be responsible for them, resulting in an integrated plan for you to control the project as a whole. So, you will want to bring your teams together so they can compare and integrate their plans appropriately.
Usually, it's not necessary to create a third plan which covers the integration aspects of the project. However, in a more complicated environment, you may want to create a separate plan. Take building an airplane for example. One project may be needed to build the wings, while another is needed to build the fuselage. In this case, you may want to have a written plan for how these two components will attach to one another because of the complicated systems involved. However, in most cases, planning and controlling the integration effort is simply about ensuring the leaders involved understand how the two projects will impact on each other as well as the business.
The leaders should meet to discuss the integration effort and how each leader will work with each team so that the teams can agree on how schedules and plans will be synced up. Once the approach is determined, each team can perform the work that has been agreed upon, avoiding a sticky project meltdown.
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- Planning for integration
- Managing scope, cost, and risk
- Integration and communication techniques
- Staffing the integration
- Mapping project interrelationships
- Dealing with multiple critical paths