Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Warning signals and fixing integration issues, part of Project Management Foundations: Integration.
- As we learn to drive a car, we learn to look out for particular warning signals. When we see flashing lights or hear a honking horn, we know that there is potential for danger. When we're working on an integrated project, we also have to be on the lookout for signs of danger. There are many integration issues that can trouble your project, and I'll share the most common ones with you. However, don't fret. I'll also give you some tips on how to address them. The most common Integration Issues and Warning Signals are a shortage of links between interrelated areas, such as Assumptions and Risks.
All Assumptions should be resolved or tied to a Risk. It is common to see an assumption give rise to several risks. If there's no connection between your assumptions and risks, I suggest you address this immediately. The next issue arises when new items are added to the project Scope but revisions are not made to the budget, schedule, and risk management plan. If stakeholders are requesting changes without a proper assessment of the other areas of the project that will be impacted, it is a warning signal.
Third is when team members tell you they're not being kept up-to-date about changes. If communication is breaking down, it's a warning signal of significant project issues. Fourth warning signal, there's no owner of two or more interrelated project tasks or products. If nobody knows who's looking after the integration effort, trouble is probably on the way. Fifth, your project team becomes tired of the effort of integration.
Each time you review the status of your project, you're likely to find new risks or performance issues to be addressed. This requires a revision to the project management plan. As each area of project management is interrelated, this can create a significant amount of rework on your budget, schedule, risk register, issues log, et cetera. It can become tiresome, and project team motivation can begin to wane. So, it is important to watch your staff for signs of change fatigue at these points.
Insert breaks in your project's schedule. Put aside tasks and concentrate on simply keeping things up-to-date. The sixth item I want to share is this scenario. Let's say something changes on Project A, and as a result, Projects B, C, and D stop, because you and your fellow project managers don't know what the impact of the Project A change will be. For example, a key staff member leaves. Do you and your fellow project managers have the ability to understand the project impacts of this and react quickly? If not, it's a warning signal that you've not performed appropriate integration of your projects.
The last signal is when you see team members simply waiting. I'm waiting for Karen to give me something, but Karen doesn't know I'm waiting for her, or she thinks she already gave it to me. This is a significant warning signal of things going astray. Okay, that was the tough part. Here are some simple tips for fixing integration issues. One, make sure processes are well documented and universally understood.
If you're seeing one of the issues or warning signals above, it's time to revisit the processes. Has there been an assumption made that's lead to an issue? Has a change occurred that has resulted in a change elsewhere? Review the processes and document any changes, then communicate the impact of these changes. Two, write and clearly communicate your expectations. If stakeholders are requesting change, ensure they know it is their job to document the change and the impact it will have.
Lastly, have consistent meetings and produce status and progress reports. People are less likely to become tired of change if they're kept up-to-date and given the opportunity to be part of it. Having an awareness of integration flashing lights and honking horns and taking these preventative actions will enable you to drive your project more effectively, avoiding costly accidents.
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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