Best Practices

Project Integration Management: What Is It & Why Should You Care?

Jonathan Friedman
March 24, 2021
Project Integration Management: What Is It & Why Should You Care?

Are you finding that your projects lack a standardized process preventing you from coordinating across teams and impacting your results? If that's the case, you might be interested in knowing what project integration management (PIM) is, you don't know it yet.


In essence, project integration management is a dedicated process that attempts to coordinate all project elements together towards a common purpose.

In this article, we will cover everything you should know about it, as well as why you should care about it all. PIM can be quite daunting at first, but it's a critical factor in business success with modern technologies.

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is project integration management?

Project integration management is the continual process of coordinating all of a single project's elements. This can include but is not limited to managing resources, tasks, stakeholders, etc. 

Beyond managing the potential conflicts between the elements of a project, it involves choosing trade-offs between assessing resources and competing requests. An example of this would be if tasks are not going as planned, one will have to decide between finishing late or going over budget to speed the process up.

Evaluating a situation and making a critical decision is crucial for project integration management. PIM helps ensure that projects are not isolated. It covers how the project elements relate to each other and how other partitions of the organization/enterprise related to the project.

Project integration management is considered an essential factor for success for projects and project managers.

Why is it so important?

Their very nature complicates projects. They are like moving clocks with many different parts needing to be executed correctly. Project managers often have to oversee the cost, scope, quality, and schedule of any given project. 

Not to mention, they have to keep track of the risks, resources, changes, and stakeholder relationships. Tracking everything and knowing the impact of everything is quite daunting. If not done correctly, the project will fail. 

For instance, if one does not understand how scope change will affect the costs, schedule, and resource requirements, how would they manage the difference? It might make it so you don't have the people you need, deliver your project out of schedule or go over budget. In worst cases, all three are applicable.

To make everything a tad bit more complicated, decisions about one project can impact other aspects of your business and other projects. If you suddenly need a new dev to help with a project, it can be hard to see how this would impact your business without PIM.

Is the person supposed to work on another project simultaneously? Are they covering someone while they are on vacation? With PIM, it's hard to determine the project conflicts ahead of time and how to resolve them.

An example of project integration management

Imagine that you are on a project where you are implementing a software solution for a client. The software solution is a bundle of products from different functions and business units. That is, you have sales, account management, product management, and engineering teams across multiple business units, all interacting with numerous client teams.

Without project integration management, how would you ensure a unified customer experience?

However, you can ensure that your customers know that they are receiving their services from a quarterback, or a single engagement leader, a single company with project integration management. In the software delivery, you can integrate management with software that will allow you to perform effective project management and communicate with every stakeholder. 

It can also make use of a standardized process for everyone to follow.

Project integration management process

As you already know, a lot is going into PIM. To keep it as simple as possible, we will break down project integration management process into several stages.

This is not verbatim and not strict, as every project manager will involve their integration management process that they prefer.

Project integration management process

1. Create a project charter

In essence, a project charter is a basic overview of the entire project for the parties involved. Think of it as a synopsis for a movie. It's a short document that outlines the what, the when, the who, and the why. 

It can include (but doesn't have to) project scope, baseline, team, sponsors, and the business case. It can also cover the objectives, potential risks, assumptions, and stakeholder involvement. 

An essential part of the charter is the budget. The document's point is to communicate all of the valuable details as clearly as possible so that everyone invested knows what they're working towards.

If you're not sure why the project charter is the starting point for PIM, let's elaborate. 

First, the charter outlines which parts of the project require integration and if collaboration is needed.

Second, it develops an opportunity to discover any potential integration issues before the workflow has been executed.

2. Build a project plan

What is project integration management if not a very clear and descriptive organization? Well, that's where the project plan comes in. 

The management plan elaborates all of the charter information and breaks it down even further into detailed activities and actionable steps for individuals to follow.

This plan must be as concise and transparent as possible. It must elaborate on what has to happen and when it must happen. The integrations must be outlined clearly to showing how the project will progress.

Using management software is a wonderful way to take care of the project plan. Instructions and notes can be added to all of the tasks, making everyone involved clear on their deployed tasks and what's required of them. 

3. Manage the work

Further on, the workflow is enabled, and management must cover the daily execution of project activities. Unexpected circumstances can often destroy our dreams and goals, entirely corrupting our smooth adventure. 

Thus, part of PIM enables you to consider which integrations are necessary to oversee and overcome potential issues down the road.

Setting up team meetings to communicate and keep everyone on top of changes. But also making important files shareable are examples of these integrations.

This is an excellent time to involve a project evaluation that can help everybody stay on top of the integrations and the work that you must complete first to avoid unnecessary hurdles.

4. Coordinate knowledge

The next step is to involve the management of project information and output. This part of integration management is about making sure everybody knows what they must know and when they must know it. 

Think about where you will store vital output data such as examination results? How will you ensure people have the correct version of the service requirements? How will you keep everybody up to date about the progress, risks, and feedback? 

If you don't have a straightforward way to manage project output and documentation, you ask for trouble. Not only will people be clueless, but they will be working off outdated information. 

Think of a way to store and share your documents from the get-go.

5. Monitor and control the project

When your project is in full force, you need to find a way to ensure that your integrations are successful. That's what this stage is all about. 

When assessing your dashboards and reports to find issues, bottlenecks, or delays, you are pretty much doing just that. You're evaluating and coordinating the project.

In project integration management, this process does not merely examine the progress. It's about finding the problems of integration. Do your deliverables feel consistent? Are your teams communicate with each other?

Make use of a feedback tool to track and log teamwork and client feedback, which will help you find integration areas that need to be worked on.

6. Enforce integrated change control

Enforcing integrated change control is about reviewing, finding, and controlling changes throughout the project process. This ensures that change requests are assessed and approved if necessary changes.

The best way to keep up to date with changes is to implement a form for change requests. It will provide everybody involved with a structured format to share their thoughts. 

Instead of dealing with emails, calls, and in-person meetings, change requests can be made with a single click of a button. Thus, you can deal with the requests in a single place and assess them for necessary integration.

Integrated change is critical. Without a reliable process for integrated change, you might find that you're having trouble with scope creep (overburdening feature-sets). 

A lack of change management is one of the primary reasons why projects cannot deliver. To avoid having this problem, ensure you have a proper change management process.

7. Close the project

You are coming close to your project's final life stage with the goals and deliverables successfully achieved. Are your project management activities completed?

Well, not really. The process of PIM is not yet finished. At the end of your project, you will need to complete a review. This will give you a moment to reflect on your failures and successes and talk about how you could have done integrations better. 

The completion phase is also where you archive change documents and wrap up integration activities. But also cancel recurring tasks and compile the final version of the product/service.

The benefits of a project integration management process

Finally, let's show you the benefits of having project integration management. Imagine that your project is due in a week, and the person charged with quality assessment is on medical leave. What would a project manager have to do? 

Well, they should do several things. Some of which are:

  1. Assess the impact of the person's absence
  2. If you cannot delay the assessment, the manager will find someone to fulfill the task
  3. Inform clients of a potential delay and ensure that the team is doing everything to meet the deadline if possible

In this exemplary circumstance, the project management uses the integration of different aspects of the project. Thus, ensuring that the process of PIM is critical to the success of the entire management of the project.

Interdependency management

While cost management only deals with the financial elements, and human resource management deals with the team involved, they are not operated independently. A change in one department will have an impact on another. 

For instance, adding more employees will affect the budget and timeline. The project manager will communicate all of the changes to "potentially afflicted" parties. This scenario could be the department head, client, employees or staff, and the financial coordinator.

Improved efficiency

When each team uses its project management tools and techniques to complete tasks, consistency can be quite challenging to achieve. And without consistent, there isn't much productive output. 

Project integration management ensures coordination activity and directs all output towards the project's ultimate goal.

Order and organization

Project management often involves several processes and different elements of the project together. But project integration management attempts to consolidate them together and achieve the unison's overall objectives.

Think of PIM as the spirit that binds the activities together and makes sure they dance to the drum's same beat.

Conclusion

Now you know what project integration management is and why it matters. You are that much closer to involving it in your business workflow.

As long as you are willing to try new things and experiment with modern technologies, you will quickly see the benefit of project integration management.

If you're ready to get started with the best software that teams like yours use every day to get more done, then try our free 14-day trial so you can see for yourself.