Integrating the various elements of a project into a whole system is the crux of a successful project. In the information technology environment, nearly every project is composed of software, hardware, communications, and other components. How these components are integrated into the final product determines whether the project will meet the customer or user's needs, and systems integration depends on a good systems engineering process, the hub of project management. Exhibit 8-1 demonstrates what I mean by this concept. From the graphic, it becomes clearer how the two disciplines, project management and systems engineering management, mesh.
Exhibit 8-1: Systems engineering management is the hub of project management.
Amazingly, there are a lot of books on project management but few on systems engineering, although systems engineering is done, at some level, on any project having several components, such as IT projects. Fewer still are the books addressing how systems engineering fits into the project management process. Yet it is this discipline that ensures that project components mesh into the final project deliverable. An understanding of systems engineering is crucial to the project manager. Understanding how its tools and techniques apply in the project planning, development, and execution are essential if the project is to be successfully concluded.
Although the systems engineering activities were discussed at a high level in Chapter 3, this chapter addresses the project as a system and describes in more detail how the system is decomposed into its various elements. This chapter also shows how each of these lower elements are planned and developed, how they are individually tracked and controlled, and how they are finally brought together to form the total project deliverable.