This section covers the following aspects:
Understanding how the project will interact with the organization
The first step in project integration management is to understand how the project's deliverables will interact with the current or future operations of the organization. If your project is, to take an imaginary and extreme example, to replace bus drivers with robots, this would mean understanding the existing workforce, their trade unions, how the robots would interact with the passengers, and with the police and insurers in the event of accidents. If the structure of the organization will alter during the life of the project, the interactions initially established between the project and stakeholders will need to change and adapt according to the reorganization, and there needs to be a plan, and before that a vision in the mind of the project manager, for realizing and managing that change. So, as a project manager, consider all likely organizational changes, so that their impact is reflected in your project management work, especially in planning.
One of the greatest impacts on projects from organizational changes is changes in stakeholders. New organizational structures mean new stakeholders. New stakeholders should be involved in project planning activity as soon as they are identified, in order to minimize the risk that they might refuse to accept the project's deliverables.
Integrating external inputs to the project
We have seen that integration means pulling together and prioritizing and coordinating all project management activities. The project manager, helped where necessary by the project sponsor, will have authority over resources allocated to the project and over processes that fall within the jurisdiction of the project. However, such is the nature of project management that many of the resources and processes critical to the success of the project are not under the command of the project manager or even of the sponsor. At best, the sponsor and project manager have some degree of influence over many of the critical resources and processes. Therefore a key factor during the initiation and planning processes of the project is to integrate resources and processes that are necessary for the project from those beyond the ones controlled by the project. In plain English, you will have to plan to beg, borrow or steal. Figure 4.1 illustrates the point that the project needs resources beyond what it actually controls. This is the hard part of integration, and one of the hardest parts of project management altogether.
Figure 4.1. Projects must obtain the use of assets and processes beyond their control
(a) The problem: a large gap between what the project needs, and what it has. Projects do not control sufficient resources and processes for their success
(b) The solution: understand where you can influence; and where you can't influence things, at least build a system to ensure you know what is happening
Influencing and coordinating resources outside the project's command
Influencing resources outside the project's control is related to the previous subsection, on integrating external inputs to the project. The problem of influencing and coordinating resources over which the project team have no direct authority needs to be managed at all stages of the project.
Projects never have enough resources or access to processes. This is natural given the nature of projects as temporary endeavours concerned with innovation or change. Projects have direct control of only a fraction of what they need in order to succeed. Figure 4.1(a) depicts this problem. Figure 4.1(b) shows the solution, which is to develop a zone of influence and beyond that a zone of interest. The zone of influence encompasses assets and processes necessary to the project but which are not controlled by the project, those that you will have to 'beg, borrow or steal'. The interpersonal skills of the sponsor and project manager, and the project team, and the power and influence of the project sponsor are critical to ensuring that the zone of influence is sufficiently large for the project. There will still remain risk areas, assets and processes which are not within the zone of influence right now, but which need to be brought within it in due course, or even controlled, for the project to be a success. The project must develop an intelligence or information gathering system so that it knows what is happening to these assets and to give the project the best chance of bringing them within the zone of influence or control at a later date.
Selecting the right project management tools given the project's complexity
A problem in project management is that project management methodology can become the focus of effort instead of the focus being on delivering the project. Put another way, what ultimately matters is results, not whether project management methodology was or was not used. Project management methodology must be a means to an end, but a big risk is that it becomes an end in itself. Big, complex projects need more project management tools and techniques than small, simple projects. A key skill for project managers is to know which tools to use when, and how to use them.
We have seen that the size and complexity of a project should determine how much project management process should be used. There is always a temptation for the inexperienced project manager or the project manager in a failing project to apply more and more effort to the bureaucracy of project management, for example to producing project documentation, holding project workshops and writing project reports. Project integration management is an antidote to this often lethal bureaucracy, but for it to work the person using the tools and techniques of project integration management has to be aware of the risk of applying project management tools and techniques inappropriately and to have some experience of real-life project management. Project integration management will help you to determine what tools to use and when. 'Yes, we need to appoint some project staff, but first let's decide what exactly it is that we are doing in this project' project integration management helps you to make this kind of argument.
Project integration management ensures all the right areas of the project and of project management methodology are covered, or have been considered and deferred or rejected, as part of the project management process. The importance of integration can be shown by the initial project management plan produced during the planning process of the project. Once the project has moved in to the execution process, a certain aspect may have changed or altered which was not part of the original plan. The project team would evaluate the impact; this in turn could generate an adjustment to the initial project management plan. The whole process is an iterative approach that requires the need for integration and implementation by the project manager.
An aim of project integration management is to use the smallest number of project management tools and techniques that is needed to deliver the project's objectives.
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