Project management is a complicated and challenging discipline. It requires a lot of skills and knowledge to be done right and even more determination to be done perfectly. Most of us are familiar with the terms workload management or coming up with a timeline, but when it comes to becoming an expert in the field, mastering integrated project management is crucial.
The term integrated project management describes a collection of processes that ensure various elements of the project are properly coordinated. In reality, this term is used to describe a project management approach that takes into account all the project elements – resources, vendors, stakeholders, other company projects, etc. Anything and everything that affects the project’s success has to be taken into consideration when making decisions and reaching for success.
As such, integrated project management is usually not just about a single project. It requires a holistic approach to managing projects and a good understanding of the company practices overall. Thus, fostering coordination between departments and teams, information sharing throughout the company, effective dependencies management, and compromises between different objectives.
Any and all decisions made with an integrated project management mindset consider two things – how will this impact my project and how will this impact other related parties. For example, you want to expand your project’s scope. This will inevitably affect your schedule, cost, and need for resources. At the same time, this decision will impact other projects that share resources with you and their ability to deliver on time. By practicing integrated project management, you have to consider all of these factors before making the final decision on increasing the project scope. Thus, focusing not only on your own goals or a single project aspect, but coordinating with other teams and reaching the best decision for everyone.
A very important aspect of integrated project management is information sharing. It is only by being transparent on each teams and departments needs and actions that the company can reach true collaboration and find the best way to manage projects.
So now that we know what integrated project management is, let’s talk about how to do it.
According to the definition, there are 7 integrated project management processes that have to be followed for each project:
A project charter is the initial project plan that outlines the goals, risks, benefits, and resources of the project. This document is prepared before the project starts to decide if it is worth taking on, authorizing the project manager to use company resources and to define stakeholders invested in the project. The project charter is the first project draft that allows the company to understand what the project is and how it will tie into other operations.
Once the project is approved, the next step in integrated project management is writing the project plan. Outline what will be needed to reach the set goals, specify the schedule, cost, scope, and other project aspects. What makes this plan a little different from what we usually see is the ask to outline any dependencies the project has. Make sure to include any dependencies certain tasks may have, need to get information from outside sources, resources that are working on several projects, etc. This will allow you to get the full view of how the project integrated with other company activities and manage from there.
Creating the project management plan can be made easier by using project management tools. For example, Teamhood has a Portfolio feature that allows you to plan out several projects run in the same company, map out their phases, task dependencies and define shared resources. Having all of this information in one place lets you quickly see how all projects are related and what issues can they run into.
Once the preparation is done, as a project manager you have to lead and manage your team to perform the work. Use them to execute the project management plan while keeping project integration management in mind while making decisions. Depending on the framework you follow, this can be done, using to-do lists, Gantt charts, or Kanban boards.
While managing the project, it is also important to manage the knowledge. As mentioned before integrated project management promotes information sharing between teams and projects. This allows you to better understand what is happening in the company overall and learn from previous projects on what is the best way to execute work. When managing a project, you should also be open to sharing your experiences with other teams and documenting the best solutions for future reference.
One of the most important project manager’s tasks is to track, review and regulate the project progress. Use the project management plan to check how well the team is doing and assist them in reaching the goals when they run into trouble. Use the knowledge on your project dependencies, such as sharing resources or having to wait on vendors to foresee the possible issues and avoid them altogether. A well prepared project management plan will be of great help to ensure your team succeeds.
Using additional reports like Teamhood’s actionable metrics can help you identify when the team has run into trouble. You can quickly see which tasks are stuck in progress and aid your team in coming up with solutions.
Just like with the previous step, this is about using the knowledge you outlined in the project management plan. In all projects, there will be changes, but when using project integration management, these changes have to be considered from all perspectives. So, instead of just making changes that benefit your project, consider what effect this will have on other related parties. Only this way, will you be able to make the right decisions and respect competing objectives between yours and other projects.
Integrated change control requires a lot of information and knowledge, thus using a project management solution really gives you an advantage. You can check which projects are dependant on your tasks, what resources are available, and what deadlines are coming up. Having all of the information in one place promotes project integration management and decision making.
All projects, integrated or not, have to come to an end. So when the time comes, the last integrated project management process is closing the project and performing analysis and a retrospective. Evaluate actual resources and time spent vs estimations. This will help you get a better understanding of the process and improve the planning of future projects. For example, the Teamhood time sheet report delivers precise data on each task comparing time spent vs estimation. This can be summarised on phase, person, or team level.
Integrated project management is not an easy undertaking and requires a combination of skills. To make sure you set yourself up for success, consider implementing these practices in your organization.
1 – Create open communication channels for your team members and stakeholders. Make sure all the parties can communicate on the project needs and express their concerns. Save time and avoid conflict by creating open communication channels where everyone can collaborate on the project.
2 – Allow easy information sharing. Use something like Teamhood Kanban boards to store all project information and share this view with the project stakeholders so they know what is being done at all times.
3 – Identify points of connectivity. Use a project management system that allows you to manage a portfolio, set task dependencies between different projects, and manage resources effectively. By having an integrated project system you will be able to immediately see how your decisions affect other projects and make more informed choices.
4 – Make decisions based on all factors. When making any decisions, consider how this will affect your project and the connected parties. With integrated project management mindset, you might have to forgo certain improvements to your project in lieu of the overall business objectives. However, do not take this as a defeat as it allows you to reach better overall results.
5 – Foster collaboration. Lastly, when it comes to integrated project management collaboration is the name of the game. Use it to get knowledge, help out teams that are stuck and make integrated changes that benefit everyone.
Integrated project management is a big undertaking that requires skill and effort. It unites various project management practices into one discipline with a single goal – delivering a successful project. However, while the main focus is still delivering that one project it is done with regards to everything else that is happening around it. Outside sources like vendors, stakeholders, and other company projects are all taken into account to ensure each decision made is beneficial to the company overall.
If this undertaking seems too big at first sight, know that you do not have to do it all at once. Implement the project integration management approach little by little and you will be working in a fully integrated way in no time.
Looking for a tool to ease collaboration, information sharing, workload management and setting dependencies? Check out Teamhood for a full integrated project management package.