Use Effective Project Integration Management to Drive Project Success
Project Management involves discipline in making sure that "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed'. A product focus - or focus on the WHAT - helps drive priorities, and Project Integration Management helps drive the HOW. This article explores the keys to driving the required results, and also how to effectively manage the project management process using the Project Integration Management framework.
Project Management involves a great deal of discipline in making sure that "all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed'. Project Integration Management is a knowledge area of the PMBOK that the project manager can leverage to drive the required results and effectively manage the process. This article explores the keys to driving the required results, and also how to effectively manage the project management process using the Project Integration Management framework.
Driving Results - the "What", or Producing the Product of the Project
Driving strong and intentional results on a project means successfully producing the "product of the project". This can be accomplished in part by clarifying the distinction between the 'project plan' and the 'product plan'. When focusing on "results" for a project, the distinction is between the Product Plan and the Project Plan comes into clear view. Let's explore.
The key is to be clear on the desired results. Determining the preliminary scope as part of Project Integration Management is the start to becoming clear. Progressive elaboration provides the opportunity to allow that clear picture to unfold. The "product plan" provides the detailed picture and specifications of the product of the project.
Configuration Management helps us to manage the product plan as progressive elaboration occurs. The Configuration Management Plan, part of the integrated Project Plan, provides for version control of the specifications for the product of the project. The Configuration Management System, however simple or complex, is where the different versions of the product plans and specifications are managed. It includes a Integrated Change Control, where the process of requesting and accepting scope changes is managed for the project. This facilitates the progressive elaboration process by maintaining snapshots of the picture, or level of elaboration, at any given time for the product of the project.
The idea of driving results on our projects demands focus from an "end result perspective" on the product of the project. The project needs to always be driving toward producing the "what", as specified and configuration managed. Part of the project manager's job is to continue to distinguish, for the team and stakeholders, the difference between the Project Plan and the Product Plan. The Product Plan is all about the what. The project plan is all about the how.
Managing the Process - the "How", or the Project Plan
The Project Plan is all about managing the HOW - how the product of the project is to be achieved. It clearly involves a great deal of attention to detail, and a high degree of thoroughness. The key to managing the process - the HOW - is to prioritize and focus on the most important activities. The Pareto principle and project management join seamlessly here.
For the how, the PMBOK specifies in the Project Integration Management knowledge area the following processes that can be accessed and need to be tied together:
-Project Charter development
-Preliminary Project Scope creation
-Project Management Plan development
-Monitor and control process
-Integrated Change Control process
While Project Integration Management seems on the surface to be nearly all-inclusive of the HOW, it, like the PMBOK, is a framework and not a prescription. It is up to the project manager to prioritize and determine what to do and emphasize in the framework, including the relationships among the processes. This is where the "art" of project management meets the science. The PMBOK Guide, Third Edition, near the beginning of Chapter 4 on Project Integration Management, states:
"Most experienced project management practitioners know there is no single way to manage a project. They apply project management knowledge, skills, and processes in different orders and degrees of rigor to achieve the desired project performance. However, the perception that a particular process is not required does not mean that it should not be addressed. The project manager and project team must address every process, and the level of implementation for each process must be determined for each specific project."
The most effective managers keep an intense eye on priorities, and it is no different in project management. I believe that the product focus - keeping an eye on the product of the project as the ultimate project metric - can help us tremendously with the judgments we make in Project Integration Management. Experience helps, but the product focus provides the following a 'litmus test':
"Does the decision directly effect our movement toward producing the product of the project?"
We can use this in each decision on the project, which can help us leverage the Pareto principle, or 80:20 rule, to prioritize.
If something has a very clear and direct impact on the product of the project, it is probably in that 20% of activities that effects 80% of the results. If it does not, it is probably in the 80% of activities that produces 20% of the results. This keen sense of priorities thus becomes a top managerial strength. If we can be clear on the priorities and have the courage to act on that knowledge, it is much simpler to leverage the Pareto principle to advantage as a project manager, prioritized effectively on our projects, and successfully deliver the product of our projects.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Reiling, PMP, manages projects, writes, and provides online training in Project Integration Management at on Project Management Training Online. See "Project Integration Management and the Pareto Principle" also by John at PMcrunch.com.