An In-depth Look into the Integration Management Knowledge Area
In an earlier article about the nine project management knowledge areas, I briefly went over the concept of Integration Management. In this article I will dig deeper into this fascinating area and make sure you get a better idea what this area contains.
First, let’s understand what Integration Management (IM) is all about. A project contains many knowledge areas and IM serves to keep all areas integrated and coordinated.
IM takes a high-level view of the entire project from start to finish. You can say that all knowledge areas are connected to each other through IM. Whenever issues come up that affect several areas the IM area allows the project manager to make decisions without involving the entire project team each time.
IM is the only area that has activities in all process groups.
Initiating Process Group
The Initiating process group has two IM processes: To develop the Project Charter and the Preliminary Scope Statement. These processes are extremely important to any project and sometimes they can be combined into the Project Charter deliverable.
The project charter is the document that officially starts the project. It is one of the most important documents for the project because the lack of the charter means you have no official project. The project manager uses the statement of works received from the customer and the contract with the customer to create the charter.
The project charter contains:
- The name of the project manager and an authorization to direct the project
- High-level project requirements
- High-level milestone level schedule
- A preliminary project budget
- Preliminary scope statement (see below)
Preliminary Project Scope Statement
Most of the times the project scope is not very detailed at this level of the project, and even if it is, the scope will likely change a lot during the life cycle of the project.
This document will explain the project’s basic scope, assumptions and constraints, how the project’s deliverables will be accepted by the customer, milestones and sometimes also a high-level work breakdown structure. The preliminary scope document can also include a high-level cost estimate.
In smaller projects it often happens that the project manager includes the preliminary scope statement as part of the project charter.
Planning Process Group
There is one IM process in the planning stage of the project and it is to develop the project management plan. Many think that the “project management plan” is the same as a Gantt chart or the project schedule but that is a mistake. The project management plan guides the management, execution and control of the project and is much more than just a schedule.
Project Management Plan has components from all the plans from all the knowledge areas in the entire project. It also includes the project schedule, cost and schedule baselines, risk register and resource calendar.
Every time a process affects any planning document in any knowledge area the project management plan (PM Plan) is also affected. In the beginning of the project the PM Plan will miss some of the other areas, but as the project progresses, the PM Plan finally includes all areas and gets updated on a regular basis.
Executing Process Group
IM has one process in the execution group: Direct and Manage Project Execution. This is the process where the project team is executing the work packages and creating the project deliverables.
Many think of a project being run linearly where you plan, execute, control and close the project but in reality you go back and forth between the process groups. So after planning, executing and controlling the project you may have to go back and do some more planning, executing, etc. The cycle is usually repeated several times during the projects life cycle.
Monitoring and Controlling Process Group
There are two processes in this group related to IM. The first one is to Monitor and Control the Project Work. Here the project manager takes a look at all the work that’s being performed and makes sure that the deliverables are created according to the project plan.
The second process is called Integrated Change Control. Here all changes to the project are processed. If a change occurs in any area, it is evaluated for its impact across the entire project.
Closing Project Process Group
IM has one process in this group and it is simply called Close Project. In this process we close down the project properly. This process is executed after the project deliverable has been delivered and involves archiving and capturing lessons learned. It also involves making sure that all contracts are properly closed.
It is important to document the lessons learned as part of this process so that we can use these lessons in future projects and maybe avoid similar issues and challenges that we may have encountered in the present project.
Integration Management is what ties all the knowledge areas together and is an important area to master as a project manager. I recommend that all project managers read up and understand this area in detail before starting any project in the future.