Guide to project integration management (7 step process)

July 19th, 20218 min read
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No two projects are the same in terms of deliverables, budget, and timeline. To ensure all projects meet requirements and objectives, many companies use project integration management as a standard practice. 

Project integration management involves coordinating all project elements, from delegating tasks and managing resources to communicating with stakeholders. By taking a holistic approach to managing projects and their interdependencies, it allows you to execute projects while keeping the big picture in mind.

To succeed in integrated project management, read on to learn about this practice in detail, including the key steps and skills required. 

What is project integration management?

Project integration management involves coordinating all elements of a project, including tasks, resources, stakeholders, and deliverables. The purpose of project integration management is to ensure that processes run efficiently and meet predefined goals.

What is project integration management

You need project integration management when there are interactions between different processes and teams. When projects have competing objectives or scheduling conflicts, project integration management helps you make cost or schedule trade-offs that enable your team to complete the project and meet stakeholder expectations.

Here’s a project integration management example: Let’s say the marketing team requires data from the sales team in order to produce a report for stakeholders. Project integration management is used to ensure that the data from the sales team is properly handed off to the marketing team and that the deliverable meets requirements.  

Project integration management also involves overseeing the five project management phases that occur during the project lifecycle.

These five phases include:

  1. Project initiation: The aim of this phase is to establish the vision and goals for the project and secure stakeholder approval through project objectives. This phase consists of creating the project charter to provide an overview of the project, a clear road map, and the stakeholder register to specify the stakeholders involved. 

  2. Project planning: The planning process is where you set up the project infrastructure to help you achieve the project goals within time, budget, and resource constraints. You’ll create more detailed project documents to help your team understand the project vision and what’s required to see it through. 

  3. Project execution: This is when you’ll put your project plan into action and get the project underway. Most of the budget will be spent during this phase to produce the deliverables. It also includes activities such as stakeholder communications and engagement, quality assurance, and team development. 

  4. Project performance: This phase involves supervising the progress of the project and comparing it against the original plan. It means taking corrective action when there are blockers or delays. 

  5. Project closure: This is where you formally close out the project by getting approval from the client or stakeholder. Records and lessons learned from the project should be archived for future reference. 

As one of the key knowledge areas in the PMI’s PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Book of Knowledge), mastering this practice allows project managers to improve their processes. 

The 7 steps of project integration management

Project integration management offers a holistic approach to project planning and execution. The practice consists of seven processes to effectively coordinate project activities. Let’s break them down. 

The 7 steps of project integration management

1. Create project charter

Projects typically start out with the creation of a project charter, a short document that provides an overview of the project and identifies the project manager and key stakeholders.

A project charter includes the following:

  • Scope

  • Objectives and deliverables

  • Project team members 

  • Project risks 

  • Benefits or returns on investment

  • Budget 

  • Business case

A project charter essentially acts as a foundation on which you can further plan your project. It also helps you gain buy-in from stakeholders, which enables you to move forward quickly and autonomously within the project scope

Read: 7 common causes of scope creep, and how to avoid them

2. Develop project management plan

The next step involves developing a more detailed project plan, which specifies the project scope statement, deliverables, timeline, milestones, and metrics to evaluate success. 

The project plan is used to direct the execution of the project to meet overall requirements and objectives. 

Here are the steps to creating a project management methodology:

  1. Meet with stakeholders to set project requirements, deliverables, and objectives.

  2. Define the project scope.

  3. Create a work breakdown structure (WBS) to delegate tasks and assign resources.

  4. Create a project schedule.

  5. Conduct a risk assessment and develop contingency plans.

  6. Come up with a performance measurement baseline to assess project performance.

  7. Develop additional plans for any of the following: scope management, cost management, resource management, change management, stakeholder management, or risk management.

To help you with this process, you can use a project planning template as a starting point to build your plan. 

Free project plan template

3. Direct and manage project work

The next phase is project execution, in which the project manager takes charge of the day-to-day work that must be done, such as:

  • Directing the project team

  • Holding stakeholder meetings

  • Tracking project progress

This phase ensures that tasks are being carried out effectively according to the project plan and scope statement. 

4. Manage project knowledge

Project knowledge refers to the process of using existing information or obtaining additional knowledge to reach project goals. This step ensures team members have all the information they need to produce the required deliverables.

Any knowledge or expertise gained during this step contributes to the company’s overall body of knowledge, which is useful for future strategic endeavors.  

5. Monitor and control project work

Since processes in project integration management are interconnected, they should be followed closely to ensure that everything adheres to the project management plan. 

The purpose of this step is to keep the project on track. If there are any deviations from the project plan, they need to be identified and corrected. 

There are three approaches to this:

  1. Preventive action: an action performed to reduce the negative impact of project risks

  2. Corrective action: an action performed to bring the future project performance back in line with the project plan

  3. Defect repair: an action to repair or replace a documented project defect

A common technique to measure performance is to do an earned-value analysis to assess the current status of the project’s budget and schedule. If project changes need to be made and are approved, project documents such as the work performance report may need to be updated.

Monitoring the project ensures that it is on track to meet objectives. 

Read: How to write an effective project objective, with examples

6. Perform integrated change control

Changes to projects can sometimes be stressful if not handled properly, but with a change control process in place they don’t have to be. 

That’s why change requests must be assessed to ensure they don’t exceed the scope or approach scope creep, which refers to the increase in requirements during the project lifecycle. Some companies even have a dedicated change control board to review change requests related to budget, timelines, and resources, for example. 

An example of project change is if the client asks for additional assets, in which case you’ll need to evaluate the level of impact on the project. 

Use a change control log to document all change requests, including which ones were approved, the associated costs and resources, and how they impact the project timeline. Smooth integration of change requests to current project activities is crucial for the success of the overall project. 

Read: What is change management? 6 steps to build a successful change management process

7. Close out the project

After all project work is complete and deliverables are shipped and approved by the client, it’s time to close the project. 

Project closure involves processes such as:

  • Holding a final stakeholder meeting 

  • Conducting a formal review of the project

  • Closing the contract

  • Organizing and archiving project materials for future use

Project closure serves as a reference for future endeavors and provides insight on how to improve the project integration management system. 

How to implement project integration management

Performing project integration management requires a combination of technical and leadership skills. Here are some tips to help you get started with project integration management. 

Have a project manager oversee integrated project management

Projects have many moving parts to keep track of and a project manager plays an important role in resolving conflicts. A project manager oversees:

Project managers need a thorough understanding of how each factor affects one another and the overall impact on the project. Integrated project management specifically involves a process, phase, and output that the project manager keeps track of.

Have a project manager oversee integrated project management

For instance, if a project has a change in scope, you may run the risk of resource shortages, budget overruns, and delays. Project integration management allows you to reorganize teams and redistribute resources as required to minimize impact to the project and business.

Project integration management can be especially helpful when you have to manage cross-functional teams and organize their project interdependencies. 

Read: 25 essential project management skills you need to succeed

Track time diligently

If you don’t already, implementing time-tracking software could be beneficial, not only for billing purposes but also for future project scheduling. While team calendars provide a high-level overview of how time will be allotted, tracking the number of hours spent on tasks gives you more precise metrics. 

Having this data on hand will be useful for scheduling future projects since it’ll help you make more accurate estimates when planning out specific tasks.  

Establish well-rounded project teams

A good project team can make all the difference in project performance. It’s your job to put together a balanced project team and assign tasks to match team members’ skills and expertise. Make sure everyone has the resources they need and coordinate communication between the teams involved.   

Use project templates to save time

Creating project plans and materials can be time-consuming, especially given how many are required for a single project. Rather than making them from scratch, take advantage of project templates, either from previous projects or premade ones. 

For example, project plan templates or meeting agenda templates can be tailored for various purposes. Templates provide you with a base that you can alter and customize to suit your needs.  

[List view] Brand campaign project plan in Asana, spreadsheet-style list

Collaborate with a team communication tool

Each department has their own communication styles and tools, and projects often require collaboration between different departments. 

To prevent miscommunication or a lack of communication between teams, use a communication plan to establish which channels teams should use to share knowledge, resources, and project status updates. That way, teams can directly communicate with one another and you don’t have to act as the intermediary. 

For example, team communication tools allow you to create a centralized hub for projects, enabling real-time communication and feedback. Team communication tools can also complement the tools you already use since they can integrate with popular remote work tools like Google Drive and Slack. 

Try team communication with Asana for free

The importance of project integration management

Projects are often dynamic and complex, involving multiple teams and organizational processes. To ensure all elements are working cohesively toward the end goal, project integration management is necessary. Here are some benefits of this practice.

Provides coordination and organization throughout the entire project

Project integration management is like an instruction manual you can use to help steer the project in the right direction and make sure all the processes are in sync. As the project moves from phase to phase, it ensures the outputs and documents are in order for the next phase to go smoothly.

Read: 5 project management phases to improve your team’s workflow

Ensures everyone understands their responsibilities

With project integration management, all stakeholders and team members will have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. By monitoring the project diligently, you’ll be able to address questions from teams or stakeholders if there are any points of confusion or issues. 

Keeps project on track

Project integration management keeps projects on track to meet the deadline and budget. It also keeps the project aligned with the project management plan in order to get the promised results or returns. Project integration management helps you resolve conflicts or changes while minimizing the impact on the overall project. 

Maintains smooth communication with stakeholders

Integrated project management ensures stakeholders are kept up to date on project progress. It allows you to create a system for communicating with stakeholders regarding project changes, whether they’re approved or not. It also emphasizes the importance of holding a final meeting after the project is completed to get closure. 

Read: How to write an effective project status report

Makes decisions more clear

Each step in project integration management has defined purposes and outputs. By walking through all the steps, you’ll be able to gain deeper insight into the best course of action for each project phase. Creating thorough project documentation will also allow you to clearly communicate the reasoning behind the plans.

Overall, project integration management benefits everyone involved in the project—the project team, project manager, and stakeholders. 

Deliver results with project integration management

Project integration management brings all your project processes and tasks together. With Asana’s project management software, you have a single source of truth for planning and organizing projects from start to finish.    

To boost project success rates, find out if project management software is right for your team.

Try project management with Asana for free

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