If you were asked to describe project managers with one word, what would it be? Planner? Leader? Organizer?
These are all great descriptors, but I’d like to offer my favorite — Integrator.
The word “integrate” means to “combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.” Like a child putting Lego pieces together to build a house, project managers put the project pieces together to create unique products and services, transforming their organizations.
We see integrators in many facets of life. General contractors integrate foundations, walls, roofs, windows, doors, electrical systems, heat and air systems, and water systems to create houses. Coaches integrate ball players with different skills and experience to create winning teams. How do businesses deliver products and services? Operational managers assimilate people, processes, technologies, and external resources, which are interdependent, one with another.
Practically speaking, how do project managers perform integration management?
How to Blend Your Knowledge
The best project managers know how to blend their knowledge in different areas such as scope management, cost management, and risk management. Imagine a project manager, Jane, leading a work breakdown structure exercise (WBS) with her project team resulting in work packages or activities. After completing the WBS, she facilitated an exercise to identify significant risks and estimated contingency reserves for her “Known Unknown” risks.
Do you see the power of integration management? Each process produces outputs that can be used as inputs for other processes. Value-added project managers orchestrate their project work in a manner that creates harmony and accelerates the project.
In contrast, weak project managers see their project management activities as independent tasks, simply checking off the checklist. Their stakeholders are baffled by these meaningless activities.
How Does a Project Manager Bring All the Pieces Together?
Project managers should possess integration management skills such as the ability to develop a project charter and perform change control. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) specifies the following processes for each of the process groups:
Performed in this Process Group
Develop Project Charter
Develop Project Management Plan
Direct and Manage Project Work
|Manage Project Knowledge||Executing|
Monitor and Control Project Work
Monitoring and controlling
Perform Integrated Change Control
Monitoring and controlling
Review one or two of your projects and ask yourself:
- Do you have a project charter that clearly defines the project objectives, deliverables, assumptions, constraints, high-level risks, stakeholders, and team?
- Was the project plan developed in an integrated fashion that provides value to the team and the project?
- Are the project teams performing the work defined in the project management plan?
- Are you monitoring and controlling your project work? Are you comparing the actuals to your planned activities and identifying what is causing undesirable variances?
- Do you have a practical change control process? Who approves your change requests?
- Have you been closing out your projects to ensure that the project work was completed and that the project objectives were met?
Project Plan Checklist. Do you know what to include in your project plan? Grab your copy of the Project Management Plan Checklist.