Integration Knowledge Area

Small Projects Need Glue: Project Integration Management (Part Three)

This is the latest in a series that addresses the unique circumstances of small projects within the framework of PMI’s Knowledge Areas.

In this post, I’ll explore how small projects can adapt some of PMI’s Integration Management processes.  Although I’ll talk about each process, not all can be tailored because to do so would be unwise and threaten the success of the project.

Given the breadth of Project Integration Management, this topic is split into three.  In Part One, I talked about Develop Project Charter and Develop Project Management Plan.  Part Two focused on Direct and Manage Project Work.  Today I’ll discuss the final three processes in Integration Management:  Monitor and Control Project Work, Perform Integrated Change Control, and Close Project or Phase.

Initiating Process Group

Planning Process Group

Executing Process Group

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

Closing Process Group

Develop Project Charter  Develop Project Management Plan  Direct and Manage Project Work 
  • Monitor and Control Project Work
  • Perform Integrated Change Control
Close Project or Phase 

According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (5th edition), Monitor and Control Project Work is “the process of tracking, reviewing, and reporting project progress against the performance objectives defined in the project management plan” (p. 63).  Unfortunately, here is another process that may not be tailored out.  It’s vital for projects of all sizes to use the performance metrics generated in the Direct and Manage Project Work process.  In this case, “use” means to analyze them and then take action based on the results.

With regard to Perform Integrated Change Control, there are some opportunities to right-size the scale of this process to a small project.  This process focuses on the management of the inevitable proposed changes to cost, scope, schedule, or quality that every project will encounter.  Since all projects are defined in an environment of uncertainty, there will always be necessary refinements to those parameters.  Nonetheless, the process does not have to be as involved, but the discipline with which it is followed must be rigorous.

On a large project, there will be a lot of formality with regard to the forms used to document the change, the required information, the members of the Change Control Board, when the proposed change can be submitted within the project’s established Status Cycle, and who needs to sign.  With a small project, it’s probable a circulated email will suffice.  The same information is required – description of the change and impact – but perhaps a meeting will not be required and the authorization to proceed can be given informally over email.  The result of the approval process needs to be published to everyone and the email needs to be stored with other project documentation for reference, but all the other hoops can be bypassed.

Finally, the Close Project or Phase process is another important one for projects of all sizes to implement.  This is the process that puts a bow on the conclusion of a lifecycle phase – such as Planning – or defines what activities are involved in project closure.  Unfortunately, projects of all sizes also tend to skip this step or give it short shrift.

To clarify: teams excel at performing the steps required to advance from one lifecycle phase to another but not so good at closing out the project.  At that stage, people are beginning to transition – or have already departed – for their next assignment.  There’s excitement about being done and very few people want to continue to work on a project successfully concluded because it’s administrative.  Nonetheless, it must be completed because it is at this stage of the project where Lessons Learned are captured, control accounts are closed, and project documentation is aggregated and stored for easy retrieval, as required.

The best way to handle this process for large or small efforts is to work on it throughout the project.  Don’t wait until the end of the project to capture Lessons Learned – when something important has been discovered, document it right away else time and resource reassignment will ensure the knowledge and insight will be lost to the organization for good.

Likewise, also establish a central, document repository at the beginning of the project.  (Doesn’t it seem as if there should be an Open Project or Phase process?)   Provide training to team members and set the expectation that all important communications, documents, and deliverables will be stored there throughout the life of the project.

Next:  Procurement Management!




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