Life around us is about integration. Think about it!
Nature grows by integrating the air, water, and light around it. Human society is about integrating one another. The breakfast, lunch, or dinner tastes good only when the ingredients are well-integrated. The cars, trains, mobiles, TVs, washing machines, and every other device makes an impact only because of the integration of its components. In my view, the role of project managers can be described in one word as – an integrator. No wonder, the PMBOK Guide published by PMI (USA) lays special emphasis on ‘project integration management’ as the core role of a project manager. It baffles me when organizations offer lip service to an ‘integrated project management’ view while selecting their project management software!
To quote Aristotle, “We are what we do repeatedly. If so, excellence is a matter of habit.”
Today, the world of business is talking about two aspects.
- Business excellence, and
- Project economy
Let us set the context by understanding the above terms a bit.
Business excellence is about ensuring that organizations deliver ‘value’ day-in and day-out. And how do organizations go about achieving business excellence? Project management as a discipline has significantly evolved over the last 50 years, and organizations worldwide have realized its true potential. Today, most businesses are managed the ‘project’ way. But it is not enough to embrace project management – organizations must take a holistic or an integrated project management approach.
The canvas of a business enterprise includes people, processes, and systems that coordinate to deliver products and services.
A few questions that arise are:
- What is an integrated project management?
- What are the dimensions of integrated project management?
- What are the implications of not having integrated project management?
- What must business leaders focus on?
Understanding integrated project management basics
Traditionally, project management referred to combining scope, schedule, resources, and costs. But with projects becoming global, more complex, and high value, it includes dimensions of quality, procurement, and risks. Project managers are expected not just expected to manage one aspect at a time – they need to get a combined or integrated view!
Integrated project management dimensions
Prior to 2000, the scale and complexity of projects were in the range of simple to moderate. Project managers could manage projects through good documentation supported by simple tools such as Spreadsheets and Word Documents. With technology racing ahead, today’s projects are more uncertain, complex, and are of high value. Additionally, organizations have invested in enterprise-level applications such as ERPs, CRMs, Accounting, AutoCAD, and others. In such a scenario, integrated project management goes up a few notches above and includes –
- Technical dimensions such as scope, schedule, resources, quality, procurement, and risks
- Leadership dimensions such as stakeholder collaboration & engagement, communication, influencing, negotiating, and conflict management – their interactions and collaborations – in both face-to-face setting as well as a virtual one, driven by technological advancements.
- Systems dimensions that consider the role and impact of ERPs, CRMs, and other applications that send/receive data associated with the project
- Strategic dimensions such as organizational vision, goals & objectives, industry & competitor trends, etc.
Implications of a disconnected project management
In such a dynamic scenario, it is not a surprise that business leaders are not sure of the level of ‘data integrity.’ This further means that leaders do not have access to the ‘one version of truth’ – the implications range from severe to disastrous. The quality of ‘data’ affects the confidence of decisions made. Ineffective and bad decisions hit the very foundation of an organization – its survival.
The focus of business leaders
If organizational leaders are serious about how decisions are impacted by the ‘one version of truth’, they must invest in project management systems that are ‘truly’ integrated.
What are the characteristics of a truly integrated project management software?
- Level 1 integration: This should address the project management dimensions of scope, schedule, resources, and cost. Today, this is where about 90% of project management software fall.
- Level 2 integration: In addition to level 1, this should address the additional dimensions of quality (metrics & defects), procurement, financials (business case definition to realization), risks & issues, communication, and stakeholder collaboration. We expect about 5% of project management software to operate at this level.
- Level 3 integration: In addition to level 2, the project management software should integrate back and forth and seamlessly with large and complex ERPs, CRMs, Accounting, Engineering, and other applications. Where needed, the project should pull data from these applications and when required, push data to these applications. Some examples include:
- Scheduled milestone completion should trigger an alert to raise an invoice in the Accounting system
- Customer payment received in the Accounting system should be fed back to the project management system against the relevant deliverable.
- A purchase order should be triggered by the project when a component is not available for the project; when the vendor delivers these components, the project manager should be notified within his project management software
- A customer should be able to approve a drawing directly into the performing organization’s project management software, and…
- …many more!
Along with these, the ‘integrated project management software’ should reflect the ‘one version of project management truth.’ While some of the project management software support this level of integration, they are restricted to the peripheries and not much deeper. We expect just 1% of the project management software currently is designed to deliver a ‘truly integrated project management experience.’
To sum it up –
- business leaders realize the above dimensions of integrated project management
- evaluate potential project management solutions against a relevant set of criteria – to sustain and grow their organizations…profitably!
We at ProductDossier realized these dimensions of truly integrated project management and have incorporated them in our flagship product TouchBase.
We welcome you to explore the power of a truly integrated project management solution.
- Achieve Business Excellence with an Integrated Project Management Software - February 16, 2021