They say that a company is more like an organism than an organization. That’s because every company is made up of people, and people ebb and flow. Individual performance fluctuates. Focus surges before it wanes. That’s why integrated project management has been a hot topic ever since it was introduced in 2012 by the Project Management Institute.
Integrated project management is defined as: The integration of company processes, resources, culture, leadership styles, and reporting into a comprehensive project management strategy. It is a holistic approach to getting things done efficiently while accounting for all the factors that affect project management.
It’s a beast of it's own, but one that's worth understanding. That’s why we wrote this article – to simplify integrated project management so everyone can benefit.
It’s a complex topic studied by most enterprise firms to improve efficiency. But integrated project management principles can be used by small companies too. In fact, if you plan to scale it’s better to think about it sooner than later.Here are the key components:
The primary goal is to understand and outline the complexity of projects and processes, plan for how to improve them, and integrate them into your company in a way that teams can handle.
Let’s explore how you can easily account for each item.
A project is a one-time effort to produce a measurable result. For example, building a piece of software or launching an advertising campaign. It has a clear start time and end time.
A process is a repetitive activity that contributes to the ongoing operations of your company. For example, the way a manager approves a piece of work before sending it to a client or the way a sales agent executes a call script.
With a little patience, you can reverse engineer your business model and account for every process and type of project necessary to be successful. The next step is to organize those projects and processes in a meaningful way.
First, you should document these processes and project types in a company handbook. Then, use project management software to build an actionable framework.
We use DoneDone projects and DoneDone workflows to execute projects and processes respectively.DoneDone project folders contain all the tasks necessary to complete each project. This is a great way to keep things organized.
Custom workflows can be used to model the steps in each process. Then those processes can be applied to the relevant project types. This is a foolproof way to make sure that your teams follow the processes outlined for the projects they are working on.
Almost every project has a process associated with it. Most processes generate tasks that become pieces of larger projects. An integrated project management plan takes these nuances into account.
For example, a Christmas marketing campaign project may be driven by a “campaign planning” process. That process may include steps like:
The item “write call-to-action” may generate a task for your copywriter to execute as a part of the larger project. This would be something to check off as a completed item.
The item “pass creative works along to the publisher” may not necessarily be an item to check off, but it should be an actionable step recognized in the plan. DoneDone workflows make those actionable steps visible in the project management tool.
Go over the types of projects and processes you will need for your company to run like a well-oiled machine. Then implement them into your project management software to provide direction to your staff.
The main goal is to make sure that the key stakeholders get a clear picture of how smoothly projects and processes are running. High-level project managers need to be able to quickly identify inefficiencies and fix them.
Large companies usually have a project management office (PMO) to review all the statistics. But smaller companies can take a much simpler approach by generating relevant reports from their project management tools. Here is an example of a customer support process report. A project manager could quickly notice that the average resolution time for this company needs improvement!
A successful integrated project management approach will account for the most relevant reports, who they should go to, and what should happen once they are reviewed.
This is where things can get really complex. Enterprise companies may dedicate the time and resources to capturing every project management data point possible. Including every small detail within a project. But to keep our integrated project management simple we want to focus on capturing only the minimum of project data necessary to make a decision about the effectiveness of a project type.Some of the most important metrics in our opinion include:
At the most basic level, this is enough information for an agile project manager to determine if the project category should remain a part of the company portfolio, or if they should look for other options.
As you take a closer look at your project management processes, you may find gaps in your existing talent. This could expose your projects to potential failure or inefficiency.
For example, if you are developing a piece of software you may find that you have everything to get it built but no 3rd party resource to test it. Without a tester, you may deliver the software with significant errors and bugs.
Find out where you need help and fill those talent gaps.
Similarly, you may discover gaps in your processes through a process audit. Those process gaps may have been slowing down your work for a long time.
For example, you may have wondered why some teams in your company perform really well and others don’t. Through a process discovery session, you might find that one team does a full final test before making their work public. But the other team immediately makes their work public as soon as they consider it to be finished, without a final test. This audit reveals that you had never set up final testing as a part of your process. Now you can implement it.
One of the most important and overlooked parts of integrated project management is how company culture plays a role. During your review process, look for ways that employee behavior is slowing your company down. Are there certain members of your staff who approach their work with the wrong mentality?
For example, do people have a habit of coming to work late or taking half-days regularly? Maybe that’s why your customer support response times are low. Do people care more about buttering up a manager rather than making the perfect product? Maybe that’s why you don’t have a process for quality control.
Examining company culture can reveal big gaps in efficiency and process. Keep company culture integrated into your project management strategy.
Last but not least, plan to review your project management strategy once or twice per year. Your business is always changing and growing. As you add new product lines, services, and employees you will need to make small pivots in your project management plan.
Constant maintenance of your plan will ensure that you’re always running at the most efficient level. Proactive reviews will mean less firefighting for you and your team in the future.
Ultimately, the strength of your leadership will determine the success of your integrated project management effort. You will be making alterations to processes and team structures throughout this effort. That will almost certainly cause anxiety for many of your employees. The ability to roll out changes incrementally, thoughtfully, and firmly will matter.
The best leaders will excel at building the best teams, motivating the members, and conveying the importance of each task.
Good luck on your journey to integrated project management!
Teams love using DoneDone because it makes project management across teams simple. From better team communication to improved processes, progress visibility, and accessibility, it’ll help you work better together.