PMP Exam Prep – Part 7: Project Integration Management

This section is relatively easy to study for. If you’ve worked on a number of sizable projects, you probably would have participated in some of these processes, even if your Organization called them something else. Most candidates will not find Integration Management too difficult, as there aren’t any complex mathematical formulas to apply, nor any sophisticated tools to use in the exam. There is a lot of material to cover, however.

Things to be tested on

  1. Develop Project Charter
  2. Develop Project Management Plan
  3. Direct and Manage Project Execution
  4. Monitor and Control Project Work
  5. Perform Integrated Change Control
  6. Close Project or Phase

This section of the PMBOK is more concentrated on project plan development. Most people don’t spend a huge amount of time digging into this part of the class. If you actively practice project management this will be okay.

HINT: Don’t focus solely on the PMBOK as your only study guide. It provides an excellent frame of reference, but it doesn’t cover all of the concepts in detail that you need learn to pass the exam.

Develop Project Charter

According to PMI, the Project Charter is a crucial document that should be created at the inception of every project. The Charter is a formal document that serves to fulfill the following needs:

  • Project Statement of Work (SOW): In many cases, this document would have been created in a pre-sales phase of the engagement. It can be thought of as a document that reflects a mutual understanding between the customer (entity paying for the work) and contractor (entity doing the work).
  • Business Case: What was the business rationale for this project? In other words, why are we doing this?
  • High Level Goals and Objectives: What do we hope to accomplish by performing this project?
  • Identify of the Project Manager: The Project Manager can use this document as recognition of his formal authority pertaining to a specific project and this comes useful when the Project Manager needs to marshal resources in the latter stages of the project.
  • Formal sign-off by a project stakeholder: Probably the most important function of the Charter, this indicates that someone in Senior Management has formally sanctioned this project and also that the Project Manager should be empowered to perform actions necessary to get the project moving forward.

It’s important to note that because the Charter is a document that is created in the very early stages of a project, many key elements that come on to define the project may not have been discovered yet. For example, at the creation of a Charter, we may not yet know how exactly we will be going about doing the actual work to accomplish our high level goals and objectives.  We probably wouldn’t have even assembled a project team yet. Many of the constraints and assumptions may not be defined either. It therefore makes sense that the Project Charter is deliberately kept at a very high-level, meaning to say that the Charter shouldn’t go into too much detail.

Develop Project Plan

According to PMI, the development of the Project Plan involves using the outputs of the other project planning processes to create a coherent, consistent document that is used as a guide for project execution and control. Note that the plan is used for guiding execution and control and does not actually do execution or control processes. It also helps to clarify the notion of constraints and assumptions

Assumptions

Assumptions are factors that for planning purposes might be considered to be true, real or certain. This can be considered to be a risk. Assumptions should always be evaluated for accuracy later on!

Constraints

Constraints are factors that might restrict a team’s options. For example, constraints can come in the order of Contract fixed costs, or schedules.

The Triple Constraint –This is an important concept that you will be required to understand for the exam. The triple constraint basically indicates that there are three forces that are imposed on a project, namely Time (Schedule), Cost (Resources) and Scope (Requirements). These three forces work in tandem to influence how a project can progress.  Typically when one of the triple constraint changes, it will impact the other two constraints and a project manager should be aware of this.

Stakeholders and Stakeholder Management

One of the primary responsibilities of a Project Manager is in managing the interests of all the related stakeholders in a project. Stakeholders can be defined as any person or entity that has an interest in the project. This also includes people who have a negative interest in the project

  • Customers
  •  Management
  • Team
  • Project Sponsor
  • Performing Organization (especially in Matrix organization)
Exam Hint: Stakeholder ResponsibilitiesIn the exam, you will be frequently asked to define the responsibilities for the various stakeholders. For example, the project team is responsible for assembling the project plan. Exam: Who is responsible for the project plan? A: Project Team is.

Project Management Information System

Any method that is used to identify information, review information, make information easier to understand for stakeholders.  This could also be even a form on a sheet of paper.

Direct and Manage Project Execution

This is can be seen as putting the plan into practice. Remember execution is one of the 5 project process groups, which also relates to control.  It is important to note that execution and control go together.In the execution phase of a project, the majority of a budget is spent as well the majority of time in the project. Whenever you hear most of the time or all of the time in the exam, you can start looking for the execution phase.

General Management skills

A good project manager should possess good Management qualities overall. PMI indicates the following five general management skills that can be memorized by the mnemonic – PLINC, like the sound the keys make on a piano

  • Problem solving: Defining a problem, making a decision and influencing a company to make things get done. Power- potential ability to influence behavior and get people to do things they otherwise might not do. Politics- getting collective action from different people who might have different interests.
  • Leading: A leader provides direction and guides the team towards achieving project results.  This involves establishing direction and aligning, motivating and inspiring people.Note that managing isthe act ofconsistently producing results that stakeholders expect. Note: The project manager is designated officially as the manager, but at any time, any member of the team can display leadership skills.
  • Influencing:  This refers to theability to get the results that you want, to influence actions or behavior in an organization.
  • Negotiating:  Dealing with team members, functional managers and customers.
  • Communicating: Making sure that accurate information is provided to appropriate parties at the right time.

Management by Objective (MBO)

Peter Drucker, one of the fathers of modern management, developed MBO. Basically, as we look at a project, we need to define what kind of work we need to achieve and how does the work align with the objectives or strategy of the organization. Here, PMI is looking for a link back to the organization. PMI wants us to be aware of how senior management sets objectives and how they are executed lower down in the hierarchy and how our projects contribute to these corporate objectives.

According to MBO, the objectives must be measurable and unambiguous, realistic and mutually accepted by the performing organization as well as the functional organization or sponsor organization. For example, if we use the analogy of painting a room, we might initially use the statement of  ‘I would like to paint my room a pleasing color’. This statement is not specific enough. With the application of MBO to this task would be as follows: ‘Management wants this room painted Aspen 101 Grey, Aspen 102 Gray, Sherwin Williams semi-gloss latex and they want it no later than by Friday with a color to match the chip precisely’ – this is a precise objective that is easier to carry out and less susceptible for misinterpretation.

There is a process involved in achieving Management By Objective organizationally. The steps can be listed below:

  1. Establish unambiguous and realistic objectives. (This means that multiple people can read an objective and have the same idea of what this objective means.) We know what there is to be done for an objective and we know we have the skills and tools necessary to perform the objective as well.
  2. Periodically evaluate if project objectives are being achieved. Looking at the project lifecycle, plenty of opportunity to look back at the beginning and end of each phase to see if we are meeting the objective that we had set forth.
  3. After the evaluation, we should act on the results of the evaluation.
    1. If we’re doing great, then we should maybe adjust our schedule
    2. If we are not doing so well, then perhaps we should bring in some people.

The key takeaways of MBO are that good metrics will determine if you have a good way to measure how well the objectives are being reached. Getting Management to buy into your metrics is also important to the success of your project.

Work Authorization System

The Work Authorization System becomes a formal process in which a person says ‘Okay, this work is supposed to be done and I release this.’ Some important points for an organization to look out for are as follows:

  1. Who is approving the work and how it is being authorized.
  2. Someone who has to sanction the work. The scope cannot be changed so easily.
  3. In a lot of Organizations, this step is skipped.

 

Monitor and Control Project Work

This is the process of measuring and identifying project progress. In other words, how are we doing so far? This can take place at different times throughout the project. For the exam, you will need to be aware of 2 types of evaluations.

  1. Mid-project Evaluation. This can occur more than once throughout the project. At some throughout the project, such as at the end of a project life-cycle phase or when a critical milestone has been done, it is time to see if the project is meeting its objectives. AKA – Project Audit.  Analogy – auditor is someone who shows up after a battle and shoots the wounded.
  2. Final (Post)-project evaluation. When the project is complete, you find lessons learned for the purposes of sharing the information with other project teams.

Exam Hint: Purpose of evaluations
Exams would ask if these evaluations are used to ascribe blame or to punish. The answer is NO. Simply for the purposes of understanding where the project has been, where the project is going and what went right or wrong. To analyze the systems and see how they were applied successfully or badly.

PMI wants us to conduct the evaluations with all teams and treat each team fairly and consistently every time.

Customer satisfaction

The concept of customer satisfaction ties back into setting the right expectations. By definition, customer satisfaction is satisfying the requirements as opposed to exceeding expectations.  Several points that should be noted as follows:

  • It doesn’t take extras to satisfy the customer
  • Objective is to tie-in back to expectations.
  • Relates to an accurate needs analysis of how customer expectations are satisfied.

Progress Reports

Evaluations and Progress Reports are not the same. Progress reports are defined as the gathering of information and the establishing of what decisions need to be made in the future. Looking at the past, but looking at it in the present to realize what decisions will be made to affect our future. You need to know the difference between the kinds of reports.

  • Status Report – tells us where are we today at this point in time
  • General progress report – tells us where we have been
  • Trend Analysis Report – how these things are going to project us into the future
  • Variance Analysis
  • Exception Reports
  • Cost reporting (Cost Management)
  • General Types of reports such as – Gant Charts, Network Diagrams, Milestone Charts. (Time Management)

Work Results

This is defined as an output of the project plan execution or as the results of the project plan. We want to see if work was performed according to what was planned in the WBS.  When results are different from what was planned, then we need to create a change request

Perform Integrated Change Control

PMI recommends that a formal be adopted by an organization to manage changes. For instance, a change request should be made whenever modification of scope/schedule/resources occurs in some way or another during the project. This is because any change has the potential to impact the triple constraint and may have far reaching implications on the success of the project.. Therefore Integrated Change Control puts down some ground rules to manage these changes.

  1. The project team cannot willingly make changes to a project without formal authorization (See next point).
  2. Changes will only occur with the sanction of a Change Control Board (CCB) or Systems Configuration Control Board (SCCB).
  3. The CCB can comprise of members from your organization as well as the customer’s organization. This works to the Project Manager’s advantage in being able to turn down requests from a customer if the CCB has turned down the request.
  4. There may be more than one CCB in a large project or and for very small projects,  a single person might be the CCB.

Don’t concern yourself with the size or scale of the change, but instead focus on the function. Questions can be asked to aid in this process. For example, ‘How is this change going to affect our scope, resources and requirements?’ Ultimately, the key point to take note of here is that a customer requires a change and there is a formal process whereby that change is evaluated.

Implementing Change

Practically speaking, when it comes to change, each project can either stand on its own or have multiple dependencies on other projects. The change process can be protracted or it can be very short. Some projects have a threshold of change, meaning to say that the Project Manager has within his remit certain thresholds for change that he is authorized to approve. Anything beyond that threshold would require submitting the changes to a CCB for approval.

Configuration Management

This occurs in large organizations, which follow rigid change management processes. When you try to change anything, you are asked to ‘use a form’. While typically thought of as time consuming, a properly managed configuration management system is not necessarily a bad thing. Good configuration management systems typically follow a small set of rules:

  • The deliverable has to be defined with great clarity
  • We have to rigorously control change to that deliverable
  • We have to make sure that the deliverable is consistent with the existing system

The concept of internal consistency or traceability applies, as we migrate from the detailed design, to the general design and to the specifications, over to the WBS and then back and forth across all of the processes, we should still come up with the same answer. This is also a principle benefit of the paradigm of Management by Objective or MBO, that there isn’t any wasted effort or work performing activities or functions that will not drive the completion of the project’s objectives.

The WBS is born from the requirements, the requirements are developed from customer needs, and these should be evident in the general design and the detailed specifications.

Audits

Audits are crucial in a configuration management environment. This is because we need to ensure that our strict standards are being adhered to. We need to be very thorough and the way to achieve this is through audits.

Lessons Learned

Project lessons learned is a process where we explicitly try to identify that we have learned something from a project. We want to focus on the end result of a project plus the process that we used to get to that end result.  Lessons learned are documented and kept in a centralized repository where it can be accessed by other users and readily accessible

The rationale here is that an organization is doomed to repeat the same mistakes unless it can find a way to document these lessons and transmit them to others who can benefit in the future.

Summary:  Project Integration Management.

“Project management is supposed to be at one with the organization.”

  1. Project definitions.
  2. 5 Basic Process Groups.
  3. Constraints and Assumptions
  4. PMIS
  5. Project Plan and Project Plan execution fundamentals
  6. General management skills
  7. MBO – Establishing Unambiguous Objectives
  8. Reports  – Types of reports and audits and the evaluations that go along with them
  9. Change Control – All the forms that go along with this.

Conclusion

In this section, we covered Project Integration Management, a crucial aspect of project management, where the diverse elements of the project are coordinated together in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

In the next section, we will start to cover the first of the Triple Constraints: the Project Scope Management knowledge area.

Hope this has been useful and thanks for all the great comments!

Ook! Road Chimp, signing out.

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