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A note on management integration in project contexts

COMMENTARY 

By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia
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INTRODUCTION 

For some time I have been uneasy about how management of integration in the project context is handled in the literature – mainly because it does not connect well with my own experience. Recently I was introduced to some work on project integration by an old colleague, Ted Tooher, which has helped give me a better understanding of the problems and opportunities involved in effective integration on projects, and has prompted me to pen this commentary. 

INTEGRATION AND MANAGEMENT 

Management at large 

It appears to me that the key job of all managers is integration. This is the raison d’etre for having managers in the first place, and it is implicit in most of the classical definitions of managers. For example, Allen 1962 said

….we can define a manager as someone who is so placed organizationally that only

he has the perspective, objectivity, and balance with respect to the varying and sometimes conflicting needs of his subordinates.

In this definition, the focus of management integration is decision making in the sense of providing overall balance to contributions by subordinates. Other definitions often imply other forms of integration, although seldom explicitly.

Another way of looking at the situation is to ask the question, “If the manager is not acting as an integrator, who is?”

The functions of management which are commonly depicted as being involved in management at large (and thence in management integration) are commonly depicted as being planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (e.g. Allen 2004, Mukhi et al 1988), or something very similar (e.g. Koontz & O’Donnell 1978). These can then be regarded as the manager’s integration tools. 

Project management

Project managers are widely regarded as integrators. For example, the PMBOK Guide (PMI 2013a) has had project integration management as one of its knowledge areas since the 1996 edition. The APM Body of Knowledge (APM 2012) has a major section on Integrative Management.

The components of these two management integration units are shown in the following table, with an attempt at roughly aligning APM components with those of PMI 2013a. 

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About the Author

flag-australiaalan-stretton-bioAlan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management

and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)

Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia) 

Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 120 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].