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Project Integration

SERIES ARTICLE

Series on project integration, interfaces and context management
Article 1 of 3

By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia


INTRODUCTION

This series of three articles is concerned with project integration. This first article is essentially an overview of what the literature has to say about project integration per se. The second article will discuss the management of project interfaces, which is strongly associated with project integration. The third article will discuss project contexts and their management, which are also strongly associated with both project integration and project interface management.

This article first confirms that project integration is regarded by many (if not most) project management writers and practitioners as the primary function of project management. However, in spite of its perceived importance, the project management literature does not have many materials which specifically focus on this topic.

Moreover, we find that the materials that do exist vary rather substantially – and sometimes very substantially – in their approaches and/or contents, and therefore do not provide good insights about the essential elements of project integration. However, as noted above, the literature has more material on the closely associated management of project interfaces, which may help throw further light on integration. This will be discussed in more detail in the second article of this series.

After noting that some of the above differing broad viewpoints on project integration may be due to the fact that project management knowledge is not context free, we look at materials on integration from Shenhar & Dvir 2007 that are indirectly linked to project contexts. Their NTCP model has a wide range of different integration approaches which are recommended as appropriate to four project ‘dimensions’, and component ‘types’, whose assignments are largely determined by contextual factors in the project’s environment. The third article of this series will discuss the management of project contexts in more detail.

THE NATURE OF INTEGRATION       

Integration is a word in common usage, and with a well understood meaning. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines integration as

The making up or composition of the whole by adding together or combining separate parts; combination into a whole.

Integration in an organisational context

The management role at large was long ago defined in an integrative context, as for example by Allen 1962 (albeit a little indirectly), as follows:

….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 sometimes conflicting needs of his subordinates.

At a more detailed level, Morris 1988 first approaches the broad subject of integration from a systems perspective. His initial concerns are with systems and sub system boundaries and interfaces, which he discusses quite extensively. He moves on to discuss degrees of differentiation between subsystems, followed by considerations of interdependencies between subsystems, from which he develops the following discussion on integration in a broad organisational context.

Integration becomes important when the degree of organisational interdependence becomes significant. Research has shown that tighter organisational integration is necessary when

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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon), Life Fellow of AIPM (Australia), a pioneer in the field of professional project management and one of the most widely recognized voices in the practice of program and project management.   Long retired, Alan is still accepting some of the most challenging research and writing assignments; he is a frequent contributor to the PM World Journal.  See his author profile below.

 


 

About the Author

141215-pmwj30-new-stretton-PHOTO
Alan Stretton, PhD

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)

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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 170 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.