Project Interfaces and their management


Series on project integration, interfaces and context management

Article 2 of 3

By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia


This series of three articles is concerned with project integration. The first article (Stretton 2016h) was essentially an overview of the literature on project integration per se. In spite of its perceived importance to project management, materials specific to the subject are somewhat scarce, fragmented, and disparate, and do not provide good insights about the essential elements of project integration.

The first article noted that many authors strongly associate project integration with project interfaces and their management, and signalled that this second article will look at the rather modest materials on project interface management in more detail (which hopefully may provide further insights about project integration at large). It will be found that different authors have different perceptions of the nature of project interfaces, and of which they see as the important ones. Over thirty project interfaces are identified, and are broadly classified and accumulated into a table. This could be seen as a basic checklist for project managers who are establishing and/or managing this component of project integration. It also provides a listing of project contexts which are relevant to the third article of this series.


In the first article it was pointed out that many writers link project integration with project interface management. For example, Stuckenbruck 1988 said:

Project managers carry out their function of project integration primarily by carefully managing all of the many diverse interfaces within their projects.

Struen 2011 also links the two very directly:

Need for integration of project processes is evident when interfaces must be established for the processes to interact.

This second article looks in more detail at project interfaces and their management.


In the following I draw heavily on just a few authors who appear to have made the biggest contributions in this area.

Healy 1997

Healy 1997:268 describes project interfaces rather succinctly as follows.

An interface is a boundary where an interdependency exists across that boundary and where responsibility for the interdependency changes across that boundary.

Healy goes on to say (p.269) that

Interfaces arise because work is broken down into parts and each of the parts is carried out by or executed by different people or organisations. The definition of the parts may depend on technology, on economics, on geography or a host of other factors. …. The project manager can also impose interfaces to help in the management of the project. …..

No matter how the work is divided up, there is always the problem of linking the various parts and so a need for interface management.

Healy 1997:Ch 12 effectively has the following three broad categories of interfaces.

  • Interfacing the client
  • Maintaining external interfaces
  • Managing internal interfaces


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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

Alan 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 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/.