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Integration Management and Charter

“If you were asked, ‘what is a project manager’s main role?’, what would you say? The answer is to perform integration management – to put all the pieces of a project together into a cohesive whole.” Rita Mulcahy, pg 97

So, we’ve made it through the summary of each of the process groups. We’ve seen what PMI is saying are the key process groups for the exam, and what Mulcahy lists as the core tasks under each process group. Now, we’ll get into the meat of the studying, and we’ll do that by moving out of the silos of each of the process groups, and looking at the knowledge groups that make up project management. So, the first is integration management- combining all of the work into “one cohesive whole that gets the project done faster, cheaper, and with fewer resources, while meeting the project objectives” (Mulcahy 97)

Integration management is the high level work that a project manager does. Some examples provided here are “to complete a cost estimate, for example, risk reserves, the number of resources on a project, the scope being estimated, etc., should be taken into account (Mulcahy 97).”

Mulcahy goes on to provide a diagram of which knowledge areas fall into each of the process groups. Integration management is the only one that falls into all 5, and includes such activities as developing the charter, creating the Project Management plan, working the plan, performing integrated change control and closing the project (Mulcahy 98-99). What’s interesting to note here is that, over the next few chapters, discussing the knowledge areas, she identifies which activities in each process group roll up under one of the knowledge areas. For Integration management, she identifies nearly all of the initiating and closing activities here. Initiating and Closing are therefore linked together, in both the fact that what is determined in the Initiating process is signed off on in the Closing, wrapping the project up into an integrated whole, and being the section that most people skip over when they look at a project.

Because we start with the Initiating group, the first deliverable portion of the Integration management is developing the project charter. The charter lays out the Statement of Work, business case for the project, the constraints limiting the project (budget, time, resources), the assumptions of the project, and a high-level view of the risks. Also included are descriptions of the project manager’s role and authority, who the stakeholders are and the requirements they’ve set for the project, the project’s objectives, and the project’s approval requirements (Mulcahy 100-101). Remember back to the Initiating group, when we identified the project charter as one of the last things to complete in the group, after reviewing the history and culture, the business case, the initial requirements and creating the measurable objectives? We gather all of this information to include it in the charter.

But, we can go one better, and pull in the PMBOK definitions. The charter established a partnership between the performing organization and the requesting organization. The approved project charter formally initiates the project (PMBOK 73). So, of course the elements above are in the charter: if the charter is the contract between the project team (the performers) and the sponsors (the requesters) then of course it will specify what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, who is driving and how much control they have, what the limitations are, and what constitutes success.

For the project manager, the charter dictates what is expected of you, how you can do it, and how you know you’re done. Also, since it names the project manager, it gives the PM authority to spend money and assign resources. And, finally, it links the project to the ongoing work of the organization (Mulcahy 102). The charter ends up being one of the most critical documents for the project, possibly even the most critical. If, during the course of the project, substantial changes need to be made to the charter, then a serious rethink of the project itself needs to take place. Can you really hit the target if the target has just changed size, the colors inverted and it moved behind you?



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