As large organizations implement newer and more effective project management methodologies, they often struggle to ensure that projects and processes are managed in a consistent manner across the entire company. Due to varying business needs or individual preferences, teams in one department might wish to manage their projects differently from teams in other departments. While some degree of flexibility in this regard can be beneficial, organizations still need to maintain a high level of integration in their project management practices in order to direct their activities toward successfully achieving their long-term strategic goals.
Integrated project management—in which all of an organization’s business units use a consistent approach to project management and share information about project needs and objectives—is essential for maintaining or improving team efficiency and project effectiveness within a growing company.
Project vs. Process
One highly important, but often overlooked, factor that organizations should consider when evaluating their project management integration is the distinction between projects and processes. While both projects and processes are activities that typically involve multiple steps or tasks being performed in order to meet a business need, there are meaningful differences between the two that companies need to recognize in order to properly align their efforts. The key distinction between the projects and processes is that a project has a clearly-defined end, while a process is an ongoing activity that continues as long as the organization believes necessary.
When everyone within an organization understands the difference between a project and a process, it becomes much easier to understand whether a specific task is part of an ongoing process, or should be viewed as project-related. For example, software companies often use very specific guidelines to determine when a customer implementation (a project) is complete and when ongoing product support (a process) should begin. These guidelines help ensure that everyone on the implementation and support teams know when they should respond to the customer, so that no requests or inquiries accidentally go unanswered.
Rather than allowing individual projects to exist in silos, large companies need to take a strategic approach to project portfolio management, grouping related projects together and guiding them as a whole toward larger, long-term goals. While portfolio management once posed a serious challenge at the enterprise level, a new generation of project and portfolio management solutions now provide portfolio managers with the tools they need to maintain a clear view of timelines and resource demands across dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of projects at the same time.
Of course, in order for an organization’s project integration management to be effective in the long term, project managers and teams must share information with stakeholders across the entire company. Sophisticated enterprise-level project management tools, like those provided by Clarizen, give managers and executives the power they need to view relevant data at any time and ensure that the organization’s project integration remains intact year after year.