Project Management Must haves 01: Integrations

The concept of project management is a fairly broad one that conceals a number of important areas worth calling out. In this mini-series of articles, we will highlight some of the most crucial aspects of project management that sometimes slip between the cracks or get engulfed by the larger concept of project management. It’s important to give these concepts their own time in the spotlight as being familiar with them will improve your project management skills and awareness. First up, let’s delve into integrations management. What are integrations? In terms of a project, an integration is the  connecting and combining of your project with another system. The system can be a larger product within the organization, or it can be completely separate and managed by a third party. The main concern is how to get your project into that ecosystem and keep it running smoothly.

Integrations – The short version

Projects, by nature, are temporary endeavours with a defined start and end, and a specific set of goals to achieve. Oftentimes, the project will result in a new or redesigned piece of a larger system. In order for the system or product to reap the benefits of the project, they will need to be integrated together. This is the true power of breaking work out into projects: by having a dedicated team focused on a project to build this piece, you break out the work into a manageable chunk. It’s crucial that this project’s output will be able to connect with other systems, otherwise it calls into question the benefits of doing the project in the first place. Ultimately, the project is part of a greater product, and this should be reflected in all phases of the project’s lifecycle.

Integrations – The long version

It’s natural to think that integration is only a concern at the end of a project. How can you work out how to integrate your project into another system when the project is not yet complete? And how about when the system you’re integrating with is also incomplete? However, the key to managing a project is to think about integration early and include it in your planning. If you know that your project is to create a side service or component for another system or two, you need to work that truth into your designs and scope. By doing this work upfront, you save yourself the trouble of having to redesign and redo work later down the line. Some projects are free-standing and are completely contained within themselves. In those cases, you don’t need to consider integration when planning the project and defining its scope. There will also be cases where it might be possible in a later version that the project will be integrated into another system in the future, in which case extensible design should be considered to take this into account. You don’t want to be cursing your past decisions purely because the project assumed there would be no extensions or integrations in the future.

What now?

So how do you capture integration management in your project management software? By using OneDesk, you can conceptually capture integrations in your project and create tasks for them. Since integrations will be part of your project’s plans, you will be able to create a process or workflow focused around monitoring these integrations and viewing their statuses. Integrations are a normal aspect of any project, and the work to get them in is like any other project work. As such they can be easily managed in OneDesk. The key is to give integration management the focus and thought it needs so it doesn’t get lost in the details.

Photo Credit: ‘Traffic Trails’ / Barry Davis / CC BY

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