Nov 11 2008

Integrate Management to Manage Integration

Today’s IT solutions must be based on flexible, integrated architectures in order to accommodate inevitable change and remain useful. The same is true of management techniques: Stovepipes are not only inefficient, but also undermine information sharing and decision-making.

Integration management is critical for coordinating program, architecture and outcome management activities. This helps organizations plan, execute, track, adjust, and control solution implementation and transition activities. Coordinating the many disciplines required to successfully execute a program helps ensure that long-term objectives aren’t lost in the maelstrom of near-term decision-making.

As such, integration management coordinates three management disciplines:

  1. Program management includes activities such as planning and managing scope, performance and earned value; identifying and managing risks; tracking budgets, schedules and milestones; establishing and monitoring adherence to quality standards; and coordinating change through communications.
  2. Architecture management involves documenting current state business processes, information, interfaces, systems, technology and performance results; defining a target state architecture; and identifying the projects required to close gaps between the current and target states.
  3. Outcome management involves activities that allow managers not only to measure program success, but also to make certain that program successes (and corresponding investments) support larger organizational objectives. This includes activities such as output and outcomes planning, performance measurement and management, business case preparation and justification, and performance analysis and oversight.

Integration management fosters a clear understanding of the relationships among these disciplines. Moreover, integration management transition, project planning and control activities help managers make sure that:

  • Projects are coordinated: Projects that constitute a larger program are treated as parts of an integrated strategy and not as independent investments.
  • Trade-offs are balanced: Project solution alternatives are considered within the context of larger program objectives and not just in terms of an individual project’s near-term needs.
  • Architectures drive investment: Architecture efforts are more than just compliance exercises; architectures are the basis of target state planning activities and investment decisions.
  • Change is addressed: Target state plans are reviewed regularly, adjusted and kept in tune with current organizational priorities, available resources and program accomplishments.

Governments can use integration management techniques to define a target state vision at both the program and project level. The program-level vision identifies and defines the multiple high-level project solutions that constitute the target state. The program vision defines high-level solution boundaries that allow managers to properly sequence the delivery of cohesive solution capabilities.

Project-level visions require managers to rationalize projects against program improvement objectives and priorities; to assess programwide impacts and risks resulting from project-level decisions; and to develop business cases, acquisition documents and technical documents for each project defined within the program-level vision.

By using integration management techniques, organizations can check that desired project outcomes are supported by target state project plans. Moreover, managers can be sure that project-level achievements are incorporated within program-level vision updates. This, in turn, helps to ensure that future projects are planned and executed in accordance with the latest vision for the program.

Today many organizations already have in place some form of architecture, program and outcome management. However, many lack a way to coordinate these activities and to adjust the plans developed through these activities in accordance with changing organizational priorities. The challenge is to maintain a vision over time and to communicate and coordinate changes with implementation teams.

Integration management answers this challenge by developing program- and project-level visions through coordination of program, architecture and outcome management disciplines.