This paper was originally published as The Strategy of Running Temporary Projects, Innovation, 1971. Although published over thirty years ago, we believe that its perceptive insights are just as valid today.

Thanks to Bob Youker, World Bank (Retired), for bringing this paper to our attention. The paper has since been edited for web presentation, Editor

Copyright: Lawrence Bennigson, MA, 02108. Email: lbennigson@hbs.ed.
Published here August 2004.

PART 1 | Introduction | Project Integration
The Need for Visibility | Personal and Professional Security
Tradeoffs are the Hallmark of the Strategic Approach
Success Criteria for Our Air Pollution Abatement Program 
Selection of Key Management Positions | In Summary ...

Project Integration

A third criterion for project success, integration, means achieving coordination and collaboration among different work groups, responsibility centers, and entire organizations. The coordination needs of a one-time task may create unique interdependencies between various parts of the organization, or even several different companies and agencies, that have never before worked closely together. Project related coordination requirements are often quite complex. Management must understand where these needs are, what kind of coordination is required, how best to achieve that coordination, and how these needs may change over time.

Consider, as an example, a small research laboratory, physically separated from its parent company that undertook a missile-system project for a federal agency. This laboratory had to coordinate work groups within the laboratory itself; among the laboratory, the contracting agency, and the parent company; between the laboratory and the community in which the work is being conducted; and between the laboratory and other subcontractors developing different components of the missile system.

Virtually every CPMS design decision affects, in some way, the ability of different groups to achieve coordination and collaboration. In the case of the research lab, management decided that establishing a close working relationship with the customer was particularly important early in the project. The entire laboratory was organized into work groups that interfaced directly with the component managers in the customer organization. Coordination between work groups was achieved through design review meetings, and the management information system. In some cases specially qualified individuals, including the project manager, were given prime responsibility for coordinating two or more work groups.

An interesting feature of project integration needs is that they may vary significantly at different times in the project's life cycle. The systems development project discussed above passed through phases of conceptual development, design, prototype, and test. As the nature of the task changed, so did the roles of the work groups, customer groups, and subcontractors. One tactic laboratory management used to cope with the changing integration needs, late in the project's life cycle, was to change the organizational design of the laboratory to emphasize functional specialization of engineers and scientists rather than the components of the end product. This change was made because management decided that internal technical coordination was now of greater importance than before, while building relationships with the customer was no longer a high-priority need.


Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page