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The 5 Important Principles of Integrated Project Development

Truly, nothing is new under the sun and this tenet holds true in the field of project development today as well as with most aspects of human life. To understand why this cryptic introduction has been used to introduce a post on integrated project development (IDP), let us first attempt to define what IDP—which was coined in the 20th century—actually means. Integrated project development, is a work methodology emphasising the parallelization of tasks to cut production time thereby speeding up development process. The term parallelization used here, simply means to perform multiple tasks concurrently to save time.

This is why integrated project development is also known in some circles as concurrent engineering. Although this concept has been hailed as a 20th century approach to project development, historically this isn’t true. Let’s take a look at the ancient Egyptians who built pyramids and statues of their gods and kings in recent time.

Our Egyptian forefathers divided the tasks of; building blocks from mud, creating stone art, mixing mortar and even carrying completed construction pieces among the stone masons, artisans, and slaves thereby creating specialized development teams working with one goal in mind, the completion of a project. Therefore, since the ancient world, man had already understood the concept of integrated project development and its benefit to mankind.

Today’s post isn’t a discussion on historical accuracies or inaccuracies but attempts to focus on some of the most important principles of integrated project development and how they can be employed to ease the processes attached to executing a project. Therefore, the five important principles every project manager must have at the back of their minds to eliminate confusion and petty rivalries include the following:

Having a Shared Commitment to Collaboration

The entire integrated project development process relies solely on multiple integrated project teams working concurrently to achieve diverse goals which when put together compliments one another. And it is an open secret, that where a bunch of human teams work, problems with collaboration and how committed each team is to succeed will arise.

Therefore, the first principle of integrated project development, is having a shared commitment level to ensuring that everyone delivers optimally on assigned tasks. To get such commitment, a solid working relationship must be fostered between teams and this can only be achieved if all teams collaborate on certain tasks. This helps the project manager analyse whose work compliments the other to ensure effective collaboration.

Open Lines of Communication

The success of integrated project teams working simultaneously to complete a given task also depends on their ability to communicate effectively with one another. Here communication covers everything such as discussing both failures and success on the job but more importantly, communicating the level of progress each team has achieved executing assigned tasks.

This is because, for progress to be made on the overall project, certain aspects must have to be 100% complete while others should be at the 70% range as they would go up next onto the overall project been developed. Therefore, the ability to continuously communicate on progress made ensures that the entire project runs smoothly.

Mutual Respect and Trust

In ancient Egypt, the ‘trains were made to go on time’ by the physical exertions of task masters who whipped up the slave to perform synchronized tasks according to the masters whims. Obviously, in the modern world, such a technique could not be openly discussed or integrated into a work force and this means another approach to get each integrated project team to respect the time of their colleagues must be used. And this is where mutual respect and trust comes into play.

The principle to creating such an environment starts with treating every party of the project development cycle as an important member deserving respect. If a project manager takes on this approach, then an environment of mutual respect and trust in every team’s ability to deliver on the job will be developed.

Collaborative Decision Making

Although too much differing opinions could make decision taking a cumbersome process, it is still one of the principles designed to ensure a collaborative environment is built during integrated project development jobs. There are easy ways to eliminate the cumbersome process of everyone having a voice when making decisions by simply getting each team to choose a team leader they trust to sit-in for the entire team.

The benefits of a collaborative decision making process are many, with the most important been that it gives everyone participating in the project the belief that they have a voice in determining how the project goes. It is also an avenue for developing the mutual trust, respect, open communication lines and the collaborative spirit touched upon in the preceding principles.

Incorporate Technology in the Project Development Cycle

The slave masters brandishing whips to settle old scores and get workers to be productive of ancient Egypt have been made obsolete by technological advancement which have invaded every aspect of the integrated project development process. In the modern word, you can make use of collaborative tools such as building information modelling platforms to foster a collaborative environment, productivity tools such as Slack to share tasks and keep communication line open as well as bookkeeping apps for financial transparency.

Technology plays a huge role in integrated project development by keeping the wheels spinning even faster. Therefore, they must be considered by the stakeholders involved in IDP projects.

Some notable mentions include the application of the lean production concept as it applies to your industry. This concept ensures that waste is checked and curtailed to ensure every resource is used optimally. Finally, it is important to note that the integrated project development process starts with a true understanding of the project owner or financers’ goals and this is where a capable head engineer or project manager has a role to play.

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