Project management tips for system integration

Seven tips: Practical advice about project management can help with a control system integration project. Project management for system integration differs from project management in other areas.


Control system integration project management (PM), when considered from project inception, can add significant value to an implementation. Seven sometimes overlooked tips about project management for automation and control system integration follow. 

Seven overlooked PM tips

Determine if project management be handled internally or is outside help needed. Project management for control system integration can differ widely from PM for other areas.

Decide when to involve a system integrator to help with project management.

Use project methodologies to help mitigate risk.

Decide if the project needs a process redesign or if applying automation to the current process will be enough to meet goals.

Recognize that project management can influence technology selection.

Understand that some projects may be beyond reasonable help and should end.

Determine what measures will be used for success during project planning. Return on investment may not be the highest measure of project success. 

Project planning, estimates

Planning ahead is incredibly important for an automation project, according to Don Roberts, an auditor for the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA) and a consultant and principal of Exotek LLC, a management-consulting firm focused on the engineering and systems integration industry. Roberts said, "Spend the time and the money on a good functional specification. It is much cheaper to do this than to change things later in the project."

Dennis Brandl, founder and chief consultant at BR&L Consulting Inc., specializes in helping companies use Manufacturing IT to improve production, laboratory, and logistics processes. Brandl said for projects involving software, the best project management is done using an agile or DevOps [development operations management] method, because it is easier to estimate value versus effort and to decide when it is time to finish the project and know exactly what is complete and what is not complete. It also helps to accurately measure functions achieved (value) versus time spent (budget and schedule), Brandl said.

Roberts added, "The CSIA produces an excellent resource for anyone involved in system integration projects. The CSIA Best Practices information is available for members only but is well worth the price of membership." See related system integration research in this issue.

Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


Key concepts

  • Project management (PM) for control system integration can differ from other projects.
  • PM can overlook if or when system integration help is needed.
  • Planning and estimates should be considered with PM.

Consider this

How much time and aggravation might you save with better project management?

ONLINE extra

Link to five project management articles for system integration below.

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