5 Integration, Project, Program, and Portfolio Types

5 Integration, Project, Program, and Portfolio Types

Planning, managing, and executing projects can be very complex. This complexity increases as these projects become larger and more diverse. In an effort to simplify project management and help define a common vocabulary—especially regarding the many types of work that go into a project—there have been many project types introduced over time. With varying degrees of success, each has had its own take on defining different types of projects.

It is important to note that not all projects are created equal. Defining the project type is the first step to understanding the specific processes that are applicable and important across all five project types. Each of the following definitions not only describes what the team is building or improving, but also has implications for communication, managing change and risk, establishing performance measures, and many more factors.

Every project is different, but there are five main types that could be very useful. They are: Widget or Service Development; Fix and Diagnose; IT or Systems Project; Uncharted Territory; and Mission Critical Systems. These could apply to what one might currently have in place, but more importantly, apply to where some of the missed opportunities might be placed in one’s existing business.  

  1. Widget or Service Development 

Widget or service development is a project with set objectives, deadlines, and budget for a small-scale IT project. It is a special case of product development where the main driver for initiating the project is marketing reasons.

A widget project is one where the goal is to create a product that meets a customer’s needs. It may be an internal tool for your organization, or it may be an external product sale. In either case, the focus of this project type is on functionality and schedule. It could also include a project to develop an internal application, system, and/or application service. An example of this could be developing a new internet portal or component of an existing portal.

  1. Fix and Diagnose

The Fix and Diagnose approach is basically fixing and diagnosing the problems the right way; fixing an existing process; and/or diagnosing areas where there might be lapses. It is considered a short-term project where the goal is to understand what went wrong and how something can be fixed.

Fix and diagnose happens when you are solving complex issues within your systems.

  1. IT or Systems Project

This now involves the process of how to incorporate IT systems and projects into the integrator role. An IT project encompasses more than one business process such as security management or applications management. IT or systems projects are more complex than other projects, involving multiple teams and usually creating advancements in technology.

  1. Uncharted Territory

Uncharted territory maybe a project with little or no precedents and will require the creation of innovative solutions for the client’s needs. It is used to describe projects that have never been undertaken before, pushing boundaries, and leading to new discoveries.

It is like having no idea of how it is going to be done or if it is feasible to be done, but still making it happen anyway. There is no blueprint for this and there is no baseline or benchmark for it. Another example of this could be when you have something that is a great idea that you want to implement, and you are not sure how to do it. It could also mean about something that you have acquired and you realize that there is some specific physical product or service that would be perfect to align with that particular acquisition.

  1. Mission- Critical System

When organizations need to do something that has never been done before, such as building a new application or migrating their entire operations into a new technology platform within a very tight time frame, these are considered mission-critical systems.

An internal system that has mission-critical importance meets one or more of the following criteria: failure; misoperation; degradation, which could adversely impact individuals’ health or safety; and the interruption of services critical in the business.

For instance, a business is going to shut down if you don’t get things worked out. That means, if you know you have an increase in the number of customers, your systems might break down. Then, if you don’t get this particular new regulation implemented, you’re going to get a $200,000 fine from the government. Your project may be considered a “mission-critical” which means that it must be done right the first time, with no errors or delays. Depending on your industry and how critical your business’s outcome is, you will want to take into consideration what kind of integration project you are working on.

Project Management: The Relevance

In a small organization, there is usually only one project manager. In larger organizations, there will be a number of different project managers working on different projects. This means that each person needs to take care of his/her own time management, as well as use some type of project management software.

In the context of project management, systems development is the process by which an organization or individual creates a product that involves human interaction. Projects can be thought of as work that seeks to deliver new capabilities to an organization. These capabilities are often developed in an agile manner, through sprints and deliveries. Projects may take a variety of shapes and forms (i.e.Widget Development, Fix & Diagnose, etc.) and require different skillsets to manage effectively.

Project types are the most common way of classifying projects. They represent the different ways that projects can be managed and typically distinguish between projects that are innovative and have never been done before (mission-critical systems), repeatable and planned for in advance (IT or systems), or fall somewhere between these two extremes (everything else). Project types cover a wide range of assignments and projects. Some projects require an up-front design phase, while others are charged to “get it done now”. Both scenarios can be handled with project management services.

An essential question could then be asked: What type of project is it? Is it an IT or systems project? Is it a fix and diagnose type of job? Is it a mission-critical system that requires high reliability and security? Each of these job descriptions will require a different set of skills, knowledge, area, and industry.


Taking any project and breaking it down into those five categories will allow one to determine the best method of procurement, risk management, and due diligence before seeking approval from the senior management. The projects and programs designed to resolve critical business issues while reducing the level of risk through the development of innovative solutions could be a fair consideration. Each of these types has very distinct characteristics, so it is important to understand the type of project first before you can properly estimate the effort required as these different types tend to apply to different industries as well.

Consequently, one of the most important aspects of any project is defining its purpose. Do you need to create a software application, or fix a computer problem? Are you developing a brand new system, or looking to automate an existing one? Identifying your project will allow you to better organise your tasks and keep on track.

The five integration types above are categorized based on the processes, tools, risks, and costs involved. Every project is different and needs a custom-tailored approach. Whether you are looking to develop a new product, upgrade your current technology profile, or just enhance what you already have, it is best to develop a plan that best fits your needs and budget.

What is Integration?

The word “integration” could have various definitions. When one is asked about what integration is, one could eventually think of “integration” that is related to math or calculus learned at school. Depending on the appropriateness and application, the definition of integration could be random.

Integration is the process of combining two or more entities that were previously not connected or associated with each other. An integration project is often motivated by a desire to improve efficiency, reduce redundancies, and enhance competitiveness. The most common form of integration is business process integration (BPI), which refers to the alignment and coordination of business processes across organizational boundaries in order to achieve strategic goals such as maximizing operational efficiency, improving quality, or reducing costs.

Integration could also mean the act of combining individual components into a single entity, or when developing an application, to create a seamless user experience. Typically, it is the business side that deals with systems integration work. However, as agile development methodologies are applied more widely in organizations today, software development teams themselves need to integrate their own built products.

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