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An integrated master plan is an overarching system that covers all the steps used within a project as well as the reasoning and assessments of each step. These plans are a top-level document, meaning that they have information relating to every part of a project from start to finish. Project leaders and corporate managers typically use these documents, while individual departments will receive documents that apply only to them. The integrated master plan is used to make an integrated master schedule. The schedule will outline the time frames for the goals and assessments laid out in the plan.
The term integrated master plan was originally used almost exclusively by the military and military contractors. Private sector companies have adopted much of the terminology associated with these plans. This conversion has culminated in prominent project management software systems using integrated master plans and integrated master schedules as the name of those top-level documents.
In most cases, an integrated master plan is set up in outline or contract form starting with the initial project steps and culminates with assessments that follow completion. In general, each section of the plan is made up of three parts. These parts become more and more specific, each one building on and expanding the sections that came before.
The first section of the step details the part in broad strokes; it is typically the name and a brief summary of the purpose of that portion of the project. The second section usually outlines what actually needs to happen in that stage of the project. This often comes in a form similar to the main heading, but is much more detailed and related to the specific step. The last section is made up of steps required to go from the beginning to the end of the job outlined in section two. This section outlines the actual activities that people and departments need to perform in order to successfully manage the step.
Using the integrated master plan as a guide, it is possible to create an integrated master schedule. The plan details the how and why of a project and the schedule details the when and where. It is only when both of these documents are finished that the project can begin. As the project continues, the two documents act like a guide for the processes. By comparing current work progress against the documents, it is possible to see the project’s overall development, even when portions are worked on simultaneously by different groups.