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Interface Management is the process of, unsurprisingly, managing interfaces! When multiple teams, or companies, work on a common project, questions will arise where one team needs an answer or information from another team. The process of managing these questions is Interface Management. Some of these questions may convey confidential information, contain outdated information, or go unanswered. An interface management process ensures that all inquiries are addressed, authorized and ultimately closed out.

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One of the first steps to managing interfaces is defining an Interface Management Procedure (or Interface Management Process). This should be a controlled document that is part of the overall Project Execution Plan. The IMP should be signed off by the client and overall PM, and require that qualifying requests must follow the process. The IMP should define:

  • Outline the process for successfully coordinating and managing all key interfaces.
  • Define the responsibilities for each of the teams involved with the interface requests such that the individuals are accountable to follow up the required actions.
  • Define how key interfaces are identified, logged into an interface register and tracked until completion.
  • Logging all all key interfaces into an accessible register, and actively keep the interface register up to date.
  • Define the workflow that interface requests will follow throughout their life cycle.
  • Establish the process to monitor the status of the interface requests contained within the register, and actively make certain that all requests are closed-out in a timely manner.
  • Implement the system by which the parties coordinate their interface activities.
  • Facilitate communications between parties, including conflict resolution.
  • Promote clear and consistent communication among the involved project team members for transmitting interface information.

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Interface Management Software Solutions

Managing interfaces for a large project can quickly become overwhelming with each new subcontractor added to the project. Unmanaged interfaces will exist in the form of emails and phone calls. These are unauditable and difficult to ensure validity and closure. The most basic form of interface management software would be a controlled register in the form of an spreadsheet. This is a good first step since you can now maintain due dates, responsible parties, and statuses. However, a spreadsheet interface register can suffer from some common problems when the project scope increases. Common problems include:

  • Allowing multiple users to raise and respond to their requests within the register does not work well. Generating new corporate credentials to have access to a shared file may be involved. Simultaneous editing is out of the question. Checking in/out the shared register is not time effective.
  • Spreadsheets usually will show you the a single snapshot of information. Cells are constantly overridden, eliminating historical data.
  • Spreadsheets do not notify users of new requests, updates, or overdue items. Keeping everyone up to date is a manual process.

Using a dedicated interface management system can solve all of these problems, in addition to adding a large number of benefits that greatly simplify managing interfaces.

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You can find resources that will help you research the processes and benefits of Interface Management here.

Understanding and defining the roles and responsibilities of project team members is a critical step in properly managing interfaces. The role of each person affects how information flows amongst different individuals, and whether they are an active or passive participant in closing out interface requests.

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