Improve Project Success with a Better Project Management Information System

What is the role of the PMIS in project management?

Gone are the days of spending an entire day looking at hard copy files pulled from numerous drawers of project team members. The new norm is the digitization and visualization of project data to support informed decisions by the project team. In today’s environment, a state-of-the-art project management information system (PMIS) is a must-have for efficient project management. An effective PMIS ensures project communication and improves execution and outcome, no matter the project size.
PMIS is key to a project’s success because:

  • Bridges the information gap among stakeholders
  • Promotes team coordination by taking data from multiple sources and centralizing it
  • Data is immediately accessible and redundant data entry is eliminated
  • Contracts, project history, and associated documents are linked in one location
  • Management can clearly see areas in need of improvement and quickly take action before problems escalate
  • Project managers can view change orders all in one place and better forecast project completion
  • Enables complete transparency and demands accountability of all parties
  • Entire program or projects history is preserved and documented
  • Data does not leave with any one member of the project team, but stays with the owner

How do you pick the right PMIS?

Start by meeting with the owner and actively listen to their statement of needs. The right PMIS should identify an organization’s processes and streamline them. The owner is compelled to think about current processes and learn the most efficient way to perform the work. You will also need to evaluate the current system, discuss pros and cons, and perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Software selection should be made after gathering and reviewing necessary documentation. When choosing a system, it is important to acknowledge the diverse needs of different teams. For example, one system might offer a robust finance/planning tool; another enhanced design capability; a third may be optimal in the field with all functions available on phone or tablet.

According to PMA Managing Director, Dina Keirouz:

“Most new generation tools have been developed to be configured and customized to the client’s needs. It’s always a push and pull between flexibility vs. budget. One thing to remember is that you get what you pay for. During the initial phase of assessment and planning, the right questions must be asked, answers assessed, and statement of facts questioned again. This must be a tool-agnostic process otherwise, the client’s interest is lost to the better marketer or seller. Understanding the initial business need is a first step but crafting a comprehensive roadmap for extensibility and expandability of the tool is important to set the foundation for success.”

How do you ensure a successful PMIS?

Stakeholders may believe they are building a mechanical tool that obeys directives, but behavioral change is at the heart of the issue. Rarely are engagement and consensus achieved during the initial phase. Psychology and sociology are important concepts that weigh into the successful implementation of a PMIS. The success of the tool is judged by user adoption and utilization. Behavioral change and change management are key factors in the success of a PMIS, but these considerations are often overlooked when the PMIS budget is constrained to implement only the necessities.

“A PMIS implementation is not about how to get data into the system, it’s about getting data out. Our mission in implementing a PMIS is to turn data into information, information into knowledge, knowledge into wisdom. The ultimate goal is to help our clients make wise decisions.”

– Bruce Stephan, Executive Director

After choosing the system, configure the system in accordance with the information gathered, audit the data, and remove any redundancies before the data transfer. After creating a high-level system design, a system design document and client sign off follow. Finally, test the system on an actual project, implement necessary changes, and provide documentation and training before organization-wide rollout.

About PMA’s PMIS Expertise

PMA has been assisting clients with establishing PMIS solutions for more than 30 years. PMA is not a tool vendor but a project and construction management firm with project controls as its core business. We bring hands‐on field experience of program controls and project management, coupled with numerous assessments of processes and functional needs in the many organizations we service. This experience provides us the ability to provide a PMIS solution that will strategically address our clients’ current, immediate, and anticipated long‐term needs.

PMA is also adept at addressing the creation of a change-agile organization. PMA has developed a hybrid approach to change management planning which utilizes primarily the process and materials developed by Prosci but also integrates guidance from the Association of Change Management Professionals. Through our well-documented and tested approach, we enhance our clients’ capacity to manage change successfully, and we mentor leadership in expanding the organizational capacity for agile change.