Project Management Information System

Table of Contents:-

  • Meaning of Project Management Information System
  • Objectives of Project Management Information System
  • Features of Project Management Information System
  • Purpose of Project Management Information System

Meaning of Project Management Information System

The Project Management Information System (PMIS) is an information system that consists of tools and techniques used to collect, integrate, store and retrieve (to disseminate) the outputs of project management processes. The PMIS is also used to control changes to the documents. It is an integrated system with mostly automated tools (and possibly some manual tools) and is used throughout the project, from initiating to closing.

With the growing importance of computers in management and the explosion of computer-based PMISs, it is important that project managers understand the kinds of computer-based PMI software and hardware systems available, and appreciate the issues in selecting and executing these systems.

The success or failure of projects very much depends upon the ability of the project director, project manager and other key personnel to make decisions. Right decisions can be made only if the decision-makers are provided with all the relevant information. This can be made possible only by devising an effective, efficient, fool-proof and intelligent project information system.

A well-designed Project Information System (or Project Management Information system) is an integrated system that will meet the information requirements of the project managers, the functional managers, the top management, the consumers and other external agencies concerned. Another characteristic of a good Project Information System is that it must be adaptable to many different projects. In bigger and more complex organizations, where there may be many projects going on at the same time, the Project Information System should have sufficient flexibility so that it can be easily modified to suit the requirements of the different project managers.

Objectives of Project Management Information System

The objectives of project management information system encompass the following points:

1. Highlight any deviations from the project plan for each component, indicating the effects of these deviations on the overall status and completion of the project.

2. Record and report relevant information and the status of various project components in a manner that highlights the most critical activities. This presentation should directly capture the attention of concerned managers at the appropriate level.

3. Identify and report critical areas relevant to different levels of management, emphasizing the corrective actions required.

4. Serve as the foundation for updating the project schedule as needed.

5. Provide a basis for evaluating the performance of various managers and departments through regular comparisons with budgets, plans, and schedules. Mere physical progress reporting and monitoring must be sufficient to ensure the project’s timely completion at the minimum cost. In addition to monitoring the physical status, the system should track the value of work done and the cost implications of delays in project commissioning. To achieve this, the physical progress of each activity needs to be converted into monetary terms, utilizing unit rates established by apportioning the cost of overall activities.

6. Present information and report exceptions, focusing on activities not aligning with the plan.

In the design of the project management information system, the following aspects must be clearly defined:

1. The distribution chart detailing how reports will be disseminated.

2. The objective of each format or report is succinctly outlined.

3. The persons responsible for the preparation of the reports.

4. The periodicity of the reports, specifying how often they will be generated.

5. The sources from which information will be gathered to prepare reports.

6. The timing of the reports, indicating when they will be submitted.

Features of Project Management Information System

The following are the features of Project Management Information System :

1) Resource Management

Most project systems also perform resource loading, levelling, allocation or multiple functions, although the analytical sophistication and quality of reports vary between systems. The major considerations are the maximum number of resources permitted per activity or project, the kind of resource loading/scheduling techniques used (resource-limited, time-limited or both), split scheduling (stopping activities and then starting later), interchangeable usage of different resources, and using resources which are consumed.

2) Scheduling and Network Planning

Virtually all project software systems do project scheduling using a network-based procedure. These systems compute early and late slack times, schedule times, and the critical path. Among the capabilities, a user must assess all the types of procedure (PERT, CPM, PDM or multiple types), event or activity-oriented outputs (or multiple types) and use of probabilities. Capabilities also vary about the maximum number of allowable activities, the way activities and events are coded (some use a WBS scheme), the quality and clarity of the output format (e.g., network, Gantt chart, tabular reports or multiple types) and whether only single or simultaneous multiple projects can be planned and tracked.

3) Cost Control and Performance Analysis

Here is where project system capabilities vary the most. To perform the control function, a system must be capable of comparing actual performance (including actual costs and work completed) with planned and budgeted performance. Among the features to consider are the system’s ability to compute and report cost and schedule variances, earned values (BCWP), various performance indices, and forecasts by extrapolating past performance. The most sophisticated PMIS software “roll-up” results and allows aggregation, analysis, and reporting at all levels of the WBS. They also permit modifying and updating existing plans by inputting actual start and finish dates and costs.

The wide PMISs integrate network, budget and resource information and allow the project manager to ask “what if” questions under different scenarios while the project is underway. They allow the system user to access, cross-reference and report information from multiple sites or databases linked via the internet or an intranet.

4) Budgeting

In many project systems, it is possible to associate cost information with each activity, usually by treating costs as resources. However, software systems vary greatly in how they handle fixed, variable and overhead costs and in their ability to generate budget and cost summary reports. In many systems, cost and expense information are not treated explicitly; cost accounting is a significant feature in others. The ability of a system to handle cost information and generate budgets is an essential variable in the system’s usability for both planning and control.

5) Interface, Flexibility and Ease of Use

Some systems are compatible with and can tie into existing databases such as payroll, purchasing, inventory, MRP, ERP, cost-accounting or other PMISs. Some can be used with popular spreadsheet systems and DBMS. They can also provide input data for systems that do modelling and risk analysis.

Many larger PMISs allow data from different projects to be pooled so multi-project analysis can be performed. Some software allows the user to “click” on a particular project to view more detailed, project-specific information. Managers can readily distinguish the work functions or projects performing as expected from those experiencing problems or overruns.

6) Reporting, Graphics and Communication

Project software systems also vary greatly in the number, kind and quality of reports they produce. This is an essential consideration because it affects the speed with which PMIS outputs are communicated and the accuracy of their interpretation. With the trend toward decentralized teams and multi-site projects, more projects now have team members that are graphically dispersed, which poses a problem for project tracking and control. The software enables team members to communicate via e-mail and retain e-mail information on a project database.

Purpose of Project Management Information System

An effective PMIS is capable of serving the following purposes:

1) Knowledge Management: The PMIS must support knowledge management, such as a knowledge base to store and retrieve lessons learned and other historical information.

2) Program-Wise Information: PMIS must be capable of collecting information and status across the constituent projects, integrating it and reporting it to the program stakeholders.

3) Communication: It must have communication tools to support the communication needs of the program.

4) Support for Intellectual Property: As a program manager, one must be able to identify the intellectual property as the program progresses. The PMIS system must be able to support the development of intellectual property and protect it.

5) Measurement and Analysis Tools: PMIS must support measurements and analysis. For example, it should support the metrics systems that are going to be used for the program and it should also support analysis such as statistical analysis such as statistical analysis by offering statistical analysis techniques.

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