Projects contain an abundance of information, documents, and data. Every project manager has the same challenge of finding the right tools and techniques to deal with all of this knowledge.
Without the right software to organize all the project information, projects can go off track — so having a PMIS (or project management information system) comes in handy.
What is a PMIS?
A PMIS is a software program or application that organizes and controls the flow of project data and information.
Project managers use a PMIS to plan, monitor, and execute their project deliverables more efficiently, without getting overwhelmed with data.
Though project management information systems may vary in scope or complexity, they share common features, such as work management, information collection, and task scheduling.
How does PMIS in project management work?
Before reviewing the features of the PMIS, let's take a closer look at how a PMIS works in project management.
Your PMIS functions differently based on the project phase. It aligns with the project manager's needs and helps complete the specific project phase requirements.
Project initiation phase
In the initiation phase of the project, a PMIS can be helpful in:
- Establishing a preliminary project budget including cost and resource estimates
- Outlining the project scope and preparing bids
- Scheduling the project tasks and assigning them to the relevant team members
- Organizing project information and generating necessary reports for presenting to the key project stakeholders
Project planning phase
Are you planning your project? A PMIS can be your best friend, assisting with:
- In-depth project scheduling, including critical path analysis and related tasks
- Supporting cost and budget management, including setting up of cost controls, budget analysis, and related KPI metrics
- Executing resource planning for the entire project, identifying available resources, and making a contingency plan for those that may be needed later
- Establishing baseline metrics for project schedule, cost, and scope
Project execution stage
A PMIS can be indispensable for executing projects. Since every project has multiple stakeholders within and outside the organization, tracking their conversations and responses can be challenging. The PMIS:
- Stores all project team communications, recommendations, files, and documents in one unified hub that can be securely and easily accessed by all stakeholders
- Enables easy comparison of actual project data with the baseline estimates from the project planning phase
- Allows project managers to revise cost, budget or schedule forecasts midway into the project and make adjustments based on actual project needs
- Supports the efficient completion of multiple project modules, such as material management, cost management, project performance measurement, and project reporting
Project review and closure stage
Arguably, the project review and closure is the most important phase in a project. Each project has a specific predetermined objective or goal, and in the project review and closure stage, those goals and objectives are met. The PMIS:
- Allows a thorough appraisal to ensure that the defined project goals are met or exceeded
- Organizes and stores all project information in a centralized hub for easy access and review at a later stage
- Archives all project information as historical data for use in upcoming projects
- Helps produce the final project reports and productivity analysis metrics for stakeholder decision making
Advantages of project management information system
Having a project management information system can give you a leg up while managing a project.
As you zip through successive project stages, you need a project management information system that evolves and suits your needs for each phase.
You may be sending a client quote, working on a shared file, or planning team tasks — wouldn't it be great if your PMIS could do all that for you? Here are some of the advantages of implementing a project management information system.
Keeps the project on track
By tracking costs, budgets, and work schedules, your PMIS can help you avoid costly project slippages. Instant notifications and work tracking keep the project on its scheduled timeline.
The PMIS also acts as a discrepancy tracker. Most project management information systems track project progress and send you text or email notifications immediately if anything does not go to plan.
With quick updates from the PMIS, the team can instantly make any required adjustments, reassign resources, and implement new processes.
Once the corrective actions are underway, teams can monitor them to confirm their efficacy. The PMIS’ rapid tracking system acts as an effective competitive edge for companies, helping them manage projects within the budget and scheduled timeline.
Fosters better collaboration and teamwork
Imagine one team member is still using Version 1 of a document when Version 2 has already been circulated to the entire team.
Think of all the hours, energy, and effort that are being wasted. Apart from adversely affecting individual productivity, the project would lose a day or two due to the team veering off course.
Plug this leakage by having a PMIS that lets you control, share, and update documentation in real time with your team members.
Whenever a new document, version, or revision is released, the PMIS notifies the team about the updated version.
Gives a competitive advantage
Data is at the core of any project management information system. Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to gain new customers, leading to the likelihood of achieving above-average profitability being 19 times higher than the companies that don’t make data-driven decisions.
A PMIS is a significant contributor to project management success, boosting the capabilities of organizations against their counterparts.
Enables higher-quality decision making
Making a decision ultimately boils down to having the correct information. With a PMIS solution, teams have access to real-time data to get the ball rolling.
From detailed project processes to product testing results to the hours worked by the team, key decision-makers have access to everything they may need.
Having a holistic overview of the project and its granular data can assist in making decisions that would be beneficial for the team. Apart from giving your project a strong competitive advantage, it can improve organizational performance and help achieve project goals.
Manage diverse projects at the same time
In many companies, there are often multiple projects going on at the same time. Managing them can be a challenge if you don’t have the right tools.
In multi-project management, a PMIS would allow the key stakeholders clear visibility into each project, its work schedule, and resource management.
Whether a project is ongoing, completed, or in the planning stages, project management information systems can help manage multiple projects simultaneously.
Challenges of implementing a project management information system
Like implementing any change in your organization, introducing a project management information system comes with its own set of challenges. These are mostly related to resistance to change by your teammates, so it's important to remember to approach the implementation process with an open mind, ready to listen to any criticisms or questions from your team.
Lack of coordination
Proper communication and coordination between teams when introducing a PMIS is crucial for its success. But with teams dispersed globally, and many working on a number of different projects at once, critical information can often fall through the cracks, and priorities can begin to shift from team to team.
Poor coordination can often result in wasted resources, as teams' schedules are mismatched and the deadline for implementation becomes compromised. Project managers need to be prepared for this with regular check-ins with their counterparts on other teams, and effective back-up plans in place for issues that may arise during implementation.
Lack of interest from teams
Any major change at your organization requires buy-in from teams, but many prefer to move along with the status quo. Poor communication and delegation, poor company culture, and a lack of training and employee resources can all contribute to low morale and a lack of motivation within your team. When this occurs, it can be harder than ever to try and introduce a PMIS.
No required skillsets
Introducing a PMIS requires a number of skilled people to aid in its successful implementation. If your team is inexperienced with change management, or if your project specifically deals with more technical information and resources, this can spell trouble for your PMIS. Ensure that the right people with appropriate skills are in place before you begin the PMIS induction process.
What are the features of project management information systems?
At its core, every PMIS is built to assist in successful project management. To do this, a PMIS typically monitors information, collects data, and stores it for use in multiple areas such as:
- Project scope
- Team communications
- Integrations and applications
- Project cost management
- Project risk management
- Project quality management
- Stakeholder engagement
- Project supplier and vendor management
That's a lot of sub-modules for teams to manage within the bigger picture of a project. Employing a PMIS cuts through the clutter to reduce risk, lower costs, and improve project efficiency.
Before zeroing in on a PMIS, take a closer look to confirm that it has some key functionalities, such as:
- Project planning and scheduling: Scheduling tools communicate the project schedule to all the key stakeholders and establish the project control baselines and critical path.
- Estimating: Project estimation tools within a PMIS assign prices to specific project tasks that are summed up to calculate an overall project estimate or cost.
- Resource management: Small or big, every task requires resources to ensure completion. Track resource availability and manage it effectively using a PMIS.
- Project data management: Documentation is an essential part of every project. Whether you’re creating a one-off document or an extensive project library, teams need a robust, secure, and accessible PMIS to manage project documentation.
- Project control: Project teams spend a reasonable amount of time creating project plans. All activities they undertake to measure project progress against the planned goals come under project control. Deploying a PMIS helps to manage both the project budget and the project schedule.
- Reporting and communication: Any PMIS tool should have the flexibility to create multiple styles of reports, including on-demand or custom reports required for stakeholder decision-making.
- Integration and ease of use: PMIS can also differ based on the tools they integrate with and how easy they are to use. It’s easier (and cheaper) to train staff to use a PMIS with a simple and intuitive user interface.
Examples of PMIS
A typical PMIS has two key functions:
- A method for gathering and organizing information
- A software application that performs the process steps
Any system with these two elements can be considered a PMIS. Here are some examples of PMIS:
- A document filing system that uses Microsoft Excel to collect and organize information
- A full-suite project management information system that has multiple tools with custom workflows and processes
Using Wrike as your PMIS
Provide your team with the robust decision-making support they need to plan, organize, and monitor their projects successfully.
Avoid project data overload by using a project management information system like Wrike to make faster decisions. Organize project documentation, facilitate real-time communication, and create a single, accessible hub for all project-related information.
Avoid resource wastage, boost team efficiency, and optimize your project budgets by using visual tools such as Gantt charts and Kanban boards included in the project management software. Start a free two-week trial of Wrike today and see your PMIS in action!