INTRODUCTION TO INFORMATION SYSTEMS

A Project Management Information System is a set of interrelated components working together to collect, classify, store, and distribute information to support decision-making.  It is more about designing the appropriate methods and processes and implementing a sound plan to manage the information cycle.

A Project Management Information System is an integrated set of mutually supporting tools, processes, and methods for managing project information applied in a consistent way to support the decision-making and information needs of project stakeholders. Project managers use the techniques, processes, and tools to collect, organize, analyze, and share information through electronic and manual means.

A PIMS is also beneficial during the different project-management phases. During the planning phase, a project manager uses a PMIS to organize the project work, define the scope baseline, estimate the budget, and create a schedule. During the implementation phase, the project team collects progress information that is used to compare with the baseline and evaluates the accomplishment of each activity. It is also used to manage deliverables, collect financial data, and keep a record for reporting purposes. During the monitoring phase of the project, the PMIS is used to review the goals to check if the outcomes were accomplished or not. The goal of a good PIMS is to make the right information available to the right people at the right time.

With the right PMIS, project managers will be able to improve the processes through which they define, locate, collect, store, analyze, share, and use project information.

The quality of a PMIS is measured by how the project manager uses the information to guide and improve his or her actions. The management of project information is a critical element and a key responsibility of the project manager, as it informs, educates, guides, and builds support for the project. Providing key project stakeholders with the right information at the right time can significantly improve decisions to adjust, change and guide the project to improve its outcomes.

Characteristics of PMIS

Establishing smart goals and objectives and selecting indicators for measuring progress are the elements that form the basis of a sound project management information system. An important step in developing the system is the creation of an information-management plan that outlines how information will be selected, collected, analyzed, and shared during the lifecycle of the project. Once the project team has completed the design and planning for the information, the project should be able to move to a Project Information Management Systems

A good PMIS needs to contain the following characteristics:

  1. Supply the necessary information and feedback so that potential problems are identified, and solutions are implemented early, before becoming constraints.
  2. Acts as a tool to collect, analyze, store, and disseminate information useful for decision-making within a project. – builds on a project’s success while using lessons from earlier experiences to improve project performance.
  3. It’s demand-driven, flexible and adaptable to the changing conditions of the project.
  4. Transparency: the availability and access to information by all project stakeholders.
  5. Accountability: the use and application of information to monitor the progress of the project and correct deviations.
  6. Inclusion and participation: project participants are given control over decision-making, including decisions on appropriate criteria and indicators to judge the performance of the services provided by the project.

Determining the right level of PMIS depends entirely on the information requirements of the project.

The list below can help the project manager identify the information requirements to define and develop an information-technology solution for the PMIS. This step will help evaluate the complexity of the information the project will manage:

  1. The requirements of information from the project’s governance structure.
  2. The requirements of information from the various project stakeholders.
  3. The methods the project will use to collect and organize all the information.
  4. The frequency with which the project team needs to analyze and report the information to key stakeholders.
  5. The volume of information it needs to collect from beneficiaries.
  6. The types of visual reports required, such as graphs, tables, maps, etc.
  7. The types of access, security, and controls to manage modify and update the information.
  8. The need to develop special reports in defined formats.
  9. The need for complex analysis of the information collected.

A Project Management Information System serves five principal purposes:

  1. Provide information for decision-making.
  2. Improve project management.
  3. Demonstrate results through project evaluation.
  4. Empower the project team and other project stakeholders.
  5. Increase opportunities to learn from experience.

In planning, PMIS provides the following:

  • Development of appropriate work breakdown structure
  • Concise budget framework used in cost estimation
  • Assigning and scheduling of tasks for efficient management
  • Supports the development of the various project management plans such as communication plan, financial plan, procurement plan etc.
  • Defining scope baseline

In execution, PMIS:

  • Helps in managing project resources such as materials, equipments, facilities in order to accomplish the project
  • Enables the project manager to keep track of project tasks that are implemented by assigned personnel
  • It creates the relationship that exists among project tasks during the execution process
  • Compares project baseline with the actual accomplishment of each tasks
  • Keeping project data and records for reporting purposes

In closure, PMIS:

  • Review of project tasks to ensure project goal is met.
  • Helps in preparing project final report.
  • Support in closing down the various project activities.

Meaning of Terms used in Project Management Information Systems

Project

A project can be defined as a temporary sequence of unique, complex and connected activities having one goal or purpose and that must be completed by specific time, within budget and according to specification. It is a planned undertaking that has a beginning and an end and that produces a predetermined result or product. Every project is constrained by its scope, time goals and cost goals. Projects vary in size and complexity

Projects have the following characteristics:

Unique purpose – a project is undertaken to fulfil a specific objective or desired result. This makes project work to have a high degree of risk.

Temporary – projects exist for a limited duration of time.

Life cycle – The life cycle of a project starts from a slow beginning to a buildup of size or growth then peaks before declining to a point of termination.

Require resources – such as money, manpower, time machinery, and other resources.

Conflicts– There exists high degree of conflicts between functional departments in terms of competition for the scarce available resources. E.g. finance, personnel and other resources.

Interdependence– Projects being undertaken simultaneously by the same parent organization often interact with each other. Projects also interact with normal operations of the organization like Finance and Human Resources.

Should have a primary sponsor – usually an organisation, a department or individual.

Involves uncertainty / risks – a great deal of the project implementation is unknown thus the need for planning and management.

A project life cycle is a collection of project phases, which includes:

  1. Conception/ Initiation
  2. Defining/Planning/ Development
  3. Implementation/ Execution
  4. Close-out

The first two phases relate to project feasibility awhile the last two phases focus on delivering the work and are often called project acquisition.

It is important not to confuse project life cycle with product life cycle. The project life cycle applies to all projects regardless of the products being produced. On the other hand product life cycle models vary considerably based on the nature of the product. For information systems a systems development life cycle (SDLC) is used. SDLC is a framework for describing the phases involved in developing and maintaining information systems.

 

Project Management

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful delivery of specific project goals, outcomes and outputs. However the challenge is in achieving all project deliverables given the preconceived project constrains related to scope, budget, schedule and quality.

The project manager is responsible for ensuring the overall success of the project and making sure that deliverables are realized on time, scope, and budget and within acceptable quality levels. The purpose of project management is to plan, organize and manage resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project objectives and goals.

Competencies of Effective Project Managers

The key competencies that project managers must develop are known as knowledge or competency areas and include:

  1. Technical competency- The science behind project management which include:
  • Scope Management-Only what was agreed are comprehensively identified, prioritized and sequenced.
  • Time Management– the time –schedule identifies the interrelated elements of the project plan. It ensures work is assigned and completed on time and within budget.
  • Cost Management– budgets are estimated and tracked.
  • Quality Management – systems put in place to ensure that the project meets acceptable quality standards.
  1. Human Resources Management– ensures that personnel systems exist for implementation.
  2. Communications Management– ensures that norms or appropriate stakeholders are in place and executed.
  3. Risk Management – risks and uncertainties are identified, anticipated, managed, mitigated and
  4. Procurement management –systems to manage both materials and contractors and project logistics implemented.
  5. Integration Management- project management cuts across all functional areas
  6. Stakeholder Management – project issues are identified, tracked, managed and resolved.

The project stakeholders are those people with vested interest in the affairs of the project and are involved in or are affected by project activities and may have power to influence the project in one way or another (project sponsor, project team, support staff, customers, users, suppliers and even opponents to the project).

  1. Leadership/ Interpersonal- the art of project management- how he communicates, inspires and resolves conflicts- managing, communicating and motivating the project team members.
  2. Personal/ Self-management –can he effectively prioritize, manage time and organize work? Organisational skills here include;
  • attention to detail,
  • ability to multitask
  • logical thinking
  • analytical thinking
  • self- discipline
  • time management
  1. Change Management– process is in place to manage change
  2. International Development Specific– the ability to apply the above three competencies in the context of international development projects- employing the right tools and processes that are unique to international development needs and within the cultural context of the project.
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