Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Building a Project Management Information System (PMIS) in SharePoint

A lot of people are using SharePoint to help the project management process. Time and Time again I see organizations stand up out of the box team sites and call it project management. While SharePoint is a great step forward in collaboration and sharing of information, the team site really only touches the surface of what we as project managers need to do to truly manage a project.

In this series I am going to discuss the use of SharePoint as a Project Management Information System (PMIS). I will cover some concepts and details on how to use the out of the box features and functions to create a PMIS. At the end of each major post I will also cover some 3rd party products and how they can be used to enhance and or accelerate your PMIS. I will also cover new features for SharePoint and how they can be used to enhance the solutions. This information will become part of the posts once Microsoft releases me from my NDA.

Now it is important to note that even though I am going to cover a lot of items in this series, there is no one tool or process that is right for everyone. There are many different ways to mange projects they range from broad frameworks like PMBOK ,Prince 2, Critical Chain, Lean and Extreme, to process Based management like CMMI and ISO.

This series does focus loosely on the PMBOK methodologies but the concepts and principles presented here should be easily adaptable to the other methods. This Series also focuses on single project execution not portfolio management (which I will cover in another series).

I love SharePoint as a PMIS because of its Flexibility. With SharePoint I can take any organization, no matter where they are in project management maturity, and build a PMIS that allows them to change, grow, and evolve the PM practices over time. Because you can do this over time you can plot a path to any level of maturity. It works especially well for those who are lower in the maturity scale because you can use simple systems and expand them as you are ready.

Since the majority of my experience lies in the realm of managing complex and large software development projects, most of the examples that you will see are focused on this. I will also be focusing on using SharePoint lists to manage items. These lists are not intended to replace good project documentation, but to allow users to manage items that will be eventually converted to formalized documents.

Before we get into the SharePoint details I want provide some PM fundamentals. I promise in this series I will try to keep the Project Management soap box speeches to a minimum.

Introduction to Project Management Information System Fundamentals

The Project Management Institute defines a Project Management Information system (PMIS) as an integrated approach for the management and distribution of project information. This system does not necessarily have to be electronic but in my experience it is rare to see a good PMIS that is purely in the paper world.

What is a PMIS?

A PMIS contains all the information required for the stages of a Project:
  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing, Managing and Controlling
  • Closing
The framework you implement should provide a way for:
  • Collecting
  • Organizing
  • Storing
  • Processing
  • Disseminating project information

It also should provide the basis for assessing the status of the project with respect to time, cost, and quality.

Things to consider in the stages

Initiation (Think it through):
This is where you look into an idea or requirement to see if it is desirable to turn it into a project. The focus at this stage is on what might be done and whether it is required.

This stage determines the nature and scope of the development. If this stage is not performed well, it is unlikely that the project will be successful in meeting the business’s needs.

In this phase, the project manager can use the PMIS for:

  • Preliminary budget, labor requirements, and financial structure.
  • Preliminary schedule
  • Approval cycle, including defining the Scope of work and presenting the information to the stakeholders

Planning (Plan it Out):
In this Stage the detailed planning and analysis happens and the system is designed. Controls should be in place that ensure that the final product will meet the specifications of the project charter

In this phase, the project manager can use the PMIS for:

  • Detailed schedule, detailed task analysis, project working calendar
  • Cost management planning, detailed work breakdown structure, integration of control procedures.
  • Resource planning, including labor/material/equipment requirements, availability of resources, and resource leveling
  • Obtaining sign-off - This includes establishing baselines for scope, schedule, and cost.

The main goals of this stage are:

  • Communication - This is the point where everyone with an interest should be made aware what you are intending to do
  • Realistic figures - costs and timescales are as accurate as possible

Execution, Manage and Control (Time to Do it):
Once the project is under way, the project team collects and enters current information. The project team compares the actual to the baseline plan to track project progress. The PMIS should provide cost and schedule forecasts to help the PM to develop scenarios concerning alternatives and corrective actions. It assists the project manager and stakeholders in investigating opportunities for reducing costs and accelerating schedules.

In this phase, the project manager can use the PMIS for:

  • Materials management, which includes expediting orders, tracking deliveries, and controlling inventories.
  • Cost collection, which includes collecting actual costs, extracting accounting data, and summarizing cost data.
  • Performance measurement, which includes monitoring project status, analyzing variances, assessing productivity, and forecasting trends.
  • Records management, which includes controlling artifacts, tracking contracts, and records management.
  • Reporting, which includes revising budgets, modifying schedules, analyzing alternatives, and recommending actions?

Closing out (What Did We Learn):
During this phase, the project manager and the team can use the PMIS for reviewing requirements to ensure that the project has met all of its contractual requirements. We need to properly organize this information because it provides a comprehensive set of project archives, which includes contract performance review, productivity analysis, final project report, and historical archives.

The 1st step is often the Hardest Step
For project managers, the 1st step is the most major step… deciding to implement a PMIS. The next step is to determine the uses of the PMIS to make certain that it will meet the needs of the project manager and stakeholders based on how you execute projects and how you should be executing projects.

Is it a project?

A few simple rules I like to use when identifying whether something is a project:

  • Is there a set of tasks or activities with a start and end point?
  • Are there well defined objectives?
  • Are specific resources needed to be assigned?

Not everything can be defined as a project. Some processes may be developments of existing operations or an extra task for a team or individual. A project is an operation to achieve particular outcomes, usually involving many stages, often involving many resources and with an end point. It is not 'business as usual' type of activities.

Throughout these posts my intention is to give you a blueprint to create a PMIS with share point 2007. Once the NDA for SharePoint 2010 has been released I will also include new features and functions that can enhance your project management information system by using SharePoint 2010.

In the post in this series I will be covering each Phase one by one.

Next post: Project Initiation (Think it through) with your SharePoint PMIS.

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  1. Great post, if you combine sharepoint and project server the result is wonderful, you can watch videos at http://www.gedpro.com/en/Solutions/gedproEPM.aspx

  2. In any organization, Project Management Software is used for different purposes like communication, collaboration and overall management and tracking of projects. If you need to schedule multiple tasks and events at work then project management software can be very valuable.

  3. Those who are using SharePoint must be aware of the need of project management.Now this post gives you all the details about PMIS in sharepoint.It include definition,features,uses and importance of PMIS.Most importantly PmiS is flexible to work on.
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  4. Nice article... Did you ever complete this series or did it fizzle out after the first post?

  5. This is one of the best Project Management Information System that I’ve seen. Thanks a bunch, I’m sure you put a lot of time into researching these and explain it very briefly in this post. I will like to use it for my Project Management. Keep posting such useful article.

  6. PMP Certification is highly respected within both IT & non-IT communities where strong project management skills are required. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like http://www.pmstudy.com/. You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.

  7. site really only touches the surface of what we as project managers need to do to truly manage a project.
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  8. Good post. Its so much informative for the followers. I like the way you describe this post. Its really helpful for the users of this site. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up. I am waiting for your more posts like this or related to any other informative topic. Here we have some stuff regarding Critical Chain Project Management. I think this information is helpful.
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