Selecting a Project or Programme Management Information System

Anthony Reid
The use of digital tools to manage projects is nothing new, however the range of tools that can provide benefit when properly implemented and integrated is vast and growing, which is making the decision regarding which are the most appropriate for a particular project a difficult one.

The construction industry is increasingly using digital tools and applications to manage the vast amount of data it generates. However, the decision on which system to adopt, and how to configure it to achieve the greatest benefit, is a difficult one.

Faithful+Gould has a track record of helping companies select and implement project and programme management information systems (PMIS). Our dedicated digital team has been working with client organisations to highlight the benefits of these technologies, demonstrating ways to increase efficiencies and maximise the quality of service delivered through targeted investment.

Our digital team is helping organisations to embrace the digital revolution, realising tangible benefits in cost reductions, time savings and risk mitigation.

Construction project management has evolved from a policing role, to one of strategic advisor. Traditionally, a PM’s time was spent collecting, collating, auditing and presenting data from the preceding reporting period. This left limited time to add value through diagnostics, trend analysis and forecasting.

Today’s digital systems gather and organise data during day-to-day use, allowing this process to be accelerated through automated checking. This increases consistency and quality, and instantly transforms the raw data through pre-configured business processes and defined key performance indicators (KPIs), into timely and actionable intelligence.

The first step towards a PMIS is to define the organisation’s existing business processes, identifying how technology might optimise these. A Business Requirements Document can then be developed, defining what the PMIS is expected to do and outlining the parameters for selection. These are the technical, functional and performance criteria for the system, including security, usability, concurrent accessibility, data storage locations and integration with existing systems. The final differentiator is the total cost of ownership, which must consider development, implementation, licences, user training and through-life support.

To define the specific system requirements, it is usually necessary to first develop a set of management plans outlining how the project or programme will operate, regardless of the systems being considered. The plans are typically divided into functional areas such as communications, planning, design, cost, procurement, change, quality, risk, construction and, where applicable, operations and maintenance.

An overarching stage-gate process should also be developed, supporting the programme’s requirements and providing the framework within which all the other processes operate and align. Once agreed, the plans become live documents, maintained throughout the programme, providing guidelines for how each area of the system should operate.

Comparing the requirements within each functional area with our existing knowledge of the various system options, gathered through years of implementation experience, provides a detailed overview of the possibilities and how the requirements can best be fulfilled. An understanding of when and how frequently these systems are likely to be used, throughout the life of a project, provides the user distribution and expected number of licences required. This informs the total cost of ownership model, allowing further comparison of system cost versus capability.

The project management systems available on the market provide capabilities across the functional areas, but few address them all. A PMIS typically comprises several separate software applications that must be configured to provide a seamless, integrated solution. An overall architecture must be developed to define the operations each tool will perform and the information that will pass between them.

An Application Programming Interface (API) typically allows data to be transferred. This interface must be clearly understood and specified, by working backwards from the data required to generate the identified KPIs. When implementing a PMIS it is essential to consider the cost and effort of ensuring these interfaces are properly configured.

Faithful+Gould has developed relationships with software vendors and other third-party technology companies over the past ten years. This allows us to provide insights into the best value propositions, and leverage these relationships to ensure competitive pricing and inclusion of system support and training.

Fundamental to the implementation of any information system is the ability to summarise, understand and interrogate the data. We identified a gap in the market for a modern and innovative dashboard reporting platform, and we developed Dynamic Insight, designed to integrate with virtually any data source.

Dynamic Insight can configure dashboards tailored for specific asset groups and industry-specific services. Using data accumulated over many years, our team can benchmark KPIs, allowing project teams to run diagnostics on the health of any project, and enabling trend analysis of time, cost, risk or any other relevant measure.

 

Visualisations allow PMs to report graphically and track progress, with specific and appropriate KPIs for each level of the organisation. Embedded 3D models and geospatial visualisation features allow data to be organised, filtered and accessed through an intuitive and interactive interface. The interface is especially valuable when applied across a geographically dispersed programme or an organisation’s entire project portfolio.

Implementing a PMIS speeds up communications, automates decisions, ensures a single source of truth exists and enables data to be transformed into beneficial business intelligence. This offers tangible benefits that quickly prove their worth through cost reductions, time savings and risk mitigation.

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