choosing the best Project Management Information System

Choosing the Best Project Management Information System

By Brian Tracy, PE, CCM, Group Manager, Learning & Development

An important element to a successful project controls strategy is selecting the best method to manage the flow and storage of information.  For many owners, the adoption of a Project Management Information System (PMIS) is an efficient way to facilitate these needs.  When choosing the best Project Management Information System to use, begin by listing your needs and goals and using them to determine the solution, not the other way around.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

Scale

Will this be used to manage one project, a few, or an ongoing portfolio?

 

Function

The range of tools available is nearly unlimited, but you don’t want to manage – and pay for – features that you don’t plan to use.

    • Some owners will use a PMIS to control project processes such as bidding, RFIs, submittals, change orders, and payment applications
    • Other owners may simply need a collaborative file storage option instead of a full PMIS. There are enterprise solutions available from the large established companies like Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive

 

Users

The teams that will access the system may include:

    • Internal project staff
    • Other departments within the organization such as facilities, purchasing, and accounting
    • External team members such as the CM, designer, and contractor

 

Data governance & security

Many PMIS solutions can integrate with both existing enterprise systems and outside software & apps.  This can eliminate double entry and increase information sharing.  Your organization’s security policies may influence the level of data sharing and user access

 

Mobility

How will the users interact with the program – from a fixed location or via mobile devices in the field?

 

Budget

What level of investment are you prepared to make?  Some organizations just need a functional, low-cost method to manage workflows and store documents.  Others will use a fully-integrated solution deployed across the enterprise and used by multiple departments, with data exchange between several systems.  In either case, be sure that the financial and staffing resources available align with the chosen system.

There is no one-size-fits-all PMIS solution.  Each client’s needs are different and each PMIS has diverse capabilities (and drawbacks) from others.  It’s also important to keep an eye towards the future.  In addition to a large number of existing options, the pace of advancement in this area is accelerating.  A 2017 article by McKinsey & Co. identified over 1,000 start-ups working on construction-phase technology solutions.  It’s likely that additional options will be available in the coming years, so it’s a good practice to remain flexible with your approach and open to implementing new methods once they have been proven.

Whether your needs are large or small, choosing the best Project Management Information System to manage your construction project can save time, improve collaboration, simplify closeout, and ensure convenient access to project records.

This article by Brian Tracy recently appeared in the Construction Management Association of America newsletter.