Functions of Information Systems in Project Management

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  • 0:02 Managing Information
  • 1:09 Project Management…
  • 2:24 How Does the PMIS Help?
  • 3:03 What to Look for in a PMIS
  • 4:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen O'Brien

Karen has 14 years of experience in consultancy, including creation of training materials and running courses for IT professionals.

If a system could make your job easier and improve your chances for project success, would you use it? This lesson explains project management information systems and how they can benefit your project.

Managing Information

Information is an important part of any job. A doctor must have information on thousands of diseases, a driver knows hundreds of routes, and a police officer must know every law in the land. Imagine that you are responsible for potentially millions of pieces of information - each piece relevant to different people at different times. And you had to access the correct piece of information instantaneously. This is the challenge of a project manager.

Over the course of a project, hundreds and thousands of decisions are made. These decisions have an impact, and they all generate information. Much of this information can be used in the future to benefit other projects, such as reducing risk, improving efficiency, and reducing costs. Say you design a terrific new report that drastically cuts down on report creation time; this will be extremely beneficial to future projects. But if this information isn't captured and recorded correctly, in such a way that it is easily accessible, these values will be lost and improvements may never be made. This is where project management information systems (PMIS) step in.

Project Management Information Systems

What is a project management information system? In a nutshell, a project management information systems (PMIS) is a system that captures all project data and stores it in an organized fashion. This information can be retrieved, searched, cataloged, shared, and analyzed.

Let's say you are building a car, specifically the doors of the car. You will need detailed instructions on how the doors should be built and attached to the car. The original design documentation specified how the doors should be angled on the body of the car. The project budget details how much should be spent on the doors. These documents are significant in size and complex in nature, making them difficult to review, and they're very time-consuming to find what you're looking for.

Without a PMIS, finding this information will cost time and may cause errors. Perhaps the door specifications are contained in more than one document section, but without the ability to search the entire document, you assume one section covers everything. Without a PMIS, not finding the budget information, or finding the wrong information, will incur a cost. It may delay the project or cause it to fail completely.

It's easy to see how efficient, easy access to accurate information is imperative for the success of a project.

How Does the PMIS Help?

In addition to providing specific information on specific areas of the project, as in the previous example, the PMIS should also provide intelligent feedback to the project manager. The PMIS should provide reports on the status of the project in terms of time, budgets, and risk.

This information is critical in order to ensure the project is on time and within budget. Without a PMIS, it would be a full-time job just to analyze information and provide reports - let alone manage the project. In addition, the PMIS reduces the possibility of human error in compiling these reports. You can be more exact if what you're seeing and what you're basing your decisions on is correct!

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