Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Project Management Information System

Information is a valuable resource. Every manager has to know that he is acquiring, producing and using information wisely and effectively in support of the organization’s goals and objectives.

Managing information requires the imposition of order, structure and discipline within a strategic direction. Information management is aided by the availability of technologies, methodologies, and development tools.

New forms of structure and technology dictate and make available new requirements for information systems. These new forms may need new types of staffs to develop and support them. This, in turn, will lead to new approaches to the training and development of information systems and information management staffs – staffs who will understand the technology, the information requirements of the business and its component parts and how information is best structured and stored to make it readily and effectively available as it is needed.

The availability of new and modern Technology has vastly increases our ability to access resources, both those we own and control and those outside of our own sphere of influence. As information management becomes more important every day, managers will need to ensure that people within the organization get the information they need to do their job effectively. Competitive advantage of organizations is very much governed by the effectiveness with which we manage these information resources.

Information systems now also extend over most areas of an organization. Once computers were restricted to the accounts department, but nowadays, we expect to see them on the shop-floor, controlling machines, warehouse – everywhere where work takes place. This means that more and more information is moving around the organization and needs to be managed. Once information was easily identified – it took the form of paper documents; today, it comes in a variety of forms. It is too valuable a resource to be allowed to move around unplanned and unchecked – and it is also a danger, in that too much of it clogs up our system.

The project management information system (PMIS) contains the intelligence essential to the effective planning, organizing, directing, and control of the project. All too often projects are characterized by too many data and not enough relevant information on where the project stands relative to its schedule, cost and technical performance objectives as well as the project’s strategic fit in the parent organization’s strategies.

Information is essential to the design and execution of decisions allocating resources in the management of a project. Decisions coming out of the planning and control of the project must be based on timely and relevant information. Project managers and his team members require information by which intelligent decisions can be made and executed effectively. Information flow is a critical consideration in the speed and eloquence with which the efficient and effective use of resources is carried out in meeting the purpose of the enterprise.

Information systems for organization include the formal information that is required to portray the organization’s posture, strategies, and performance, and the informal information which includes verbal communication which are informal and unofficial. This informal information can provide project managers with insight into how people really feel about the project.

The objectives of an information system are to provide the basis to plan, monitor, integrate project evaluation, and to show the interrelationships among cost, schedule, and technical performance for the entire project and for the strategic direction of the organization. In addition, information should provide a prospective view to identify project problems before they occur, so that they can be avoided or their impact minimized. Information is also required by the project team to continuously monitor, evaluate, and control the resources used on the project. There is also a need by senior management to be kept informed of the status of the project. The hardest part of any management job is not having all the necessary relevant information, yet having the responsibility of making the ‘right decision’.

In the construction industry, it is important that project information is shared between the project stakeholders so as to promote trust and to enhance a more mature relationships amongst them. Sharing of project information is one of the more important dimensions of keeping the team members working together cohesively and concurrently in the utilization of the project resources. Such sharing also facilitates the building of networks with the stakeholders through continuous interpersonal contact and dialogue.

It must be remembered that information has no real value and does not automatically lead to an effective management process. Information does not ensure success, but lack of information can contribute to project failures. Information and data is not equal. Data is merely raw material of information. Collected data are structured into meaningful elements and then transformed and refined to meet the needs of management.

Information provides the intelligence for managing the project. Information must be processed so that decisions can be made and executed. Information is essential to promote understanding, to establish project objectives and strategies, and to develop mechanisms for control, and forecast future performance, resources required, and to recognize changes. Information is needed to prepare the project plan, develop budgets, create and use schedules, and to lead the project team to a successful conclusion of the project. The project planning function establishes a structure and a methodology for managing the information resources which encompass defining, structuring, and organizing project information, anticipating its flow, reviewing information quality, controlling its use and source, and providing a focal point for the project’s information policies.

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