PMIS Evaluation | Business-Level Systems (Part 4)
Updated: Oct 30
The third level of the PPB framework is Business. This is where the PMIS system is integrated into other systems that the business is using for its core functions. In my experience, very few organizations are operating at the level where this is happening. However, with development being so critical and central to what a project owner or developer does, having some type of integration between the PMIS and the rest of the organization’s business critical software can be a game changer when it comes to scaling the program.
Here are three ways a PMIS system can be integrated with other business software:
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software
The term ERP refers to a suite of integrated applications that an organization can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities. These activities include accounting, human resources, manufacturing, order processing, supply chain management, customer relationship management, etc. There is free and open source ERP software as well as proprietary ERP software which can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the latter category, popular ERP software includes SAP Business Suite, Oracle E-Business Suite, Microsoft Dynamics.
2. Accounting software
While accounting software can be included within an ERP, some organizations have stand-alone accounting software which is not integrated with other business management software. This software typically provides the ability to record transactions, manage budgets, perform accounting tasks, perform payroll and customer relationship management, and prepare financial reporting. Popular accounting software includes QuickBooks, Sage, and Great Plains, but there are many applications including free options.
3. Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
A CMMS is a software package that is used for operating and maintaining assets. This software includes real-time information which is essential for ongoing asset management. Since it is essential for those operating or maintaining an asset to know how it was built, a smooth transfer of information from the PMIS to the CMMS can help minimize risks and lower costs.
A level 3 toolbox has tools that are capturing data while they’re being used and actively sharing that data with the owner in real time. For example, in a Level 3 system, the owner knows how many nails have been used, what type of nails, where they’ve been used, by whom, and how many more might be required—and the owner can preemptively go ahead and place an order for more nails before the builder puts in a request for them, thereby reducing the time that would otherwise have been lost waiting for more supplies before the job could be continued.
Here are four questions to ask as you evaluate different Level 3 systems as well as your organization’s readiness for this kind of system. The answers to these questions may dictate the kind of system your organization requires:
I. What type of business-critical software is your organization using? Does any of this software have existing integrations with any of the PMIS systems on the market? Is the software open API so that it could be integrated if so desired?
II. How much interface is there between different departments or divisions within the company and the development team? Is there already a working relationship between these groups? Any type of integration between the PMIS system and business software will require them to work closely together, possibly for an extended period of time.
III. How time sensitive are the payment terms for vendors? If the payment is due within a short time period, or if there are heavy penalties for being late or missing payments, an integration between the accounting software and PMIS system could pay for itself pretty quickly.
IV. Is the organization operating the projects after developing them? Even if it isn’t, how valuable is the information gained during development for the party that will be operating and maintaining the asset?
Now that you have reviewed the different levels of PMIS software, the main question is:
Where is your organization today and where does it need to be in order to achieve its objectives?
It is much easier to go from Level 1 to Level 2 than it is to go from Level 1 to Level 3. However, if you are implementing a new system entirely, it may be appropriate to pick a Level 2 or Level 3 system based on the organization’s internal capabilities, needs and aspirations.
In the next post in this series, we will share an action plan to identify and select the right PMIS software for your organization. [Read Part 5 of this series here.]
This post was written by Sirous Thampi, the founder of THAMPICO LLC, a consulting firm that provides program and project management support for utilities and cooperatives. We help our clients align people, process, and technology to produce optimal outcomes for energy project development. Our goal is to help our clients deliver more reliable, affordable, and clean energy, which is what the world wants and needs.