PMIS Evaluation | Program-Level Systems (Part 3)
Updated: Oct 30
In this post, I will continue the discussion of the PPB framework to help evaluate PMIS systems. Following the first level, Project, the second level is Program, also sometimes referred to as Portfolio. A program refers to a group or collection of projects. Here are some of the ways these systems address program management:
These systems will aggregate the data from different modules at the project level and publish it in the form of reports or dashboards.
The data may come from the project management, bidding, financial, administrative, or other modules. One example would be a single table showing the budget versus spend to date for all projects in the system.
These systems will provide canned or pre-populated reports which consist of the most frequently requested views as well as the ability to create custom reports for the user’s desired views.
Data may come from a single module (e.g., budget versus spend across projects) or a cross-section of modules (e.g., change orders by vendor for a specific project). The reports can be set up for distribution via email to different users at a scheduled interval. Data can also be exported to a flat file such as a .csv which can then be used in Excel or a visualization tool like Tableau to drive insights.
These systems either have built-in analytics capabilities or integrate with analytics software such as PowerBI to provide detailed views on aggregated data from different projects.
Analytics tools are typically highly configurable and provide real-time views based on selected metrics and parameters. Organizations that are already using PowerBI might benefit from the integration with their PMIS.
Here are five questions to ask as you evaluate different Program-level PMIS platforms 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 reporting do you need? Are these reports being generated for an internal audience or an external one? What format do the reports need to be in and how are they distributed?
II. How frequently do the reports need to be produced and how recent does the data need to be? If changes don’t occur very frequently in your projects, then real-time information may not be required for your distribution list.
III. Is your organization already leveraging project and portfolio data? Do you use any of the popular analytics and visualization software on the market, such as PowerBI or Tableau?
IV. Do you have an individual (or individuals) within the organization who would oversee and manage the portfolio using this system? Ideally this would be the role of an executive in charge of development or a program manager, someone tasked with reviewing the data, capturing and sharing insights, and using the information to make decisions.
V. Do you have established risk management, lessons learned, or continuous improvement processes?
A Program-level PMIS includes more refined tools that capture some information as the work is being done. These are not essential to getting the job done, but knowing how the tools have been used can be helpful for making better decisions.
For example, a tool may capture input that the builder is taking too long to complete a task, which could be delaying the next stages of construction. The owner can use this information to find out why the builder is having challenges or come up with a plan to make it easier going forward.
The next post in this series discusses Business-level PMIS software. [Read Part 4 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.