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  • Writer's pictureSirous Thampi

PMIS Evaluation | The PPB Framework: Project-Level Systems (Part 2)

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

In this post, I will discuss a simple framework to help us evaluate PMIS software. The acronym we use is PPB, which stands for “Project + Program + Business.”

It is a simple framework; while consultants like me love complexity (because we make money from solving complex issues and problems), a simple approach will serve us better here.

As you hear the description of each level, ask yourself where your organization currently stands. Does your organization need a Project (Level 1) system? Or are you ready for a Program (Level 2) or Business (Level 3) system?

The first level is Project. Every PMIS addresses project management to some degree. Here are some ways in which they do so:

1. They provide the means to store, organize and share project information. Here’s what you will likely find with most systems on the market today.

a. The data is stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed from anywhere. Some systems even allow the user to download information and view it offline.

b. The information is stored in a folder structure that can be duplicated across projects or for new projects, typically by creating a template project.

c. There is some degree of access control, so users will need permissions to access certain files. This helps when working with external vendors in the same system.

2. They provide tools to capture workflows, which are the processes that an organization follows to develop projects.

a. These tools may include desktop and field tools, the latter of which are largely for mobile users since construction sites are better suited for mobile devices.

b. The workflows may come pre-packaged or need to be customized. Each organization has different needs as far as workflows. An organization that relies significantly on external vendors such as contractors may have more complicated workflows. Some systems allow for collaboration with vendors or even allow vendors to work within the same system.

c. As with the file storage functionality, workflows may be permission or access based, so that different users have access to different workflows depending on their role on the project.

3. They allow for management of cost, schedule, quality and scope at the project level.

a. Cost: PMIS system capabilities range from providing tools for manually entering project financial information to full integration with accounting systems with budgeting, forecasting, invoicing, and more.

b. Schedule: PMIS system capabilities range from providing a place to upload a schedule developed in more specialized scheduling software, usually Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project, to creating a dynamic schedule with interdependencies between tasks.

c. Quality: PMIS systems can include emails, meetings, drawing management, RFIs, submittals, and other tools to address project quality.

d. Scope: PMIS systems can include contract management, change management, purchase orders, and other tools to address project scope.

Here are five questions to ask as you evaluate different Project-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.

1. Does your organization have set processes? If so, certain systems may be better than others.

2. How complex are these processes? If you work with a lot of different vendors, you may benefit from a more collaborative tool.

3. How well do your project team members follow these processes? If the answer is not well, then just getting them onto the same system can be a challenge as well as a huge opportunity for the organization.

4. Do you have an individual (or individuals) within the organization who will oversee and administer a comprehensive project management tool? If not, then who would be accountable for the successful integration and utilization of this tool?

5. How much time do your projects spend in pre-construction versus construction? Certain systems are more flexible than others and thus may be easier to adapt for pre-construction activities.

A Project-level PMIS is like a toolbox with the essential tools required to do the job. Almost every toolbox will have these tools, although they may differ in how they look and feel. A competent builder can use these tools to get the job done even if the builder may have prior experience using different tools.

To read about the next level of PMIS software, click here: [Read Part 3 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.

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