Considering a new Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) for your construction company?
We covered the reasons PMIS implementations typically fail in our previous blog post. Below we share the best practices we’ve learned implementing successful PMIS solutions for our clients over the years. Follow these tips and you will save yourself and your company headaches.
In a future blog post, we’ll explain why we believe Microsoft SharePoint, a tool already in place at most organizations, is the best PMIS option for many companies.
10 Tips for a Successful Project Management Information System Implementation
Do not go into an Enterprise PMIS rollout with your eyes shut. A PMIS needs a scope, schedule and a budget just like any other construction project. Buying software is the last step in the process not the first. Do your homework and follow these best practices:
1. Take stock of what you already have. Analyze what you have before going out and buying an expensive new PMIS. You may find you already have tools that will meet your needs. For example, most companies already have Microsoft SharePoint. We have been able to provide 95% of our clients’ requirements by supplementing SharePoint with P6 and Arc GIS integration. Be sure to read our next blog article to learn why SharePoint may be the best PMIS solution for your company.
2. Take time to do requirements. We cannot say this emphatically enough. Taking time to do a proper requirements gathering phase is the difference between project success and failure. Requirements are independent of a PMIS, so spend the time defining your process before you even look at platforms. Understanding what your organization needs will make it easier to pick the right tool, prioritize features, avoid bloatware and ultimately save you time and money.
3. Shoot High, Aim Low. Plan the deployments so that functionality is released in phases. The shotgun approach does not work. Everybody on the project team is busy and their ability to change is very limited. Small wins build support and foster empowerment of project teams.
4. Assign Subject Matter Experts. A PMIS doesn’t build itself and magically know how you do things. You have to commit internal resources to collecting requirements, testing, training, encouraging adoption and managing feature requests. Establish a team of internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to support the PMIS throughout the entire Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). These should be experienced SMEs from each discipline that will use the PMIS, not “newbies.”
5. Get the right team. Ensure your PMIS deployment is successful by entrusting the project to a team that is expert on the platform. Many construction companies hire one-off contractors or consultants from staffing agencies to develop functionality and deploy solutions. Companies do this because they believe they will save money. But hiring IT generalists often leads to wasted time, incomplete solutions and ballooning project costs. A PMIS solution should be deployed by a team that knows the product – both hardware and software – inside and out. Hire a team that specializes in PMIS deployments that can efficiently deliver a complete solution.
6. Build grassroots support for your project. PMIS systems are successful when users embrace them, not when they are forced to use them by upper management. You can increase adoption by ensuring the PMIS makes things easier and more efficient for all stakeholders. Otherwise you are just creating more work for other teams. Find internal champions in each department who know the business and can influence the rest of the organization. Work closely with them to gather their group’s requirements.
7. Focus on core competencies. A successful PMIS implementation requires the help of technology experts with experience deploying project management systems. You are probably thinking that this is convenient advice coming from a consulting company. That doesn’t make it any less true. You know your business backwards and forwards, but you are probably not an IT expert. Your internal IT department specializes in software and hardware refreshes. But they are not experienced with the intricacies of PMIS deployments. Bottom line: you will end up spending double the cost and tenfold the time trying to develop and roll out a PMIS without expert help.
8. Embrace the cloud. Companies spend millions maintaining data centers that will never keep up with the latest technology and security requirements. We realize moving to the cloud seems daunting, But if you want to save cost, improve efficiency and foster innovation, your best bet is to get out from behind your firewall.
9. Make your IT partner part of the construction team. Your ideal IT partner should become part of your construction team to understand your business and your requirements. This will allow them to respond quickly to project needs and build solutions as they are needed.
10. Expect to spend money. Software is only part of the cost you need to consider. A bigger cost is the labor to develop and support your implementation. A PMIS should be treated just like rolling out an enterprise financial system or CRM. You don’t buy a system and then walk away. A successful long-term implementation requires careful initial planning followed by expert installation, maintenance, and support. Make sure your budget takes into account the full lifecycle of the PMIS.
Why Microsoft SharePoint is an ideal PMIS platform
In a future post, we’ll pull everything together to discuss why we recommend Microsoft SharePoint to our clients as the ideal foundation for a robust PMIS solution.
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