Eight Tips to Successfully Implement a Project Management Information System
Are you about to deploy a new Project Management Information System (PMIS) at your construction organization? Hopefully, you have done the upfront planning to ensure a successful project, and you have carefully evaluated the available technology platforms out there. Now comes the hard part: implementation.
Over my many years helping deploy multiple enterprise PMIS at various construction organizations, I have seen that the implementation phase is a big stumbling point for most teams. You can do all the right planning and select the best technology platform and still fail if you have an inexperienced or under-resourced implementation team.
What do I mean by implementation? This phase includes solution deployment, training, ongoing product management, organizational change management, scope change control, data migration, lessons learned, closeout, archiving, and making sure the ship launches without hitting an iceberg.
A Project Management Information System Implementation Checklist
Here are eight things to consider when implementing your PMIS:
1. Start planning for implementation on day one. Make sure you budget for sufficient resources to support implementation as this is the one area where you do not want to cut costs. Prepare an implementation plan that defines roles and responsibilities, timelines, scope, risks, and change processes.
2. Establish management support. Getting senior-level sponsorship from the initial planning stage through implementation and ongoing support is crucial to your PMIS deployment’s success. Construction organizations are typically matrixed organizations that are highly resistant to change. Having a senior manager as a champion for your PMIS will help cut through bureaucracy, gain buy-in where needed, and clear a path to success across your organization.
3. Address politics. Although a new PMIS should bring organizations closer together, they frequently surface the political strife within a company and expose inefficiencies and mismanagement. Deploying a new PMIS forces change, so prepare for the fallout. While a new system should make everyone’s life easier, it may also mean that some people, even whole departments, lose their power or their jobs. Have these discussions during the upfront planning so that managers have time to align their departments and express concerns.
4. Incorporate organizational change management (OCM). You can never over-communicate during a PMIS implementation, so be sure to incorporate OCM into your implementation strategy. Deploying your PMIS will almost certainly affect other processes, systems, and departments across your organization. And their processes might, in turn, affect your PMIS. Regular communication throughout the entire PMIS selection and deployment process will ensure that your users, and the overall organization, stay informed and aligned.
5. Plan for obsolescence. When I was a project controls manager, I always dreaded when a new senior manager came on board and decided to change everything in their image, which often meant switching to their preferred PMIS. The problem was that the incoming PMIS never dropped anything off our plates. The same processes continued but were now more complicated as the new systems required redundant steps because nobody had the authority to end-of-life the old PMIS. To gain more commitment from your teams, find ways to make their lives easier with the new PMIS by removing redundant tasks, re-engineering outdated processes and systems, and automating when possible.
6. Find the right team. Implementing a PMIS is complicated, and unless you have done it many times before, you should probably look for an external consulting company to support the effort. When selecting an external consulting company to provide implementation services, make sure that they specialize in the technology you are using. Many consultants claim to be experts in every PMIS, but they are just casting a wide net to get any business they can. Take the extra step to evaluate consulting companies; speak to clients that have completed an implementation with the vendor, and give the vendor a test so you can assess their approach as well as their general knowledge of the product. Then compare vendor responses.
7. Avoid staff augmentation vendors. If you choose to contract out your implementation team, avoid staff augmentation. While that may sound like a pretty bold statement, I have never seen a group of staff augmentation contractors pull off a successful implementation. Staff aug companies provide individuals with a limited skill set, and whether it is a successful project or not, they are getting paid. Service companies leverage a more comprehensive range of skills, and they typically structure their contracts around deliverables and milestones, which at least ensures some level of accountability.
8. Pilot first. We recommend this to every one of our clients. Start with one project and get a win before you roll out to an entire organization. Shotgun enterprise-wide deployments often fail. By piloting a single project successfully, you can get buy-in from the project team, who can then help promote it across the rest of the organization. You might also find that the software you chose or the team you selected to implement is not up to snuff during the pilot. Piloting gives you a chance to course-correct before you make too much of a time and monetary commitment.
Get Experienced Expert Help Deploying Your PMIS
I hope the tips above help you with your PMIS journey. If you have not already, be sure to check out our previous blog posts on pre-planning and selecting the right technology for a new PMIS. Stay tuned; in future posts, we will provide tips on best supporting a PMIS.
If you have any questions or are looking for an enterprise PMIS, contact us for a free consultation. Good luck!