I have been fortunate to work on the development and implementation of analog project management systems (PMS) in both the refining and shipbuilding industries. I have also performed directly on work packages within project front end stages and execution stages in offshore petroleum, mining, and other sectors.
As many know, a PMS is a documented structured methodological approach (usually with flexibility options that require competent navigation) to organize the various project management processes with steps, procedures, role assignments, deliverables, and other items using mechanisms such as TTGFG’s (Templates, Tools, Guidelines, Forms, and Go-By’s). Quite often, the PMS is broken down into a project stage gate system that includes, but not limited to, Initiation, Prelim Design, Design, Execution, Commissioning, and Closure stages. This is an oversimplification of a PMS, but a summary “elevator speech”. Further information can be found through industry references, including in the latest PMBOK® Guide of the PMI®.
On some of my projects I’ve experienced working with digitally automated (or partially automated) PMS, known generally as a Project Management Information System (PMIS). There are plenty of configurations possible in these centralized information systems, but they tend to connect with (or provide) scheduling modules, procurement modules, earned value and other performance reports, real-time dashboarding, automated distribution of change requests, requests for information, change notices, decision support packages, online stakeholder review processes, and other helpful features.
One of the many benefits of using this automated system is that it can serve as a backup system for ensuring the correct implementation of role assignments. Default and customized settings can be established for specific action and approval permissions for the project team/stakeholders. For example, if the Planning Manager reviews a certain type of schedule and attempts to confirm her/his approval on the PMIS, the approval might get denied in the system because it has to go (or also go) to another team member for final approval on the system.
As helpful as this PMIS permissions feature is as a conformance, authorization, and navigational tool to reinforce the role parameters, I feel that the PMIS benefit will be further enhanced for the project team when they also receive access to good PMS training, coaching, and mentoring. The team thus learns not to trigger quite so many digital safety bumps because they really do understand the logic and roles in the project management processes. Likewise, I feel the training, coaching, and mentoring will make the top notch PMIS shine even better.
As mentioned in previous articles, this is where the project champions can step up to make a difference to enhance alignment, safety, and success. Hopefully we can find these champions in roles such as the Project Manager, Sponsor, Project Interface Manager(s), PMO Training Manager, SHER Manager, VP, and others.
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