A04. Set up the PMIS

This activity is part of the Preparing section of the Project Flow. Preparation starts as soon as you have the idea or offer for the project, and ends with the decision to execute/accept the project, or drop it. Checking the feasibility or possible options for the project happens in this section as well.

Then the Project Manager sets up the PMIS (Project Management Information System). It’s a central place for technical, administrative, and managerial data and information in the project.

Use the following steps in this activity:

  1. Create a folder or container for project files. It can be on an online storage (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive), or an internal server in your company.
  2. Download the templates below, and add them to the folder.
  3. Make sure there’s an automated system for saving daily backups.
  4. It’s recommended to have a versioning system.
  5. When using internal servers, it’s recommended to have a synchronized offline access to the files.
  6. When using internal servers, it’s recommended to have a VPN server for remote access.
  7. Give read/write access to appropriate stakeholders.

The following are the PMIS elements. The way they are used is explained in related activities.

Remember the following about all PMIS elements:

  • They are all about your perspective to the project; e.g. the Business Case is about the justification of the project for you, rather than the external customer.
  • Keep everything simple, clear, and in plain language.
  • Remember that adding more detail to the documents is not necessarily useful; it may be counter productive.

Project Summary

Project Summary is a simple text file that provides the high-level information of the project, including its goal, targets (cost and time), roles, etc.

Download the template

Business Case

The Business Case is a text file that explains the justification of the project, and major risks that can affect the justification, as well as information on how to measure benefits during, and after the project.

Download the template

Configuration Map

Configuration Map is a mind-map that shows the composition of the product, with acceptance criteria and status. It’s used to create a product-based understanding for the project.

The highest level of the mind-map is the final product of the project. Then it’s broken down into its main functional parts, each part into smaller building blocks, and so on. Make sure you’re not using organizational departments or functional units as a basis for the break-down. This concept is the same as a well-formed WBS (Work Breakdown Structure), or a PBS (Product Breakdown Structure).

You may have the temptation to ignore creating a mind-map of the Configuration and directly create it as a WBS in the scheduling software. This is unacceptable in P3.express, as using the scheduling software for this purpose will generate an activity-based point of view.

No template is needed for this element.

Project Files Directory

The Project Files Directory is a hierarchical set of directories/folders that will be used to store all project files (technical, administrative, etc). The hierarchy is a replicate of the Configuration Map, possibly with fewer levels. This helps you keep a product-based perspective throughout the project.

It’s best to use a template to name the files. The template doesn’t have to include too much information; it’s usually easier to add the information to the metadata.

No template is needed for this element.

Schedule Model

The Schedule Model is created in a project scheduling software (e.g. Microsoft Project), and contains the activities, and their information such as dependencies, duration, and cost. Its WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is a replicate of the Configuration Map.

A high-level Schedule model is first created in the Preparation section, and then details will be added to the same model during Cycle Planning activities. The model may be adjusted in the Weekly Activities.

The model has two purposes: to provide the appropriate sequence of work, and to be used to measure progress, find deviations, and meet the targets by recovering fro those deviations.

No template is needed for this element.

Progress Register

The Progress Register is a spreadsheet that contains information on planned and actual performance data, and a simple dashboard for controlling the project.

Download the template, or a sample

Journal

Journal is a physical notebook, mobile application, etc. that the Project Manager uses to capture RIC (Risk, Issue, and Change Request) information immediately. The less important ones will be tracked in the Journal, while important ones will be moved to the RIC Register.

When selecting an application, make sure it’s easy for you to use it. More features, such as task management functionalities, can be helpful, but are not crucial. If you find them distracting, just use a simple note taking application.

No matter what you use for your Journal (physical notebook, mobile phone, tablet, etc), it should always be with you.

No template is needed for this element.

RIC Register

RIC Register is a spreadsheet that contains information about all Risks, Issues, and Change Requests, and well as their response plans.

Download the template, or a sample

Project Health Register

Project Health Register is a spreadsheet that contains all evaluation and audit information, as well as improvement plans.

You can use Google Forms, or an alternative, to send the evaluation questionnaire

Download the template, or a sample

Suggested Software

You need 5 pieces of software for the PMIS elements:

  • Project Summary and Business Case: a word processor
  • Progress Register, RIC Register, and Project Health Register: a spreadsheet
  • Configuration Map: a mind mapping software
  • Schedule Model: a project scheduling software
  • Journal: a note taking software (unless you prefer to use a physical notebook)

You also need a storage for these, and also the Project Files Directory.

The following are suggestions for each of them.

Suggested Solutions for Storage

  • Online file hosting services. Team members can use the official clients of these services to create local, synchronized folders on their computers, and use the files more conveniently. They also provide version control, basic access control, and simple forms of backup. You still need to make external weekly backups manually, using third-party applications, or using scripts. The following are the major providers in this category:
  • Company’s servers, or an external hard-drive connected to the network. In this case, the following features should be made available for the storage:
    • Automatic Backups
    • Versioning
    • Access control
    • VPN, or another way of accessing the files from outside the company
  • A document management system or a system that covers document management, such as Alfresco or Sharepoint. It’s only recommended to those who already have such a system and prefer not to have parallel systems; otherwise, just use one of the first two simple options.
  • A sophisticated project management software that covers document management, such as Oracle and SAP solutions, or online ones like Basecamp. It’s only recommended to those who already have such a system and prefer not to have parallel systems; otherwise, just use one of the first two simple options.

Having project files distributed in project members’ computers without a centralized space is not acceptable.

If you don’t know which option is best, or you don’t have any preference, we suggest using a cloud storage.

Suggested Word Processors and Spreadsheets

There are two main criteria for selecting a piece of software here: 1) which one is more familiar for you and the rest of the team, and 2) which one is better integrated with your storage system.

Suggested Mind Mapping Applications

We don’t expect a lot of fancy features from the mind-mapping software. You can just pick the one that you’re most comfortable with.

Suggested Scheduling Software

Your choice here is not critical for small projects with simple schedule models. However, for larger or relatively complicated projects, it’s best to select a scheduling software that you’re most familiar with. Remember that your schedules are not supposed to be complex in P3.express; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and we usually have weaker domains in project management to take care of, instead of spending more effort on scheduling.

Suggested Note Taking Software

You can always use a simple physical notebook and a pen for the Journal, given that you have it with you all the time.

Having an application that is simple and easy to use is more important than having one with lots of fancy features. The whole point for a Journal is to open it quickly, and write down a RIC, before you forget it.

Sample PMIS Configurations

  • Google Drive storage + Google Apps, Microsoft Project, xMind, EverNote
  • Microsoft OneDrive storage + Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, xMind, OneNote
  • DropBox storage + Microsoft Office, LiquidPlanner, MindJet, SimpleNote
  • A simple file server in the company with required features + LibreOffice, LibrePlan, FreeMind, ToodleDo

Support

Setting up the PMIS is very easy. However, if you and other team members are not confident about it, you can simply ask help from your IT department to see which configuration is best. Try to have a conversation with them and go through all alternatives.

Preparing

  • A01. Appoint the Sponsor
  • A02. Prepare the Project Summary
  • A03. Appoint the Project Manager
  • A04. Set up the PMIS
  • A05. Appoint the rest of the team
  • A06. Populate the PMIS
  • A07. [Select suppliers and agree on the Supplier PMs]
  • A08. Preparation Audit
  • A09. Go/No-Go
  • A10. Project kick-off
  • A11. Focused Communication

Cycle Planning

  • A12. Update the PMIS
  • A13. [select suppliers and agree on the Supplier PMs]
  • A14. Go/No-Go
  • A15. Cycle kick-off
  • A16. Focused Communication

Weekly Activities

  • A17. Measure and report performance
  • A18. Manage deviations
  • A19. Weekly kick-off
  • A20. Weekly Audit
  • A21. Focused Communication

Daily Activities

  • A22. Capture RICs
  • A23. React to RICs, based on Delegation Limits
  • A24. Accept completed products from the Team Leaders and Supplier PMs

Cycle Closing

  • A25. Evaluate the customer and team satisfaction
  • A26. Plan for improvements
  • A27. Focused Communication

Closing

  • A28. Receive approval and hand over the product
  • A29. Handover the Business Case to the responsible person
  • A30. Evaluate the customer and team satisfaction
  • A31. Closing Audit
  • A32. Archive the PMIS
  • A33. Celebrate and announce closure
  • A34. Focused Communication

Post-Project

  • A35. Check the Business Case and evaluate the benefits
  • A36. Design additional activities if required
  • A37. Focused Communication

Shortcuts

About PMIS elements (documents)

  • A04. Set up the PMIS
  • A06. Populate the PMIS

About Roles (people)

  • A05. Appoint the rest of the team

About Planning

  • A06. Populate the PMIS
  • A12. Update the PMIS