Similar to any type of profession in any industry, for individuals that are being considered for leadership roles, technology awareness will be always one of those criteria that will be used to shortlist candidates specially with the new practices of Work from Home and Social Distancing are here to stay. Of course, proven experience, knowledge and personal characteristics will always have more weight when it comes to evaluating candidates, nevertheless, technology could be in many times what provide the extra points to make a candidate more preferred than others. During the post Covid-19 pandemic era, there could be less or even more capital projects to deliver, nevertheless, technology knowledge will become a critical factor for hiring the next project and program managers.
Needless to say, the technology awareness and experience must be relevant to the considered role. For example, a financial controller needs to have knowledge of accounting and ERP solutions, a project designer needs to have knowledge of building information modelling (BIM) solutions, a project planner needs to have knowledge of planning and scheduling software and a project or program construction manager needs to have knowledge of a project management information system (PMIS).
A project management information system (PMIS) is defined as a solution that enables managing, monitoring, evaluation and reporting all aspects needed to manage the delivery of capital construction projects and programs. Internationally recognized professional project management best practices and standards have identified those aspects as project scope, schedule, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, procurement, stakeholders, health, safety and environment (HSE), sustainability, claims, financial and the integration between all those aspects. In addition, a PMIS should enable managing the complete capital project life cycle phases including planning, design tender, design phase stages of concept, schematics, design development (30%, 60, 90% and 100%) and construction documents, construction tender, construction, testing and commissioning, and handover and closeout. Further, a PMIS should enable managing a single project, program of projects as well as projects’ portfolio.
One of those Project Management Information System (PMIS) solutions is PMWeb which comes ready with many of the processes needed to manage capital construction projects as well as it has a custom form builder that allows creating all other needed process. For each process transaction, supportive documents and links to relevant records and imported MS Outlook email can be added. To enforce accountability and map the execution responsibilities for each process in accordance with the project’s Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM), workflows to identify the tasks needed to submit, review, support, kept informed, approve or reject a transaction of each project management process needs to be created. Workflow steps will identify the duration for each step and sequence for performing them. Further, rules need to be added to the workflow to enforce the project’s approval authority levels. Those workflow steps can be also linked to DocuSign to enable the use of digital signature.
By having a workflow assigned to project management processes, the project or program manager will have the real-time ability to monitor and evaluate all delayed actions by each individual from all entities involved in the project delivery. The project or program manager will have a report that details for each project management process what are the workflow tasks that are either delayed, due or yet to be completed. For example, PMWeb comes ready with a default report that lists all those workflow tasks. Many PMWeb clients have design their workflow reports where delayed actions will be colored in Red, due actions colored in Cyan and those that yet to become due colored in Green. The report can be further improved by adding visuals to summarize actions status.
For some of the project management processes managed in a PMIS, there will be a need to formally communicate those processes. Therefore, many projects could have the requirement to print, wet-sign, stamp and share those communications. Therefore, a PMIS should have the ability to design and produce the output form for each transaction in any desired format to enforce the project’s formal communication requirements. PMWeb report writer allows creating all those forms that could vary between one project or program and another. Those output forms can be also configured to be automatically digitally signed using DocuSign.
Unlike other type of projects, capital projects by nature requires involving many contractually independent entities when it comes to executing those projects. Those entities could include the Project Owner, Project End User, Design Consultants and Engineers, Cost Consultants, Program Management Consultants, Project Management Consultants, Site Supervision Consultants, Prime Contractors, Subcontractors, Suppliers, Banks and Funding Agencies among others. Access rights and permissions for those entities and the individuals employed by those entities to access the PMIS and the data and documents captured and stored in the PMIS will depend on the project management plan and contract documents. Some of those individuals and other project stakeholders would need to access the PMIS from different locations across the globe as well as the construction site.
A PMIS will usually include massive volume of projects data and documents that are considered to be critical and must be stored and protected as per the Project Owner data protection and business continuity requirements which also might be influenced by the country regulations and compliance requirements for data protection. Therefore, most of the times, a PMIS solution and captured data and documents should be stored at the Project Owner own data center or an approved third-party data center located within the country. The Project Owner will have the ultimate control on who can access the stored data and documents and when to archive and store this data and documents.
A PMIS solution like PMWeb, enables the Project Owner to select the hosting solution that best suit their compliance requirements which could be either on premise or SaaS with dedicated server. This will also enable the Project Owner to decide on whether access to the PMIS should be only allowed through secured VPN networks or not.
Of course, no one would expect that the project or program manage will be personally involved in managing the tens of thousands of project management transactions that will occur during the project delivery life cycle phases. Nevertheless, project and program managers need to have real-time access to the project management processes that matters to them so they can monitor and evaluate the performance of those processes. A PMIS needs to have the functionality to design those reports which could include data tables and visuals using the data captured in the PMIS. A PMIS should also allow dedicated business intelligence and data visualization tools like MS Power BI to access the PMIS data to enable analyzing the data to provide the project or program manager with the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.
PMWeb comes ready with its own business intelligence report writer as well as enable third-party business intelligence and data visualization tools to have access to the captured data in accordance with the set security profiles. Tabular and graphical reports can be designed in the desired form and format required by the Project Owner.
In addition, one of the most critical and demanding tasks of a project or program manager is to communicate the project or program performance status and issues that are impacting the project or program performance with executive stakeholders. The quality and trust-worthiness of the reported information is of great importance as any false or incorrect performance reporting will create mistrust between those stakeholders and the project or program management team which could lead to losing the very much needed support and sponsorship which is usually very had to regain once its lost.
For program managers who could be involved in managing infrastructure programs that could include projects that will spread across the country or different countries, there will be also a need to visualize the geographical location of those projects. Those would usually include railway, metro, pipeline, highway, power transmission and other type of infrastructure projects.
About the Author
Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with 40-year service record providing project management, project controls services and project management information system to over than 200 projects with a total value in excess of US $100 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment, Hospitality and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training and business development.
Bassam is a frequent speaker in topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 40 years he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South America. He has written more than 300 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP) and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.