The growing adoption of Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) by public and private sector project owners to manage, monitor, evaluate and report on their capital construction projects’ portfolio delivery has raised the demand to integrate the PMIS with other software applications that those owners also owns. The most common integration requirement is with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems which is the application used to manage the business activities of those project owners. As ERPs are dedicated to all kinds of business management processes, they must coexist with other business solutions which are more dedicated to projects like a PMIS. A PMIS provides a centralized platform that stores all type of data about projects. The main role of PMIS is to process data collected from various project management processes and draw a report based on it. A PMIS also provides project stakeholders the insight for faster and better-informed decisions.
For those project owners, although an ERP and PMIS should coexist but they cannot allow redundant and duplicated information to exist. For example, an ERP solution usually does not get to capture the complexity of a project’s cost structure in which there are cost estimates, budgets, budget adjustments, commitments, potential change orders, change orders, interim progress invoices, miscellaneous invoices, payments of approved invoices among others. On the other hand, a PMIS is designed to capture those details to the desired detailed control level. In addition, an ERP is usually used to document what “has” happened, while a PMIS like PMWeb is designed to track what “might” happen. Therefore, the PMIS should become the entry point for all cost information related to the capital construction projects, so that the PMIS financial data “rules” over ERP and disagreements can be eliminated.
To ensure the successful integration between PMIS and ERP applications, data integration must be limited to what it is strictly required to avoid work duplication, avoid data divergence and promote transparency. Therefore, a proper integration business requirements document should be developed to identify the necessary integration or connection points needed to carry out administrative and financial control tasks as well as possible overlaps between PMIS and ERP. In addition, by adopting an interactive and collaborative approach this will insure consistent information integration from the PMIS and ERP.
Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb that comes ready with the APIs required to send the needed information with the desired granularity level could address the integration requirements. PMWeb APIs’ supports both integration protocols, SOAP and REST to provide system integrators with their preferred approach in building the integration.
The integration between a PMIS and ERP should be limited to the common data touch points between the two applications. For example, some of the project management processes that are implemented in PMWeb like those for work inspection requests, technical submittals, health, safety and environment (HSE), communications and document management, sustainability, risk and issues, schedule among others will not be integrated with the ERP. On the other hand, PMWeb processes that relate to procurement of contracts and contract management could be integrated with the ERP. Of course, the integration will be done in accordance with established business requirements. The table below is an example of high-level touch points that could exist when building an integration PMWeb and Oracle EBS.
PMWeb should become the entry point for the procurement of contracts and contract management processes. In other words, the workflow tasks for submit, review and approve of those processes will be managed in PMWeb. PMWeb workflow will be used to identify the workflow tasks, duration of tasks and the sequence for performing those tasks. In addition, PMWeb workflow will incorporate the conditions to ensure that those workflows are executed in alignment with the set approval authority levels which could vary by project. With the identification of the integration touch points and workflow rules between PMWeb and the ERP application, for example Oracle EBS, the integration processes buildup will proceed.
Integration Approach Sample Model
In addition, real-time, single version of the truth projects, programs projects portfolio performance reporting will be done in PMWeb as the effort needed to create those reports and dashboards in PMWeb will be far less than what is needed if they were done using the ERP application. In addition, PMWeb has the additional projects’ information that are usually captured in PMWeb and not the ERP application.
The PMWeb and ERP blended data source, also known as views, will become the basis for the projects, programs projects portfolio performance reporting. The integration effort will focus on extracting, loading, associating and blending the information from PMWeb and the selected ERP application. The common data source will become the basis for creating the additional fields and measures needed for the performance reporting.
How Integrating PMWeb and Oracle EBS Has Helped a Capital Project Owner to Achieve Overall 35% Reduction in Efforts in Managing Contracts on their Capital Construction Projects Portfolio?
The objective of the capital project owner for the PMWeb and Oracle EBS integration was to overcome the current lengthy, decentralized, and error prone process when managing projects separately in PMWeb and Oracle EBS. The pre-integration scenario was that projects were managed in PMWeb, invoices processed in Oracle EBS while credit checks were done in a third-party SaaS system.
The proposed solution was to create an Oracle EBS/PMWeb integration solution that includes Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) interface to connect Oracle EBS to PMWeb records system thus eliminating the duplicate data entry in the two systems. This required using available PMWeb and Oracle EBS APIs as well as develop new APIs for the records integrations. In addition, the proposed solution included migrating the existing data from the scattered systems and upload a fresh version after auditing the records.
The solution included developing schedulers to pick up unprocessed data from staging tables and then invoke the developed APIs of the Oracle EBS application. Finally, the proposed solution included the development of mechanisms to regenerate real time status reports for the executive stakeholders making the decision-making cycle on project statuses shorter. The proposed solution integration project was delivered using APIs, SOA, middleware and Java scripts.
The benefits gained from the PMWeb and Oracle EBS integration were many and have helped the capital project owner to achieve an overall 35% reduction in efforts in managing contracts on their capital construction projects portfolio. This was achieved as the integration helped to achieve “Zero Duplicity” by the complete elimination of duplicity and manual feeds to PMWeb and Oracle EBS. In addition, the integration created a streamlined method for customer record creation and automated Purchasing and Accounts Receivable (AR) invoices processing. Further, the integration enabled providing real time reports on integrated systems, that is PMWeb and Oracle EBS. Finally, the solution provided a single source of truth for contract information eliminating the redundant effort of data entry in PMWeb and Oracle EBS.
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 400 projects with a total value in excess of US$ 400 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 400 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South America. He has written more than 400 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He was 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.