Does Anyone Benefit from Your Project Management Information System (PMIS)?

A project management information system (PMIS) is not an investment which most companies would make lightly. The one time and ongoing hard costs coupled with the change management effort involved in implementing such tools can be significant so it is reasonable to expect that there will be some tangible value derived once the dust settles.

Unfortunately, in spite of PMIS’s being commercially available for more than a couple of decades, they sometimes provide us with a live example of the Abilene paradox with everyone involved being fully aware that their system is a joy and money-leeching false deity which bestows no boons on anyone, least of all those who are required to offer information tithes to it on a weekly basis. Yet, investment in the system continues unabated, and the mandate to use it is frequently reinforced.

Does the mere existence of an implemented PMIS provide any benefit? Wouldn’t this be similar to installing a fake security camera which could provide some degree of assurance even though it is all form but no substance? Does the requirement to submit project updates regularly create the right kinds of discipline in project teams?

I highly doubt it.

Just because I am required to feed the beast on a weekly basis doesn’t mean that I will provide quality sustenance, especially if I see no WIIFM and even more so if I get coerced to do so.

What’s the root cause for such an unfortunate situation?

While we could point to a bad procurement decision, a lack of understanding of the processes being automated, or insufficient requirements gathering, these are sometimes just symptoms of the real culprit – poor stakeholder engagement.

If the PMIS purchasing decision and implementation is done without properly engaging one or more key stakeholder communities, the likelihood that data quality or presentation gaps exist will increase dramatically.

As with establishing PMOs, the implementation of a PMIS should be orchestrated like any other strategic project. It should be supported by an appropriately vetted business case, and planned and executed in a disciplined manner including effective, holistic stakeholder identification and engagement.

In other words, practice what you preach.

Kiron D. Bondale, PMP, PMI-RMP has managed multiple mid-to-large-sized technology and change management projects, and has worked in both internal and professional services project management capacities. He has setup and managed Project Management Offices (PMO) and has provided project portfolio management and project management consulting services to clients across multiple industries.

Kiron is an active member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and served as a volunteer director on the Board of the PMI Lakeshore Chapter for six years.

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