Key Features of the Best Project Management Information Systems (PMIS)

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Project management information systems (PMIS) help busy construction professionals create, collect, store, and control the flow of information related to their projects.

Moreover, owners and project managers can analyze the data stored in their project management information systems to make better decisions now and in the future.  

A PMIS can be a valuable tool for project managers, work teams, and every stakeholder on the project. 

Construction companies that use project management information systems (PMIS) boost labor productivity by 6x for every dollar spent on their PMIS. And PMIS offers a 7x ROI in direct cost savings on time and materials, according to this report.

With results like that, it’s easy to see why project management software is a growing industry

What is a project management information system?

A project management information system (PMIS) is a computerized system used by project managers to store, track and analyze data related to their projects. 

PMIS systems typically include task and resource management tools, a schedule builder, a central communication platform, risk management tools, and a document management system. 

Project managers use PMIS systems to increase efficiency and optimize performance by keeping all project data in one central location for easy access.

The best PMIS facilitates field task scheduling and employs predictive analysis to track completed work packages against the work breakdown structures for up-to-the-minute reporting. 

According to the Project Management Institute, information management systems are “indispensable.” 

What are the alternatives to project management information system (PMIS) software?

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Excel worksheets are still popular tools for construction management.

Despite the push toward digital transformation, many construction firms still rely on Excel for estimating projects to win their bids, tracking their finances, and day-to-day project management. 

Excel works well for these complex tasks, and Microsoft also offers several convenient templates and data-sharing integrations that improve the functionality of its product.

Using Google Sheets as a project management tool.

Google Sheets are handy, inexpensive, cloud-based, and work like Excel spreadsheets.

Users can create project schedules, Gantt charts, project budgets, and task lists, and even track the progress of their projects in Google sheets and Excel spreadsheets.

However, not everyone is comfortable reading spreadsheets. So to make things easier, Excel and Google Sheets users can configure data in interactive tables, color-coded graphs, charts, and other helpful visual reporting dashboards.

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Drawbacks of using spreadsheets as project management information systems.

Excel and Google Sheets can handle complex tasks and present data in easy-to-read formats. But spreadsheets often don’t translate well to mobile devices, which makes field use difficult.

And while spreadsheets are an easy tool to use, they often lack the sophistication and capacity that modern construction businesses require, especially when it comes to capturing data in the field and analyzing data in the office.

As construction companies grow, data integration and analysis, mobile access, and broader functionality become more critical. Spreadsheets and standalone applications just aren’t enough.

What to look for in a project management information system:

A variety of project management information systems are available for every business. But it’s not always clear which system fits your operation best.

Whichever project management system you choose, be sure it includes these essential features.

  • Team member directory and central communication platform
  • Master scheduler for broad overviews and planning
  • Project financial software or ERP integrations to create baseline budgets and track costs
  • Material procurement planning and scheduling
  • Resource management system
  • Custom templates for separate and aligned tasks
  • Fieldwork journals and templates to log incidents and daily work reports
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The scope and scale of your construction projects will determine what tools you need and when. But better to have everything you need than to piece things together once your project gets off the ground.

Integrated project management systems combine all necessary tools into one easy-to-use platform. Developed to minimize delays, cost overruns, and risk, PMIS makes managing construction projects more manageable, more efficient, and more profitable.

The best-in-class collaborative software will minimize delays, reduce risk, improve output and assist in every phase of the project management process.

Project management information systems in every phase.

There are four phases in the project management process: initiation, planning, execution, and project closeout. 

The best PMIS platforms have features that address the needs of project managers through every phase.

Initiation phase:

In the project initiation phase, project leaders, design teams, and general contractors establish the goals for the project, a baseline for costs, construction and material requirements, project milestones, and the projected completion date.

  • A robust PMIS will allow team members to electronically submit vital documentation, bids, RFIs, and tenders.
  • Collaboration on project scope and deadlines can begin with your PMIS at this early stage. 
  • PMIS allows managers to control the flow of information, track submittals, and stay on top of what’s left to do.
  • An integrated project management system makes collecting the necessary data and communicating with team members faster, easier, and more efficient.
  • Master scheduling tools, contact directories, and the collaborative communication platform built into the PMIS set the stage for early progress.

Project planning phase:

The project teams begin outlining tasks with their field managers in the preconstruction phase, developing the scope of work for step-by-step project completion.

  • PMIS utilizes master schedule builders to plan and design work packages, work breakdown structures, project phases, milestones, and the critical path.
  • Building the master schedule is easier and more accurate with the help of technology, allowing subcontractors and suppliers to collaborate digitally.
  • Sharing documents, images, and task schedules is seamless.
  • PMIS are ideal for providing baseline figures for reporting, bid estimation, and cost analysis.
  • PMIS provides a central hub to establish communication protocols and simplify team-wide collaboration on complex construction projects.
  • The best PMIS software provides standard templates and allows custom-built templates to create workflows and track progress.
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Project execution phase:

The execution phase of a construction project is arguably the point at which you will get full utilization of your PMIS.

  • PMIS provides all relevant plans, submittal docs, and more from one central location.
  • Work breakdown structures can be used to plan project progression visually.
  • Project stakeholders can access Gantt charts and view the critical path to stay on track for timely project completion.
  • Collaboration during the execution phase will ensure your team meets budget and deadline constraints.
  • Replace manual data entry with digital input, taking advantage of advanced data analytics to track progress and adjust the schedule accordingly.
  • Improved file sharing and document management mean stakeholders always have the necessary information.
  • Track progress with visual aids and updates from the field.
  • Digital field journals, incident reports, toolbox talks, and safety walks create a safe and productive work site.

Project closeout and commissioning phase:

The project closing phase is the most critical element of project management and where work teams struggle the most. 

There are more crews on the job site, task-switching and roaming the project, trying to finish things up. The disjointed nature of the project completion phase creates bottlenecks, congestion, conflict, and confusion. 

Software programs built for construction streamline the commissioning and closeout process by digitizing punch lists, documentation, manuals, and system operating guides keeping everyone on task.

  • Share documents, images, and files within the PMIS platform.
  • Schedule closeout meetings, inspections, punch lists, and follow-ups through project management software.
  • Assign punch list items with attached documentation, photos, and files to eliminate guesswork and ensure accurate and timely completion.
  • Track work progress through daily reports, updated in real-time as project teams complete their punch list tasks.

Evaluating your current project management information system:

Project management software provides many benefits that legacy systems cannot. Outdated tools such as Microsoft Excel hinder project teams don’t provide a central communication platform, resulting in disjointed communication and delays.

Integrated PMIS designed for the construction industry are vital to remaining competitive.

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How to know you have the right project management information system.

It is easy to use.

Your PMIS should be easy and intuitive for team members to use and require little training. It should have an interactive user interface that every team member can understand, from the site manager to the laborer.

A complete solution is best, but if you have some legacy tools, your PMIS should be open API and allow easy integration.

Is your system flexible?

Can you easily add new team members and integrate legacy tools, and is your PMIS system customizable? 

The most valuable solutions will allow you to customize your PMIS in a way that will work for your business. A flexible PMIS system will improve early adoption and benefit on-site task planning and project management in the long run. 

Can you scale with your current project management information system?

If you use various tools for each task and project, your ability to scale will be limited. 

Jumping between the project schedule, the task manager, different communication channels, and reporting dashboards wastes time. 

Functional PMIS accommodates new team members quickly and provides secure access for data sharing and collecting for every stakeholder on every project in your portfolio.

Are you using too many tools?

Using too many tools, from Excel to scheduling tools, financial software, and field reporting slows everything down. 

Using an integrated PMIS will streamline your project management process. It will benefit everyone, from the site owner and manager to the sub-contractor and their employees.

The key advantages of an integrated PMIS

Centralized Data Storage:

Fully collaborative PMIS empowers stakeholders to create, share, and store vital data as the project progresses.

Having this information in a secure and readily accessible platform increases the likelihood that project stakeholders will use it to improve their processes, which is essential for growth and progression.

Project management information systems allow for advanced tracking:

Keeping track of every task and milestone on large, complex construction projects is challenging.

The advanced technology in a fully integrated project management system keeps critical tasks and critical milestones in front of stakeholders at all times.  And the mobile app puts this information right in the palm of their hands for their convenience. 

That means every stakeholder has the project performance insights they need to make adjustments and changes when and where it’s required.

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PMIS improves decision-making and collaboration:

Project stakeholders need collaborative communication to stay informed of changes to keep their work crews on track. 

PMIS improves communication by creating a central source of truth. And that makes task scheduling and decision-making faster and more efficient.

Consider a project management information system built for the construction industry.

Successful construction professionals stay on top of every aspect of their projects, from initiation through closeout. 

Construction project management software streamlines these complex processes, manages task-based workflows, and allows seamless communication for successful project completion. 

Get a custom demonstration of the Linarc PMIS system today—the intelligent, intuitive, easy-to-use tool for managing the complexity of today’s building projects.

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