Building a Project management information system in your organization with Microsoft Project

 

 

 

 

Presented through

 

 

PMI - Project Management Career day

 

September 13, 2007

 

 

 

 

 

by Brian Mullen, M.Sc., MCCP

 

 

 

I.S.P.

information

systems

planning corp.

 

 

5361 Malaspina Place

North Vancouver, BC

V7R 4L9

(604)980-5550

internet: brianmullen@shaw.ca

www2.cstudies.ubc.ca/~mullen

www.ispangle.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Project management information system in your organization with Microsoft Project

 

We will discuss his experiences and recommendations based on implementing several PMIS (Project Management Information Systems) for clients using both Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server. A PMIS captures information about an organizationís current and futureprojects to allow workload analysis across multiple projects and porfolio management. We will compare building a Project Management information system with Microsoft Project and Project Server. Simple versions of a PMIS can be built with desktop versions of Microsoft Project. The decision process to determine whether to use Microsoft Project or Project Server will be included in the discussion. This talk will show how Project Server enhances electronic collaboration and simplifies the construction of a robust information system with full security.

 

Table of Contents

 

Building a Project management information system in your organization with Microsoft Project 1

Table of Contents. 2

1.†††† Describe a PMIS project management information system. 4

2.†††† Why do project managers use Microsoft Project 5

2.1.††††† Capture Planning decisions and stimulate thinking. 5

2.2.††††† Communicate with project team and stakeholders. 5

2.3.††††† To track project progress. 5

3.†††† Why build a PMIS (Benefits) 8

3.1.††††† Increase leverage of valuable planning information. 8

3.2.††††† Create an integrated environment where updates to the project plans flow upwards into consistent status reports to management. 8

3.3.††††† Example of a non-integrated environment 9

3.4.††††† Manage Project Portfolios with desktop Microsoft Project 10

3.5.††††† Analyze Workload cross multiple projects. 11

3.6.††††† Workload analysis graphs by project in Web Access from Project Server 12

3.7.††††† Workload analysis graphs by resource in Web Access from Project Server 13

3.8.††††† Create consistent reporting across all projects. 5

3.9.††††† Create centralized Timesheet Collection with Project Server 14

3.10.†††††† Keep projects on the Radar screen. 14

3.11.†††††† Reduce workload of project managers. 15

4.†††† Why use Microsoft Project for PMIS.. 15

5.†††† Key success factors in setting up a PMIS.. 15

5.1.††††† Executive Vision. 15

5.2.††††† Implementation Competence. 16

5.3.††††† Microsoft Project interfaces. 17

5.4.††††† One or more project templates. 18

6.†††† Steps to build a PM information system PMIS foundations. 18

6.1.††††† Understand organization challenges and requirements. 18

6.2.††††† Create repository of up to date projects. 19

6.3.††††† Create stub project plans for projects with no plans. 19

6.4.††††† Summarize project portfolio. 19

6.5.††††† Building custom views and reports. 19

6.6.††††† Compare MSP desktop with Project Server 20

7.†††† Compare Project Server with Standalone Microsoft Project. 21

8.†††† Install and Configure Project Server 23

8.1.††††† Only Admininistrator Id after Project server installation. 23

8.2.††††† Project Security. 23

8.3.††††† When to implement Project Server 23

9.†††† Overcome Challenges implementing PMIS.. 24

9.1.††††† Organizational vision and commitment 24

9.2.††††† Challenges to get projects into Microsoft Project 24

9.3.††††† Change management. 24

9.4.††††† Including unplanned projects in PMIS. 24

9.5.††††† Interfacing to the accounting system. 24

9.6.††††† Lack of standardization in organization. 24

9.7.††††† Resistance to timesheets. 25

10.†††††† Brian Mullen, MSc, MCP.. 26

 


 

1.   Describe a PMIS project management information system.

 

 

Document repository

 

 

 

Timesheets and Outlook

Proposals,

Scope definition,

Requirements definition,

Design specifications,

Test docs,

 

 

 

Communicate task assignments to team members.

Capture where people are actually working and updates project plans.

Sharepoint, Word, Excel, Visio, etc

 

 

Team members

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimating

 

Project files

 

Project reports

WBS structures

Work orders

Estimating skill needs, work effort and cost

 

Tasks

Dependencies

Assignments

Resources (maybe)

Proposals, schedules, to do lists and progress and information repo

Excel

 

Project manager

 

Stakeholders

 

 

 

 

 

Procurement

 

Accounts Payable

 

Billing Systems

RFPís,

Proposals,

Contracts,

Timely orders to vendors

Actual non-labour expenses

Recording and billing project work to customers

PM and Purchasing

 

Accounting systems

 

 

 

Project management system is the information systems that support project management and deliver information to needed stakeholders.

 

2.   Why do project managers use Microsoft Project

 

2.1.                    Capture Planning decisions and stimulate thinking.

Planning combines many types of decisions.

Avoid overlooking and forgetting key action items and issues.

 

Plans helps manage complexity and keep track of the detail in their project.

 

2.2.                    Communicate with project team and stakeholders.

 

Project plans help communication information about the project.

 

Understand Roles and responsibilities. Identify work to be done and assign responsibility.


 

2.3.                    Create consistent reporting across all projects

 

 

Project Server enables electronic collaboration which improves better communication to clients, management and stakeholders.

 

Project reports delivered through Internet Explorer using Project web access.

 

Requesters can request the format they want in a format they want, when they want (Reports on demand.

 

Any report can be restricted through security. For example only executives may be able to see certain views.

 

2.4.                    To track project progress

Schedule Ė when should action items be started to finish project on time, within schedule.

What is planned cost? How are we tracking against cost?


 

 

3.   Why build a PMIS (Benefits)

 

Projects are vehicles of change. Success of an organization depends upon its ability to implement projects effectively. Improved products or processes are created with projects.

Projects mobilize resources to accomplish business objectives. Make sure that your resources are applied to the most critical projects. Executives find a list of their projects with current status very valuable. Senior management may have no repository of current projects. Smooth flow of information between stakeholders.

3.1.                    Increase leverage of valuable planning information.

 

The importance of a project management information system to an organization will be compared to a financial information system. Differences between a PMIS and your finacial accounting system (ComparePMIS WithFinacial)

 

Roles of other stakeholders (Resources managers, Executives and team members) in the success of the projects.

 

A project plan is like a table of contents for the project information. The improvement of flow of information in a project. Communicate with team members in current and future phases.

 

 

Resource managers can analyze Resource work loads resource workloads across multiple projects.

 

 

3.2.                    Create an integrated environment where updates to the project plans flow upwards into consistent status reports to management.

 

 

 

 


 

3.3.                    Example of a non-integrated environment

 

Client

 

Estimating Department

 

Project Scheduling function

 

Project Management function

 

Estimate work packages for proposals

Define project structure

Identify resource types

Import structure to Microsoft Project

Create schedules

Manage Project

 

 

 

Microsoft Excel

 

Microsoft Project

 

 

 

Organizational silos.

 

Avoid spreadsheet hell characterized by

 

Microsoft Project allows you to generate multiple reports from a single source.

 

 

In a non intergrated environment you have much manual effort to transfer information from one system to another. In an integrated system this is more seamless.


 

3.4.                    Manage Project Portfolios with desktop Microsoft Project

 

 

Simple system exists in desktop Microsoft Project using master projects where you can insert sub projects in a master plan and roll up the details. Can drill down to sub-projects.

 

Master project contain summary of sub projects.

 

More disciplines required by project managers. They canít rename project files. Project names must be constant. Cannot save multiple versions of the project plan.

 

Microsoft purchased a dedicated Portfolio Management system integrated with Microsoft Project.


 

3.5.                    Analyze Workload cross multiple projects

 

 

Analyze workload analysis across multiple projects to determine each resources workload.

 

Workload analysis performed by resources managers to assign resourecs to projects andforecast need for new and contract resources. Resource managers should review a personís existing workload before assigning them to a project.

 

Resource pool facilitates workload analysis across multiple projects

 

Use resource usage view. Add project name column to see which project assignments come from.

3.6.                    Workload analysis graphs by project in Web Access from Project Server

 

 


 

3.7.                    Workload analysis graphs by resource in Web Access from Project Server

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidation of projects based on resource pool.

 

 


 

3.8.                    Create centralized Timesheet Collection with Project Server

 

ip

1. Resource managers allocate resources to projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Project managers assigns tasks to project team.

3. EPM updates resource workloads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Project manager publishes assignments to team members

5. EPM routes assignments to resource timesheets

6. Assignments appear in team member to-do lists (timesheets).

 

 

 

 

 

9. Manager approves timesheets for multiple projects

 

8. EPM routes T/S entry to appropriate manager for approval

 

7. Team member enters actual work & submits timesheet

 

 

 

 

 

10. Project Professional opens projects and updates project plans

11. Revised plans saved in Project Server database

 

 

 

 

 

So you know where your resources are actually spending their time. Also your source data for billing clients. Must be centralized so because many resources are working on many projects.

 

Buy a third party timesheet package for desktop microsoft Project. Project Server provides an integrated Timesheet capability.

 

 

 

3.9.                    Keep projects on the Radar screen

Management tends to want to start new projects before existing projects are complete.

3.10.               Reduce workload of project managers.

 

Opportunity to offload administrative workload from the project manager so they can focus on managing the project. Organizational commitment to improve and standardize project management

 

Reduce preparation of routine reports.

 

Automate collection of actual time worked with timesheets. Valuable feedback to project managers that allows them to manage projects better.

 

Reduce training for new project managers with templates.

 

4.   Why use Microsoft Project for PMIS

 

Project information may already be available for some projects.

If you are lucky its being reported.

 

 

Most people think of Microsoft Project being a desktop application for use by Project Managers to enhance their ability to plan, manage and track projects. Many other functions could utilize project information. However updated project plans contain very valuable information that can feed other users in the organization.

 

 

 

5.   Key success factors in setting up a PMIS

5.1.                    Executive Vision

 

Standardized reporting. Need executive buyin that this in important and willingness to spend the time to make it happen.

 

Executive experience

Many are previous users of project to support project planning.

5.2.                    Implementation Competence

 

To be able to deliver to meet the vision. Create codes to support information processing. How do you want the detailed information to roll up into the accounting system? Create custom fields and reports

 


 

5.3.                    Microsoft Project interfaces

 

Global area

Use

Resource Pool

Link

Workload Analysis

Calendars

Views

Tables

Fields

Filters

 

 

 

 

Organizer

People

Equipment

Materials

Expenses

 

 

 

 

Use

Defines where resources are working and what their workloads are.

PM or Project administrator

 

Project administrator

Resource Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

Templates

 

Project files

 

 

Define standard Activities in projects and generic resource assignments.

 

Tasks

Dependencies

Assignments

Resources (maybe)

Consolidates project files attached to resource pool

PMO or Project Administrator

 

Project manager

 

Project administrator

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodology

 

Timesheets

 

Portfolio

Defines how we do things and what tasks occur in summary level tasks

 

 

 

Capture where people are actually working and updates project plans.

 

Identifies all projects in organization with rollup of current status

PMO and PMs

 

Team members

 

Executives

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

5.4.                    One or more project templates

 

Project templates contain stardard workbreakdown structures with generic resources assigned to tasks. Record for template is two days.

 

Project Templates

 

Coming up with your first template major challenge but imagine if plan is uncertain in senior project managerís head how complex it is in novice project managerís head.

 

 

 

6.   Steps to build a PM information system PMIS foundations

6.1.                    Understand organization challenges and requirements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

6.2.                    Create repository of up to date projects

 

 

6.3.                    Create templates

6.4.                    Create stub project plans for projects with no plans.

 

 

Record key information like start, finish and budget and key resources.

 

 

6.5.                    Summarize project portfolio

Create a master projects or consolidated projects.

 

 

 

6.6.                    Building custom views and reports

 

Build custom views using custom fields, tables and filters.Tables define which columns of data to display. Filters determine which rows to display. Custom fields store organization specific information. Custom fields are used in tables and filters.

 


 

6.7.                    Compare MSP desktop with Project Server

 

Microsoft Project desktop

Microsoft Project with Project server

Comments

Documents

Hyperlinks allow you to pull information from other sources.

Each project has Project library in Sharepoint with links between tasks and documents.

 

Risks and issues

Can be stored as task groups in Microsoft Project

Stored in Sharepoint

 

Difference in Project Server

Projects are another data object.

Can store information and report at the project level.

Typical project custom fields: Budget, sponsor, champion,

Store organization information with custom fields for assignments, tasks, resources and projects.

Use Custom fields in tables (as columns) and filters.

 

 

Example budget field because cost not equal budget.

Cost rolls up from assignments to tasks to projects.

Budget should be > cost or your project is over budget now.

Budget = Cost + contingency

Standardize codes for reporting.

 

 

 

Standardize resource definitions across projects to allow cross-project analysis.

Develop a resource naming convention. (first name, last name)

 

 

Setup custom fields

For tasks and resources

Cost (10)

Date (10)

Flag (30)

Number (30)

Text (30)

For tasks, resources and PROJECTS

 

Unlimited

Custom fields can included complex calculations.

Custom Outline Codes

 

 

Segmented, hierachical codes for sorting and grouping

 


 

7.   Compare Project Server with Standalone Microsoft Project.

[CompareProjectSErverWithPP]

 

Benefits and differences in capability between PP and PP with Project Server.

Project Professional stand alone

Project Professional with Project Server

Where are projects stored?

Each project stored in a single user file.

Projects stored in protected SQL Server repository

Report on multiple projects in organization

1. Create a master file pointing to multiple projects.

2. Consolidate all projects linked to a central resource pool

Project center views in PWA show all project you are allowed to see.

Can drill down to individual projects.

Concurrent access to a single project.

Windows allows only one user read-write access to a project file.

Projects checked out and administrator can check forgotten projects in.

Security for project data.

Only file level security defined by windows.

Comprehensive security for each user group. Critical data can be protected.

Resource definitions in shared Resource pool

Resource definitions shared via a local resource pool that can be stored on the network.

Resource definitions stored in the enterprise resource pool in Project Server.

Storage of custom objects such as calendars, views, tables, filters and fields.

Custom objects stored in local global on each work station.

Custom objects stored and protected in Enterprise Global.

Administration of custom objects.

Administration effort to synchronize global on individual workstations.

 

Local customization does not persist after each session = more consistent standard views and reports.

Distribution of custom views and fields

Only through shared objects file.

Each user responsible for keeping global upto date.

Keeps the project administrator very busy.

Through Enterprise global. Changes picked up when user opens Microsoft Project.

Sharing of custom objects between users and work stations to reduce workload and improve consistency.

Transferred between shared objects file. Hard to keep everyone synchronized.

PP loads new copy of Enterprise global each time it starts up so distribution of objects very fast.

 

 

8.   Install and Configure Project Server

 

8.1.                    Only Admininistrator Id after Project server installation

 

 


Administrator Id

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Project Server installed

 

 

 

 

 

8.2.                    Project Security

 

Project information system built on custom views and reports built on custom tables, fields and filters. Custom views not protected in desktop MSP. User could change or delete a component table, filter or view and change your standardization.

 

Project Server provides security so you can protect your custom views. User can only change views in current session.

 

Microsoft Project Resource pool not robust. Project Server overcomes this problem with a fully protected resource pool in a SQL Server database.

8.3.                    When to implement Project Server

 

Why not just implement project server? Project server requires extra resources to administer and manage it. Project Server reduces the amount of time an administrator has to spend. Project server requires a significant jump in knowledge. Requires organizational commitment. Requires several project administrator expertise.

 

When to implement with Project Server. A dozen project managers with multiple projects each.

 

Selecting applications to implement with Microsoft Project

 

 

9.   Overcome Challenges implementing PMIS

Challenges with implementing a PMIS with Microsoft Project

 

9.1.                    Organizational vision and commitment

You need organizational commitment.

 

9.2.                    Challenges to get projects into Microsoft Project

 

Planned project are key input to your PMIS otherwise GIGO. Challenge to get all projects planned in Microsoft Project. Some people resist Microsoft Project. Significant learning curve is a barrier. Combine training and coaching.

 

9.3.                    Change management.

Project managers donít like not being in control. The PMIS can reveal too much information about real project status. Harder to cook the books and present a rosy picture. Project managers passively resist introduction of standards. They resist changing the way of doing things when you try to introduce some standards.

 

9.4.                    Including unplanned projects in PMIS.

Not all projects in the organization will have project plans. How to include them in your information system?Some project managers believe that they can manage projects without plans. Create standard project stubs that may only have ten activities in them. Capture phase schedules and budgets in these abbreviated templates.

 

9.5.                    Interfacing to the accounting system.

Usually accountants collect timesheet information at a project level. This cannot be used to update the project progress. Accountants have power in the organization and they guard it jealously. Timesheets required to backup billings.

 

9.6.                    Lack of standardization in organization

Different projects may be using different project planning software. Hard to consolidate information from different systems.

 

 

9.7.                    Resistance to timesheets

Everyone fills out timesheets. Start pilot with managers first.

 

Not clear where to post time, better definition of assigned work. Should be a good match on what they are working on and items in the timesheet. Think about timesheet categories first when planning projects and designing templates. Items in timesheet should not be to detailed so you donít have to many categories in a timesheet.


 

10.         Brian Mullen, MSc, MCP

 

Brian Mullen, president of I.S.P. information systems planning corp teaches courses in ĎProject Management with Microsoft Projectí, Business Process improvement, information engineering, Systems Analysis and Web Design at the University of BC, Calgary, Victoria and Northern BC. He learned Project Management at World class companies like General Electric and Boeing Computer Servcies.

 

Brian is a Microsoft Certified Professional in Planning, Installing and Deploying Microsoft Enterprise Project Management Solution. He has installed and deployed Project Server at over six organizations including an architecture firm, a telecommunications firm, a manufacturing company and several IT shops.

 

Please contact me at:

Brian Mullen

I.S.P. information systems planning corp.

 

604.980.5550†† cell: 604.240.4542

 

brian.mullen@ispangle.com

 

www.ispangle.com

 

www2.cstudies.ubc.ca/~mullen