Five Components of the Project Management Information System
Based on the above requirements the consultants developed five modules for assisting the project management team to improve the quality of the information used in management planning, control and reporting. The design principle using rapid prototyping techniques stressed the ease of use, use of existing formats and procedures while requiring the minimum of effort in maintaining the systems. The following paragraphs briefly describe the components that were developed and adopted. Efforts will be made in the future to integrate the components into a single system when the organization's local area network (LAN) is operational. A flowchart of the system is shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: PMIS Flowchart
1. Project Performance Indicator Tracking System
The project managers are required to report to the World Bank the status of each Performance Indicator from the project's Hierarchy of Objectives and management actions taken towards their achievement. The report must be on a semi annual basis and in an agreed format. For the past few years, this report was compiled using a word processor. As the report has a column on comments by the project manager on the status of each indicator, the project manager had to devote considerable time in the production of this report.
The new Project Performance Indicator Tracking System (PPITS), stores the indicators in a database format, and codifies the status into five outcomes: Accomplished Successfully, Being Achieved (on course), Experiencing Minor Problems (being addressed), Experiencing Major Problems and Rescheduling of Target Date Required, and Not Yet Due. With a graphic interface in MS Access, the project manager updates the status of each indicator as events occur, inputs the comments, and records the management actions undertaken. At the end of each reporting period, the required report is produced automatically (an internal feature of the system) with all the up-to-date information.
2. Procurement Planning and Monitoring System (PPMS)
Procurement is a major part of the project activities. The procurement activity involves a number of discrete steps to be followed in sequence leading from development of specifications through bidding to contract signing with the suppliers who win the bid. The acquisition of goods and services essential to the implementation of the project will be delayed if the timetable of events is not followed. However, in many projects, procurement staffs simply follow the process in a step-by-step manner, finishing one step before tackling the next, with neither systematic planning nor tracking.
A good estimate of when project goods and services will become available can only be done when a contract is signed. The revised list of dates will be automatically updated if a constituent step for any item slips. Since the different methods of procurement for works, goods and services have different steps the PPMS uses different milestones for each type. It also produces a list of procurement activities for a specified time period, thus providing a calendar of all procurement activities required for the next month. This serves as a reminder of critical procurement tasks that the project staff has to perform on a day-to-day basis.
3. Disbursement Planning and Tracking System (DPTS)
With the recent introduction of the Loan Administration Change Initiative (LACI), project management units of World Bank supported projects have to furnish the Bank with accounting reports in a specified format. The tables in these reports require listing disbursements made in each quarter and the forecast of payments for the following quarter. The DPTS is a system designed to enable the planning of the payment schedule of each contract for works, goods and services and entering the dates of actual payments against this schedule. The system automatically analyzes the data and produces the reports in the required format. Together with the Procurement Planning and Monitoring System (PPMS), all the required LACI reports can be produced directly from the database.
4. Procurement Activity Tracking System (PATS)
Apart from the major contracts for the building of new schools and the major consultancies, each project management unit also undertakes a number of relatively small contracts for furnishing the new schools and for purchasing school supplies. These shopping activities include the following steps: Finalizing the initial specifications; contacting suppliers for price quotations; negotiating specification modifications, discounts and delivery dates; receiving shipments or verifying deliveries in terms of quantities and quality; and authorizing payments by the accountant.
Although the process for procuring an individual item is not complicated, when the number of items required for a particular date becomes large, there is a need for a database to keep track of the status of placement of orders and of deliveries so that suppliers can be paid promptly. Notification of authorization for payment is at present done off line, involving printing a list for payments authorized or passing a diskette to the Accountant.
5. Project Planning and Scheduling System (PP&SS)
A complete critical path based project plan and schedule was developed using MS
project. A portion of this plan is shown in Figure 3.
The first level of indenture is the WBS of the project. The schedule for the items
of procurement, transferred from the PPMS, is presented on one line in the CPM chart
using the rollup technique in MS Project.