Building a Working Definition of a Project Management System
Merriam-Webster includes two definitions of a “system” which are applicable to Project Management Systems:
“a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole,” and
“an organized or established procedure”
Let’s expand on these two definitions to build a working definition of a Project Management System.
What group of items make up an interdependent project management system?
Fundamentally, a project management system includes people, processes, information, and tools. People interact with one another and are the primary agents who implement processes, exchange information, and use tools. Processes contain standard, repeatable procedures for performing work.
Information is captured, transmitted, stored, and analyzed to facilitate communication and increase knowledge. Tools, ranging from paper-based documents, to digital project management information systems, support and expedite the implementation of the processes and the exchange of information.
What role do standard and repeatable procedures play in a project management system?
Standard and repeatable procedures are the foundation on which project management systems are built. Standardization supports repeatability, dependability, and measurability. Once a procedure is documented and tested, it can be implemented by multiple people to generate consistent results.
The detailed step-by-step procedures in a process and the measured results also provide input into continuous improvement initiatives. Continuous improvement initiatives can use this input to make either incremental changes or significant step changes that may involve building a new process.
What is the difference between a Project Management System and a Project Management Information System (PMIS)?
A project management system involves the interacting of an interdependent collection of people, processes, information, and tools. A PMIS is a tool that is used as part of a project management system to support and expedite the implementation of processes and the exchange of information.
Aligning people, processes, and information precede the selection and implementation of tools. Although it is easy to be seduced by PMIS software functions and features, it is better to first define the requirements to support the implementation of processes and then to select and implement the PMIS software.
With this working definition of a project management system, future posts will delve into the five primary project management systems: quality management, scope management, schedule management, cost management, and risk management.