Best Online Project Information Management (PIM) data management for any system solutions
Project Information Management (PIM)
Project Information Management is focused on managing large volumes of information generated by a specific project. Throughout the life of a project, a huge volume of drawings, e-mails, and other documents might be created. Effectively managing project documentation has various commercial and contractual implications. During the project, and following completion, easy access to drawings, documents, spreadsheets, certificates and emails represents a substantial asset, a key component in any Project Information Management solution. Typically, less formal Project Information Management solutions such as intranets and extra nets are used. While they are functional, they typically suffer from issues such as:
- No drawing on document file metadata making searching an onerous task
- Lost files or inaccurate filing, making it difficult to find drawings, documents and contracts
- Doubt as to which version represents the final document or which was the pertinent revision relative to the specific enquiry
- No audit trail of the drawing or document changes and to whom they were distributed to
- Omission of security and access controls
- Individuals not following standard procedures when archiving project documents
Formal Project Information Management solutions provide a secure environment for all project communication. This ultimately ensures that all drawings, documents and correspondence can easily be accessed with a comprehensive audit trail. This allows organisations to create management reports, manage risk and make decisions more quickly and effectively. Project & portfolio management software like WorkOtter makes it easy to institute effective Project Information Management procedures.
Project Information Management Plan
Detailed planning is critical to the development of usable, high quality information deliverables that meet the needs of internal and external information users. The project team needs to discuss the content and structure of the overall project information plan. In this plan, the team will analyse the purpose, audience, design issues, media, technology constraints, and development environment for the project. The overall project information plan also includes initial specifications for each individual information output. The Project Information Management Plan is a document that defines the actions and responsibilities to manage project information. Developing a plan is a very important step in determining the effort and time that will be required to collect and distribute project information effectively. Management of information is a critical component in the overall management of a project. A project’s ability to provide accurate and timely information to a variety of audiences may significantly how the project affects team members working on it, management, and the beneficiaries of the project and outside funding agencies. In addition, the quality and accuracy of information reported to donors and other governmental entities can affect a project’s funding, a project’s credibility and the public’s perception of a project.
A project information management strategy should be developed, which will specify how information is created or collected, maintained, reported and stored. This strategy and the project’s information management system should be designed to provide answers to two basic questions: Is information being collected, processed and stored? Is information being reported and distributed appropriately? All projects have an information management system; it may be informal and undocumented or formal and documented. The management of project information should be incorporated into the project’s comprehensive information management system, which includes all of a project’s information needs. A project’s information management system should address the use of both technological and human resources. Successful Information Management Systems usually require creation of a formal, documented information management plan. Elements of such a plan describe:
- Information Requirements – What information must be available and to whom is this information available?
- Information Collection – How will information be collected?
- Information Analysis – How will the information be edited, tested and analysed?
- Reporting Information – How will the information be disseminated?
- Historical Information – How will historical information be maintained?
- Access to Information – How will information be secured from unauthorized access?
- Personnel – The roles, responsibilities, qualifications and training of the personnel necessary to implement the plan
- Technology – The technology necessary to support the plan’s goals and objectives
- Internal Controls – The internal controls necessary to ensure the plan is working.
Creating an information management plan is not a one-time task, as the maintenance of the plan is a dynamic process. The plan should be constantly revised as circumstances dictate to incorporate a changing environment and to address existing problems. For example, the internal controls established by the plan may indicate that some parts of the plan are not working. Also, information and technology needs change over time as the available technology changes. With a documented plan, improvements or changes can be identified and readily incorporated into the system. As an element of this dynamic process, the information management plan and all subsequent changes should be made available to all stakeholders affected by the plan. A project should encourage those who create and use information to become involved in correcting and improving the project’s information management system.
Defining the Information Requirements
To develop an information management plan, a project must first determine its information needs. All information needs are determined by the types of information it must maintain and the users who require access. A project’s best interests are served with a thorough understanding of the needs of all internal users and as many external users as possible (other agencies, the public, and so on). Such identification allows for customization of the plan based on specific requirements. A project’s data needs are dictated by several things including the few that will be listed below:
- Legal and regulatory requirements imposed by donor and local governments.
- Requirements imposed internally by headquarters and regional management.
- Beneficiary and partner demands for information
- Internal operations
Each of the above areas should be examined in detail to specify the project’s information needs. In this examination, consideration should be given to both short-term and long-term needs and both regular ongoing and temporary needs.
These requirements should be gathered from beneficiaries, partners,government agencies, other organizations. For example, staff members responsible for reporting to donors will be most familiar with the requirements of these donors. For internal operations, each staff member’s data requirements are dictated by the staff member’s responsibilities. The person most familiar with the job will be able to specify the information needed to do the job efficiently and accurately. The increasing reliance on site-based decision making generally means that more information must be made available to more people. By including staff from all areas of a project in the development of the information management plan, one increases the chances of the plan’s success. After these requirements are gathered, it is important that it should beanalysed and compared to the project’s current efforts. In particular, a project should look for duplication of effort (for example, multiple staff members citing responsibility for reporting identical information), requested information needs that do not match a staff member’s level of authority and obvious omissions in the project’s information needs. The project needs to develop a document that details the project information needs, both internally and external. The document should identify the people that need the information, when they need them, how they need it and what uses will be given to the information. The project can use this matrix to rank the priorities and relevance of all information needs.
Benefits of Project Information Management (PIM)
- It improves efficiency in the sense that an effective project information management system (PIMS) creates one place to access and share information in every way it deems possible, it also reduces the rekeying of information across documents and spreadsheets.
- It reduces risk. There will be an audit trail of all documents and e-mails, and version control ensures that the right documents or drawings are worked with at certain points in time. With these things in place, projects are most definitely better secure.
- Truly integrated working with transparency across all projects and teams
- Easy access to information whenever required
- Project Information Management allows teams to work together very collaboratively—utilising user-friendly, centralised file sharing systems that promote exchanging information amongst team members undertaking the project.
- Project Information Management gets rid of the administrative and data management tasks that are highly time demanding. With that weight off and time back on the calendar, goals can be accomplished within the time set and within the allotted budget—ensuring client satisfaction.
- Project Information Management provides the tools ultimately needed to manage a business in the smartest way—creating room for improved efficiency, reduced operating costs and increased productivity.
- Also with a good information management system, project performance can be monitored in real time.
- An effective project information management system means that there will be a central repository for everything needed for the project, business, etc. This basically makes the whole project or business truly paperless—a paperless office.