PMPeople PMIS: Project Status Report

Last April 2017 we started in PMPeople the most exciting project I have lived in many years. Stakes are high. The main project goal is to make it possible for Project Managers to use a freemium web and mobile product to manage professionally their projects, in collaboration with the rest of stakeholders, following the standards published by PMI and ISO. The product must be tailored to 10 different roles and integrate with other tools for scheduling, document sharing, task management and instant messaging.

This project is making me continuously learn in two main ways. Since I have to manage the software project, I have been able to practice and learn deeply the Scrum framework and make up my mind on tooling. On the other hand, and the most interesting for me, we have designed a data model with more than 100 entities to cover nearly all use cases organizations need to apply when managing projects, programs and portfolios, from the team member’s time sheets and expenses to the program financial management, including how to connect projects through procurement, how to make stakeholders submit change requests, anonymous comments, etc.

Right now, after countless reviews, we can say most of features are clear –but we still want change things after each demo– and release plan represented above is solid –now we are in the middle of release #3–.

I will explain below the main goals of each release. Before I want to explain why we decided to name this product with the term PMIS.

Why do we call this product a PMIS?

PMIS stands for Project Management Information System, but also Program Management Information System and Portfolio Management Information System. We want PMPeople PMIS unifies management not only around projects, but also programs and portfolios. Let’s see how PMI® defines the term PMIS.

According to The PMBOK® Guide:

A Project Management Information System (PMIS) provides access to information technology (IT) software tools, such as scheduling software tools, work authorization systems, configuration management systems, information collection and distribution systems, as well as interfaces to other online automated systems such as corporate knowledge base repositories:

  • Automated gathering and reporting on key performance indicators (KPI) can be part of this system.
  • A PMIS includes scheduling software that provides the ability to track planned dates versus actual dates, to report variances to and progress made against the schedule baseline, and to forecast the effects of changes to the project schedule model.
  • A PMIS is often used to monitor the three EVM dimensions (PV, EV, and AC), to display graphical trends, and to forecast a range of possible final project results.
  • A PMIS can include resource management software that can help plan, organize, and manage resource pools and develop resource estimates. Depending on the sophistication of the software, resource breakdown structures, resource availability, resource rates, and various resource calendars can be defined to assist in optimizing resource utilization.
  • A PMIS provides a set of standard tools for the project manager to capture, store, and distribute information to internal and external stakeholders with the information they need according the communications plan.
  • A PMIS can include schedule, resource, and cost software to ensure that agreed-upon risk response plans and their associated activities are integrated into the project alongside other project activities.

According to el The Standard for Portfolio Management, Third Edition, section 2.4:

A Portfolio Management Information System (PMIS) consists of the tools and techniques used to gather, integrate, and disseminate the outputs of the portfolio management processes. It is used to support aspects of the portfolio processes and may include both manual and automated systems. These systems support overall organizational visibility, standardization, measurement, and process improvement, and can facilitate effective decision making by providing the organization with key performance metrics and target collection, analysis, and reporting. Automated tools may include commercial project portfolio management (PPM) applications, an information collection and distribution system, and web interfaces to other online automated systems to consolidate the portfolio components’ status. The portfolio management information system is often a collection of spreadsheets rather than automated tools. An effective PMIS enables the portfolio manager to define, analyze, design, produce, and manage information systems to support a successful portfolio, and includes tools and processes such as:

  • Software tools,
  • Document repository and document version control systems,
  • Change or configuration management systems,
  • Risk database and analysis tools,
  • Financial management processes and systems,
  • Earned value management processes and tools,
  • Communication management processes and tools, and
  • Other knowledge management tools and processes required to support portfolio management.

And finally, according to The Standard for Program Management, Third Edition, section 6.6.2:

Effective program management requires the efficient and effective exchange of information between the program management, project management, portfolio management, and program governance functions of an organization. It requires that an organization’s stakeholders have access to current information important to the program. Managing such information becomes a formidable task, especially in organizations pursuing numerous programs, or programs that are complicated or complex. An organization’s program governance function may support their organization’s program management capabilities by establishing Program Management Information Systems (PMIS) that enable collection, access, reporting, and analysis of information relevant to the management of programs and projects within the portfolio.

Release Plan

  • Release #1: Mobile App version 0.1 for iOS and Android: With these versions we have convinced many colleagues on that is possible to manage portfolios, programs and projects with a mobile application, more oriented to read than to enter data, and of course without graphic features that are to be devoted to web channel. We decided to invest in both major mobile platforms as a result of this survey we made on Twitter.
  • Release #2: Web version 0.1 to manage Projects, Programs and Portfolios (PPP): With the mobile application we mainly validated menus design. Then it was the time to develop around the different roles and how organizations can group projects in different ways: on business units, programs and portfolios.
  • Release #3: Web version 0.2 to launch the Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Currently we are providing a PMO service in PMPeople for a customer which has a series of projects of engineering, procurement, construction and software, all together included as part of one program. They are using Microsoft Project for scheduling, Asana for tasks, Slack for messages and OneDrive for document sharing. PMPeople PMIS will import baseline-planned-actual Microsoft Project’s dates for milestones and control accounts, and additionally complete the project governance required by top management, project staff management, and the control of timesheets and expenses.
  • Release #4: Freemium Web version 1.0: We will go live to general public starting with the web channel. Users will be able to manage their projects, programs and portfolios for free in the “organization” PMPeople, here they will not use the role PMO –since they will see all the organization projects– and the role Resource Manager –since they will see team members’ confidential data–. Main features on this release are related to billing and Owner role. When somebody upgrades to premium, this have to be simple and immediate, transparently moving all his projects from PMPeople organization to his new own one:

Similarly, we want the reverse process to revert to free plan be equally simple. The main goal is to provide good service: all freemium products must focus customer first, if this is doing properly, then sustainability comes naturally as a consequence of customer satisfaction:

  • Release #5: Freemium Mobile App version 1.0: In this release, we will update iOS and Android platform to be a true reflection of the web functionality web. We will add first exclusive features for the web channel –reports, dashboards, financial management for programs, value management for portfolios, etc.–

Currently we are in the middle of release #3. We want start release #4 during the first quarter 2018. If we keep using our own funding, we estimate release #5 finished on late 2018. Of course, if we get external funding we will speed the whole thing up.

The period coming after launching the freemium web version –once completed release #4– will be the key phase of this project. Then we will devote 2–3 months to validating our assumptions following the Lean Startup method.

Precisely, we are very interested in validating our growth hypothesis. Since every project is a highly collaborative environment, we think free plan could get quite viral:

Can we reasonably assume we will have a monthly virality of 1:50 factor? With 18 new prospects per new user each month?

Honestly, we don’t know yet. Quoting Eric Ries, we will have to iterate many of these 3 step cycles: 1) build the idea; 2) measure the product; and 3) learn from data.

This article is also available in Spanish