A world of ever-increasing complexity can leave employees struggling to draw meaningful insights from a flood of data. Obtaining the right data and filtering it into useful platforms and dashboards are essential steps to maintain order.
Project management information systems (PMIS) are a class of software applications used in project execution that organize data coming from multiple sources, control the flow and enable individuals to make methodical, informed decisions. Several vendors have developed PMIS packages, both cloud-based and on-premise, that are commercially available.
PMIS is increasingly being recognized as a valuable tool across a variety of industries, but it is rarely a simple matter of selecting an off-the-shelf solution and instantly gaining insights. Each implementation should be configured to address the unique needs of a company.
To achieve those efficiencies, one needs to consider both the technical and functional requirements ahead of implementation:
- Technical requirements involve studying the current enterprise architecture to better understand the operating environment; consideration is also given to performance reliability and security.
- Functional requirements involve determining what information the business needs from the system — and specifying the intended behavior of the system being developed — to fuel improvements.
Understanding the current state is essential to define success for the future state. Business process analysis is a valuable technique for considering the context before engaging in a system implementation.
Here are five key reasons that conducting a business process analysis should be a prerequisite to a system implementation:
- Identify inefficiencies: Business processes should be reviewed from start to finish, flagging sections where things go wrong. Successful technology implementation depends on avoiding lags and redundancies and eliminating bottlenecks. Inefficiencies can lead to increased costs, delays and errors.
- Improve workflows: Determining which are the most important tasks, decision points and dependencies will enable optimization efforts. Eliminating activities that do not add value will help improve efficiency and productivity.
- Define system requirements: This begins with understanding the current-state processes, then comparing them against the technical and functional requirements of the PMIS. What new features are needed? What are the personas or roles that will use the tools? Defining personas helps establish what each group needs the PMIS to do. The ultimate goal here is to establish the necessary system requirements to support the future-state processes.
- Mitigate risks: It is vital to eliminate red flags. Are systems connected and cross-communicating properly to avoid data loss? Have all potential delays, challenges and non-value-adds in the business processes been identified? The business process analysis can help organizations develop contingency plans to address the relevant risks and achieve successful implementation.
- Optimize resource utilization: Part of a current-state analysis is mapping out current processes. All users and stakeholders are identified, along with important tasks and decision points. The visualization illustrates how data is moving through various systems and how they are interconnected. Resources could be people or technologies — optimization involves examining individuals’ touch-points and looking for redundant systems or tools. Streamlined workflows help businesses use their resources wisely and for maximum benefit.
Business process analysis is a useful exercise to deploy in many business contexts, whether they involve technology or not. Using it in advance of making a major commitment to a PMIS implementation is a smart way to optimize that investment and improve business outcomes. Additionally, business process analysis helps individuals think about each component discretely from the earliest stages of the process, thereby reducing risks, roadblocks, challenges and schedules on the road to successful implementation.