Some of the most significant time drains for a small business owner are finding and using the right tools correctly. Even if you have selected the best tool for the job, it's easy for the process and system setup to take more time and effort than anticipated.
You're already doing double duty as a business owner and project manager, so it's essential to avoid the heavy lifting of choosing your project management information system.
41% of companies that don't rely on a project management information system (PMIS) don't complete their projects on time.
In this article, we'll demystify project management information systems to get you on the right track. Don't let your PMIS become a time sink! Let us show you how to make your project management information system work for you, your team, and your projects.
What is a PMIS?
Project management information systems (PMIS) are software tools that help you organize and control the flow of all your project data and information.
Back in the day, before project management information systems, you'd be saddled with tedious and manual techniques for keeping track of your work.
For example, you may have had metal filing cabinets to hold all your documents. Or three-ring binders filled with copies of your portfolio and assets. And not to mention finding, sharing, and collaborating on that information.
Instead, now all of these documents and information (and processes) can live in one central, online hub.
Plus, the real value of a powerful PMIS lies beyond being a centralized repository for all your documents and information. 41% of companies without a PMIS don't complete their projects on time, so set yourself up for success by finding the right project management information system. A good PMIS includes the tools and workflows that help you gather, integrate, and collaborate on the outputs of your projects 24/7.
A PMIS can support the entire project, from high-level status reports to the most granular tasks.
Pros of using a PMIS
First and foremost, you want your PMIS to store and organize all project documents and data. With that, you can:
- Enable better collaboration: the project team can communicate and collaborate in one place.
- Foster transparency: easy-to-digest dashboards, metrics, and reports.
- Manage documents: store documents, communications, and research materials in a centralized location.
- Track work: real-time task progress increases visibility and oversight, so it's easier to see when your project needs course correction to stay on budget or within scope.
Challenges of using a PMIS
The biggest challenges you'll face once you've chosen a project management information system are implementation issues:
- Team resistance to change: You may need to work on team buy-in (for the PMIS) with workshops and soliciting feedback. A good strategy is to show how the PMIS will help ease existing pain points and save the entire team time in future projects.
- Setup investment (cost and time): Implementing a PMIS can be a time (and money) sink, so choosing the right tools and strategy for utilization is crucial. Make sure the PMIS you choose fits into your budget with some room to spare.
- Learning curve: Teams may need quite a bit of training to use a project management information system effectively. It's crucial to choose a system that's easy to use.
How to choose the right PMIS
The PMIS that's right for you should support all aspects of the project life cycle.
Your best bet is to find a system that relies on automation and smart tools.
Let's look at all the jobs the right project management information system can take on to make your life easier.
Do you know how much work has already been tackled on a specific task? How much more time is needed? This can help determine if a task will be finished on time, or if it needs to be flagged.
Viewing all work and the progress on that work is the biggest selling point of a PMIS. You should be able to pull the most accurate status updates (and ensure that work is progressing toward completion instead of getting lost in the cracks).
Project scheduling and planning are two of the hallmarks of project management, and they're crucial to keep an eye on as a small business owner.
You need to always have visibility into which teammates are working on which parts of the project, as well as timelines and task dependencies.
What if you need to hire some temp resources to stay on deadline? You'd want to make sure scheduling matches the workload needs. A strong PMIS can calculate working hours, burndown rates, and time to deadlines, so you don't have to create yet another Gantt chart manually.
Control and performance
How well is your business performing? Are you responding to feedback and making changes to improve? The key to your business's success is ensuring your work meets your high standards (and meets or exceeds customer expectations).
Your project management software application must be able to generate on-demand reports to help you keep an eye on project progress (and project cost management), while also letting you update the plan on the fly.
Say you're a small agency of six that creates ad copy for local businesses. Your customers love your work because not only does it get results, but it's also consistent. That's because not only does your experienced team work like a well-oiled machine, but your PMIS helps you keep a close eye on key performance indicators vs the project plan.
Set yourself apart from competitors with project quality management.
How well does your team collaborate? If only sporadically, is it because you and your team work in different software tools (messaging, e-mail, calendars)?
Collaboration is critical to ensure everyone can work together seamlessly and in real-time to stay on schedule and produce the best work possible. The best PMIS will allow seamless collaboration between teammates, all within one application. This could look like in-app messaging or tagging features to help everyone communicate without checking other applications.
When teams flip between multiple apps for communications, things can get confusing. Avoid that by choosing a project management information system that has collaboration capabilities built in.
4 popular project management information systems
While you could opt for a document organization system like spreadsheets, most project management teams opt for cloud-based, lightweight apps. Here are a few popular options.
When it comes to project management software, Motion has it all (plus some).
The intelligent calendar takes meetings and individual tasks and creates one optimized schedule to get it all done, saving hours of manually planning schedules each week.
The Motion task manager prioritizes and adds tasks to schedules to ensure everything can be completed by the deadline, replacing siloed project management tools.
Motion also adds projects and tasks to everyone's calendar. Because people check their calendars throughout the day, this keeps projects from being siloed in a separate platform.
Motion's meeting scheduler optimizes the team's time by scheduling fewer meetings at the most convenient times in less time. Motion integrates artificial intelligence to help you get 25% more done!
Forecast is a platform for projects, programs, resources, and budget management that provides on-demand reporting for business insights and monitoring performance.
Forecast has features for resource management, task tracking, and real-time report dashboards. You can quickly pull the most up-to-date burndown report, showing where the project is at in terms of budget and hours used, and export it (vs. manually creating spreadsheets).
In a way, Basecamp is the grandaddy of the lot (and less visually "noisy").
Basecamp is a simplified platform designed to replace communications, document storage, and task management apps with features like the card table and to-dos.
Their messaging functionality ensures everyone sees the same version of the conversation attached to a specific project, keeping everyone on the same page without digging through emails.
Jira is a popular agile project management platform that started as an issue-tracking system. Now it's a full-blown application that enables teams to dynamically plan, track, and manage their entire agile workflows and projects.
The Jira work management board features templates to keep the setup simple. The project management templates make it ideal for small businesses and make scaling from small to large, complex projects easier.
3 tips for making the most out of your project management information system
Here are three hot tips to make the most of your PMIS.
Take advantage of technology to streamline scheduling
When it comes to technology that makes task scheduling easier, digital calendars are just the tip of the iceberg.
There are lots of tools for scheduling that can help you build out project timelines, schedule meetings with video conferencing, and automatically adjust for time zone differences, but be sure to go with one that helps you automatically.
Take advantage of AI to save you time
AI can help you save time by automating (tedious) manual tasks.
Use apps that can automatically schedule meetings by finding mutual free time across multiple teammates' calendars so you don't have to hunt those time slots down manually.
Other ways to use AI to your advantage include creating meeting discussion summaries, freeing you up to give your entire focus to the meeting while it's happening, or automatically sending notifications when project milestones have been met.
Protect focus time
It’s no secret that everyone is more efficient when you have uninterrupted time to focus on tasks. Two popular methods are time blocking and the Pomodoro technique.
Time blocking is the time management method of blocking out chunks of time in your calendar to focus on a specific task or activity.
The Pomodoro Technique structures your focus time into bursts of 25 minutes where you focus on exactly one task and then break for 5 minutes.
No matter how use the PMIS to encourage and foster focus time for you and your team.
Leave traditional PMISs behind and use Motion to up your project management game
Don't let your project management information system become a time sink.
If you're looking for flexibility, personalization, and intelligent automation that can reduce the time investment in project setup and coordination throughout the project lifecycle, Motion can outperform a traditional PMIS.
Motion adapts schedules, responds to changes, and allocates resources more effectively than using multiple apps for your project management information system needs.
Motion uses AI to prioritize tasks and add them to the calendars of your teammates on the right day and time to ensure you hit your deadlines. Set your working hours and let Motion build a custom schedule, calculating weekly tasks and meetings within total working hours, saving your team from unnecessary overtime.
Motion's intelligent calendar also alerts you if you've overcommitted (and are in danger of not completing tasks by deadlines)
Motion can also protect your time (and sanity) by automatically blocking chunks of time for focused work.
Try Motion for free today to level up your project management processes.