Part 1: Motivation, History, Design


Developing a Standards Based Project Management Information System


By Jeremy C. Bellah, PhD

Director, Center of MIS Studies
University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma, USA




This article describes the development of a project management information system (PMIS). Using the design science research methodology, I created an artifact, and that artifact is the research contribution. In the following pages, I describe the motivation for creating the PMIS, the history of its development, and the details of its design. I conclude with future direction and pending questions. My hope is to spark interest and engage project management practitioners in the project.


Two specific motivating factors contributed to the development of the PMIS. The first came from my experiences with managing projects. Nearly twenty years ago, I worked as a programmer developing custom software for small- and medium-sized businesses. As I took on more responsibilities in that job, I managed projects. I found that I was very good at managing projects when I was the one doing the programming, but my project management success was intermittent when I managed a team of developers. After earning a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, I understood that many of my errors could have been solved by using good methodology. I saw tremendous value to the content and structure of the standards documented in “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge,” more commonly known as the PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Institute, 2017); however, the thought of implementing those standards was overwhelming. I was afraid it would take more time to create and organize the project management documentation than it was worth. What I needed was a tool to make it easier.

The second motivation emerged during my second career – higher education. Teaching project management to both graduate and undergraduate students was enjoyable, but I hated using Microsoft Project to support class projects. My students were more confused about advanced topics like earned value analysis after using the software than they were before. I realized I would need to either spend significant time teaching the tool or use a better tool. What I needed was a tool with a structure that matched the content I used in class.

History of Development

I decided to create the tool I needed. I was an experienced software developer, and I was far enough removed from that career to forget how much time and effort it takes to build even a simple application. Had I known how much it would take to build, I am not sure I would have started. I used the break between the fall semester in 2015 and the spring semester in 2016 to begin development. I hoped to use the PMIS for class projects in a graduate project management class that semester. It was not ready for use in classes in spring 2016, but I used it in fall 2016 to support both graduate and undergraduate project management classes. In addition, I conducted research with the students and found that they understood core concepts better when using the PMIS (Zimmer et al, 2019). That version of the PMIS had the following functionality:


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Editor’s note: This series of articles describes the development of a new standards-based project management information system by Dr. Jeremy Bellah at the University of Oklahoma.  Dr. Bellah is a Lecturer of MIS and the Director of the Center for MIS Studies at the University. He teaches courses related to programming, web development, data analysis, and project management.  As this is an ongoing development project, the author would welcome comments, feedback or suggestions. Please email your thoughts or ideas to jbellah@ou.edu

How to cite this article: Bellah, J. C. (2021). Developing a Standards Based Project Management Information System – Part 1: Motivation, History, Design; Series, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue I, January  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pmwj101-Jan2021-Bellah-developing-standards-based-PMIS-1-motivation-history-design.pdf



About the Author

Jeremy Bellah, PhD

Oklahoma, USA


Jeremy Bellah serves in a teaching position at the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business. He teaches classes related to programming, web development, data analysis, and project management. Through an experiential learning teaching style, he coaches and mentors students to develop into successful working professionals. He also serves as the Director of the Center for MIS Studies, an industry-academic partnership within the MIS Division. In this role, he interacts with industry partners of the Division to facilitate input on curriculum, collaborative research projects, and engagement with students.

Prior to earning a Ph.D. and pursuing academic positions, Jeremy developed information systems professionally. Most of the systems were custom applications built for small- and medium-sized businesses. This experience gives Jeremy the ability to relate to industry professionals and to teach from a perspective of practical expertise, rather than academic training. Dr. Bellah can be contacted at jbellah@ou.edu.