Part 4: Complete Redesign


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 is one of a series of articles that 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 first article, I described the overall development process. In subsequent articles, I describe in depth specific functions in the system. In the following pages, I describe the process of completely redesigning the PMIS. I conclude with future direction and pending questions. My hope is to spark interest and engage project management practitioners in the project.

To develop the PMIS, I used a low-code development tool called Mendix. This allowed me to develop the functionality much more quickly than I would have been able to otherwise. Additionally, it allows me to show program logic visually in these articles. Key portions of program logic will be displayed where appropriate.

Game-Changing Design Change

The PMIS is designed to mirror the standards in “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge,” more commonly known as the PMBOK® Guide (Project Management Institute, 2021); therefore, the functionality is described according to the content in that standard. The first three articles in my series explained the overall design of the system (Bellah, 2021), project schedule functions (Bellah, 2021), and project cost functions (Bellah, 2021).

Through the process of building the system, writing these articles, and soliciting feedback from professionals, I recognized opportunities to improve the system. After writing the last article, I decided it was time to do it. While I thought I could make significant improvements, I had no idea how impactful the process would be.

When I redesigned the system, I began with the data model. By analyzing the old model, I noticed that three entities had many of the same attributes. Additionally, each entity had a one-to-many relationship with an entity used to store daily cost information. Figure 1 shows the old model. Attributes were not included to save space.

Figure 1: Old data model

In addition to duplicated attributes and entities, I created a non-persistable (exists in memory – not in the database) entity to display performance metrics that included both WBS Items and Activities. This was difficult and inefficient, as I had to write code to create the output in memory rather than pulling from a database table.

The solution – inheritance! Figure 2 shows the new data model. The Project, WBS Item, and Activity entities all inherit attributes and relationships from the Project Item entity. Figure 3 shows the actual Project Item entity to illustrate how many attributes are shared by the three other entities.


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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 4: Complete Redesign, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IX, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/pmwj109-Sep2021-Bellah-Developing-Standards-Based-PMIS-part4-complete-redesign.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.

To view other works by Dr. Bellah, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/jeremy-bellah-phd/