Web-Based Project Management Tools

About the cover: An SwRI team is developing the New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission to explore the solar system’s only planet not yet visited by a spacecraft. SwRI’s action item management system is a key component of the New Horizons program.

With more than 25 years of experience in managing large complex projects, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI®) brings all the advantages of Internet-based applications to project managers, including:

  • Access through any web browser; other client software is not required because the system resides on SwRI’s web server
  • Role-based access to system functions, from guests to system managers
  • E-mail based reminder functions
  • File-upload capabilities for detailed tracking and documentation

Additional advantages to project managers and their teams include:

  • Save time and project resources with real-time data access, eliminating time-consuming paper chases
  • System support done by SwRI, including system maintenance, data backups, software patches, and information security

The SwRI Project Information Management System (PIMS) has received excellent feedback and commendations from NASA review panels and teams. A NASA proposal review team cited the use of this system as a contributing factor to a winning proposal. Space projects using the PIMS include:

  • Cassini (INMS)
  • Deep Impact
  • AIM
  • Orbital Express
  • New Horizons
  • HPCA
  • NPP
  • MEGA
  • IBEX
  • LAMP
  • MMS
  • Juno

In addition to scheduling, many project management activities are critical for project success. The SwRI-developed Project Information Management System (PIMS) is an integrated web-based project management tool that allows project managers to coordinate and complete many of these activities online, using any web browser. PIMS supports many functions, such as action item tracking, risk management, online checklists, and document and image management.

The SwRI PIMS contains nine software modules. Eight are project management modules and one is an interface module, which transfers select PIMS data to scheduling programs, such as Primavera® and MS Project.

Action Item Tracking

  • Tracks action items online using a combination of e-mail and the web. Effective tracking of action items is essential for project success.
  • Sends e-mail notifications before, on, and after the action item due date, as well as when the action item status has changed.

EEE Parts Management

  • Manage electrical, electronic, and electromechanical (EEE) parts through the complete mission lifecycle.
  • Includes functions to manage assemblies, update radiation and screening data, track GIDEP alerts, perform approval processes, and generate reports.

Risk Management

  • Tracks project risks and risk mitigation plans online, with e-mail reminders as the risk due date approaches.
  • Uses a combination of consequence, likelihood, and mission ranking factors to set and display risk priorities and create risk reports.

Non-Conformance Reports

  • Specifically designed to replace the many inefficiencies of a paper non-conformance process.
  • Uses an e-mail approval process that can be configured for internal and external approval authorities.

Checklist Manager

  • Allows project teams to manage any type of checklist. Examples include design review checklists, travelers, instrument/spacecraft operations checklists, software development lifecycle checklists, and to-do lists.
  • Stores checklists as templates or in interactive mode. Interactive checklists are updated online and show progress toward task completion.

The PIMS Action Item Manager has proven extremely useful during project design reviews.

Document and Image Manager

  • Provides an online document storage system that includes optional revision control, and can be configured for different user access levels.
  • Stores project images online with searchable titles and text descriptions. Includes an image thumbnail viewer.

Project Logbook

  • Saves date-relevant project information online – excellent for recording information in all project
  • Supports a high degree of customization. Project managers can create any number of custom categorization dropdown menus that are also searchable.

Custom Module

  • Allows project managers to define their own completely custom tracking system, using any number of text, dropdown, date, label, and text area fields in any order.
  • Includes e-mail notification, file upload, file download, and custom form management functions.

Scheduling Interface

  • Transfers action items, risks, and non-conformance reports from PIMS into Primavera® and MS Project. Other data sets will also be available for transfer in future versions.

The SwRI web-based PIMS allows the user to manage projects online while the Institute maintains the software and databases.


This brochure was published in February 2007. For more information about Web-Based Project Management Tools, contact Robert Thorpe, manager, Space Support Systems and Software, Space Science and Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Fax (210) 543-0052.

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