Several features of TAMIS make it uniquely suited to the needs of development projects:
First, TAMIS is available on the World Wide Web. This means that anyone who has Internet access can view TAMIS through a Web site, which can be publicly accessed or password protected. This greatly reduces access and network maintenance costs and means that multiple users in geographically dispersed locations can access and manipulate the same set of data for their own particular needs either through local or long distance phone lines, or through the Internet. Information is not limited to the staff in a central project office, but can be shared with regional offices, DAI clients, project counterparts and stakeholders, and the DAI home office.
Second, TAMIS can be fully customized. A Technical and Administrative Management Information System (a TAMIS) is the product of our work, but it comes in many packages with many variations. When we work with our field staff and home office staff to customize a TAMIS, we look to offer them a tool that meets their specific needs—a management solution. As such, TAMIS is not a standard, off-the-shelf product that we install and then walk away. It is, in fact, a living tool that evolves as our projects evolve. TAMIS was first installed on a DAI project in 1995, and today is the product of input from hundreds of people around the globe working on more than 100 different development activities.
Third, TAMIS is an integrated system. Users of TAMIS need to input data only once; those data can then be linked to other pieces of information in any number of ways. Data are entered during the course of one’s daily work routine and are automatically integrated into progress reports and other monitoring and information-sharing mechanisms. In addition, DAI is increasingly building links between TAMIS systems in the field and home office systems that process and communicate the same set of information.
Fourth, TAMIS provides DAI with a vehicle for sharing its standard processes and procedures with field staff. DAI templates and procedures are incorporated into TAMIS, ensuring that field staff does not have to reinvent the wheel with each new implementation. It is a tool that reflects the ideas and solutions that have come from our staff around the world and provides a foundation for sharing management “best practices” that have evolved out of DAI experience worldwide.
Finally, TAMIS is user-friendly. Because it is a customizable system, developers can work very closely with project staff to ensure the structure and the logic of the database mirrors the structure and logic of the project. Also, data entry and collection is not burdensome; while information may be used in many different ways, it is only entered once by those closest to the activity. In the words of one DAI Chief of Party, “[The TAMIS specialist] did an excellent job in reformatting the system from a workplan-based effort to one focused on the firms and reporting requirements. Importantly, she made it very user friendly - why even I can maneuver my way through..”