by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 4 February 2013
IT departments play an important role in organizations, whether large or small. They have projects and initiatives, which interface with practically every department or business unit. As a result, multiple projects have become a norm rather than the exception for most IT departments.
Managing these projects, however, is another matter. After all, there are only a limited number of ways in which you can synthesize and analyze messy excel worksheets.
This week, we will review Innotas - a cloud-based PPM solution that promises to take the headache and confusion out of portfolio management. We will review its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.
Before diving into the story behind Innotas, it is important to understand and deconstruct the need for a portfolio project management solution. Project budgets, time, and resources are important constraints for most project managers. In small businesses, where IT departments often work on several initiatives at the same time, project alignment with overall business goals can be an added constraint.
Melding these constraints into a cohesive and coherent picture is a difficult task and outlines the need for a portfolio management solution, which integrates multiple strands if your initiatives and projects and rolls them up to form a big picture view that tracks, measures and quantifies your efforts.
Innotas is designed as a project and portfolio management solution that targets a variety of businesses (small businesses to large corporations) and verticals. More importantly, Innotas is the only cloud solution that combines project management with application management. In simple words, this means that you can roll up performance and business-metrics related to your IT applications and evaluate their impact on your projects and portfolios.
As a portfolio management solution, Innotas is designed around three pillars: projects, resources, and applications. These three pillars balance the weight and complexity of your portfolio.
According to Kevin Kern, CEO at Innotas, the solution is primarily targeted at IT directors, chief information officers, and project management office employees. He adds that Innotas has customers across all major verticals including healthcare, government, and education. This, of course, does not mean that small businesses cannot use Innotas successfully. According to Kern, Innotas' foundational capabilities coupled with its configurability is a major plus point for small businesses. "Because we deploy all customers to the same code base, all customers enjoy the same functionality without concerns for version control," he says. "Innotas is easily scalable for businesses from ten users to thousands of users."
As I mentioned earlier, Innotas follows a modular approach to tackling portfolio management. Right at the top of this approach is the portfolio, a collection of your initiatives or projects. For all intents and purposes, however, Innotas loads these projects as a single portfolio view. This view provides both a macro- and micro-perspective; you can view details by drilling into individual projects or you can view overall portfolio highlights such as project duration, SDLC phase and, even, an excellent GANTT chart view.
The application management feature is a unique and thoughtful complement to the portfolio management module. It enables you to measure, track, and correlate portfolio health with individual applications that make up a portfolio. You can do this by scoring individual applications, which, in turn, helps you measure return on investment for each applications. In addition, you can build relationships between applications.
Overarching the Innotas feature set is the Innotas process, which combines multiple modules together. The Innotas process specifies how different elements of the solution come together to help you manage portfolios. In addition, it generates data and provides visibility into the pipeline that helps IT managers define an overall strategy and direction for their department. Briefly, requests from customers or stakeholders initiate the portfolio management process. Each request is analyzed, categorized, and triggers portfolio management actions.
According to Kern, the solution's next phase of evolution consists of IT governance. "Having a PPM system in place enables IT management to align and prioritize work while managing and measuring people, time, and money," he says. "Ultimately, it allows IT departments to report to executives regarding their contributions to a business' bottom line."
Despite the underlying complexity of multiple projects and portfolios, the application's designers have done a great job of simplifying the interface. They have adopted a grid-based approach (which is similar to Excel but much simpler) to display project and portfolio data. At the same time, Innotas has a tabbed interface that enables users to toggle between different types of data. For example, you can toggle between your application and project data or you can generate analytics using Reports or customize data using the Dashboard.
You can also color code projects with alert levels. This helps managers immediately identify projects with constraint overruns. In addition, the solution also contains a ranking feature that helps identify projects that need critical attention.
Innotas has a fully functional community portal. The portal is a combination of social, support and job postings. Kern says customers can use the portal to interact with other Innotas users and share stories, ideas, and solutions.
I would definitely recommend it. Innotas takes the complexity of portfolio management and drills it down to a sophisticated simplicity. Comprehensive integration with third-party applications and an extensible API further strengthen the case for this solution. Highly recommended.