Project portfolio management (PPM) software improves an organization's visibility into project performance and resource utilization.
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Project portfolio management (PPM) software helps businesses identify the projects that are most likely to achieve desired business outcomes. These solutions come with functionalities such as project portfolio management, resource management and risk analysis.
In this buyers guide, we will help small-business buyers understand the core features of a project portfolio management solution, typically considered an enterprise-grade tool, and other top considerations to keep in mind when evaluating the software.
Here's what we'll cover:
Project portfolio management (PPM) software improves an organization's visibility into project performance and resource utilization. These solutions offers detailed project analysis and reporting, which help managers identify high-value projects and potential risks that can prevent a project from meeting business objectives.
PPM solutions are designed for businesses managing multiple projects, at a time, with a large workforce that is distributed across different locations. These solutions focus on helping businesses effectively manage resources and prioritize projects.
Small businesses should carefully analyze their need for a PPM solution. Start by understanding the two types of PPM software categories mentioned below:
Full-suite PPM software: These are advanced tools that help businesses manage an exhaustive portfolio of projects and offer detailed reporting plus collaboration features. These tools help teams identify project bottlenecks, analyze resource utilization, communicate with project stakeholders, schedule project tasks and track project budgets.
Specialized PPM software: These tools are like slimmed-down versions of full-suite solutions. They offer specialized functionalities that help project managers improve specific aspects of project portfolio management such as reporting or collaboration. Conversely, these solutions can offer industry-specific functionalities, such as templatized project dashboards for tracking IT portfolio projects.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Is your PPM solution a full-suite solution serving to diverse project portfolio management needs or does it focus on improving certain aspects such as reporting or team collaboration?
PPM tools can be deployed in three different ways: on-premises, cloud-based or hosted. Small businesses need to analyze present needs and future requirements when deciding on the right software deployment.
Let's look more closely at the three types of PPM deployment options:
Vendors hosts the software in their servers
Software pricing follows a subscription-based, pay-as-you-go model
Software feature upgrades, data storage, security and maintenance are handled by the vendors
You host the software in your organization's servers
Software pricing is a one time, typically large, license fee
Software maintenance, data backup and feature enhancements are your responsibility
You pay a monthly fee to the vendor, or third-party vendor, who takes care of software hosting.
Software pricing is a per-user, license fee
Software feature customization is your responsibility, while vendor takes care of storage and upkeep
Key questions to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the different software deployments you offer and how are they priced?
PPM solutions offer a wide-range of features that go beyond the scope of traditional project management solutions. Along with planning projects or tracking tasks to completion, these solutions also allow businesses to analyze the impact of projects, build workflows based on a prioritized-list of projects, effectively handle employee workloads and boost team collaboration.
To help you understand the common features of a PPM solution, we have created a quick list of their core functionality:
Portfolio management: Allows you to categorize and prioritize projects based on parameters such as project objectives, constraints, departments, budget and so on.
Portfolio management in Planview (Source)
Risk management: Create risk management plans and approval workflows to capture issues in existing projects or manage demands for new projects. Estimate how real-time issues and new demands will affect project outcomes.Identifying project risks in KeyedIn Projects
Resource Management: Optimize project staffing by analyzing employee skill sets and capacity. Plan and schedule resources by identifying high-priority projects.
Resource management in Sciforma
Project management: Create project schedules and track completion of tasks or time employees spend on specific tasks and projects.
Project management dashboard in Workfront
Collaboration: Centralize team communication by allowing team members to connect with each other, and share project documents, via online workspaces.
Project collaboration dashboard in Clarizen
Reporting: View and analyze reports, such as project budgets, project timelines and project KPI achievement rates on visual dashboards. Export this data for further analysis.
Viewing reports in Genius Project
Besides the common features listed above, small businesses should also evaluate ancillary features such as:
Offers simple processes to add new users to the system or remove existing ones. Follows this up with seamless integration with your existing tools such as, so that you can directly import employee data without any manual work.
Provides mobile applications for easy access and offers intuitive interfaces, such as a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editor and drag-and-drop dashboard for planning projects or organizing tasks.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the key features of your solution and what's the typical training time required for novice users to get familiar with the tool?
However, small businesses typically use simple tools, such as document management systems instead of a CMS. Keeping such use cases of small businesses in mind, we have listed below two important integrations to check for in a PPM solution.
Document management systems (DMS) improve team collaboration, helping project members centrally access organizational information. The integration allows teams to access product roadmaps, process manuals, checklists and other project-related documents, stored in the CMS, from within the PPM solution.
IT service management (ITSM) software helps business create task workflows to manage new demands and issues that arise when executing projects. The integration helps teams or customers (in the case of client-based projects) to raise a ticket, using the PPM solution, and track its status.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the third-party integrations that your tool offers currently and how do you plan to grow this number in the next 1 to 2 years?
The digital transformation wave has changed how business practice project and portfolio management. Below are three such technological trends that can help small businesses transform their PPM processes.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How will your software help my organization in digitally transforming my project and portfolio project management processes?