The complexity of large projects makes successful project management a challenge for most companies. Poor project management means projects finish past due dates, over-budget, and with a lower-than-predicted return on investment (ROI). To overcome these challenges, businesses often rely on project management software, which mitigates risk by identifying failing aspects of a project.
Project management software can help streamline your company’s processes and create a successful PM framework. But as your project management process matures and you’re able to take on more projects, it becomes difficult to oversee multiple endeavors.
For example, when there are fifty projects in progress, how do you decide where to invest your organization’s time, budget, and staff? Which product, service, or new idea is top priority? How can you monitor a variety of important projects to ensure their chances of success are maximized?
Decision making in an ever changing climate demands a central platform to manage overall project efforts. Project portfolio management (PPM) software provides visibility, oversight, and tools to help companies prioritize and manage current projects and resources, as well as future needs and demands.
According to a study from the Aberdeen Group, organizations that use a PPM tool are 44 percent more likely to complete projects on time or early, 38 percent more likely to complete projects on budget, and 52 percent more likely to hit the expected ROI.1 Additionally, a study from Forrester Research Group concluded that implementing a PPM solution produced an expected ROI of 255 percent.2
In short, PPM software provides project managers and executives in large, project-driven organizations with a way to manage investments across a portfolio of assets to ensure maximum return on capital. The worldwide project and portfolio management market grew to $3.9 billion in 2013, and IDC's forecasts show continued growth of 7.8 percent to reach $5.7 billion by 2018.3
PPM Software Comparison
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If you already use project management software — or even a good project-driven ERP system — then it’s natural to question whether or not you actually need project and portfolio management software. To add to the confusion, some vendors sell each of these systems as separate applications, while others offer an all-in-one product. So can one platform really do the job as three — and save you software licensing costs?
Let’s examine the difference between these systems and sort out which software is best for your business.
Since PPM products provide a zoomed-out view of projects, some vendors may lack the tools needed to manage the granular aspects of an individual project or sub-project. Additionally, as technology rapidly advances, many ERP vendors are capable of delivering the functionality of PPM, EPM, or both — which further complicates the buying process.
So now you have some PPM and EPM solutions that are essentially the same thing, just re-labeled, depending on the industry to which vendors are trying to market them.4
Don’t necessarily judge a system by its acronym. Instead, focus on pinpointing the goals and need of your business, then evaluate and choose a project portfolio management software vendor that meets your specific needs.
If you’re not sure what to look for, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you compare project portfolio management software. PPM systems are essentially designed to do the same job, so differentiating between platforms is a challenge. In addition to PPM, some mega-vendors offer PM suites, EPM suites, and full ERP systems. Others only offer standalone PPM software that extracts data from your existing project management software, while still others provide niche systems tailored to your industry.
Ultimately, the best software for your business depends on the overall functionality and integrations you need. To understand how a PPM system can be used to meet your objectives, it’s important to understand the core functionality it provides. PPM software typically includes the following key management capabilities:
At the core of a PPM system, the above features are made possible by company-wide analysis capabilities. A self-service reporting dashboard provides a top-level view of projects, resources, budgets, requirements, and timelines. Analysis, predictive functionality, and “what-if” scenarios provide cohesive insights across investments to help leadership determine which efforts have the best prospects for high returns, assess the impact of changes to the portfolio, and reveal potential interdependencies. Project performance metrics from real-time data aggregation increase transparency.
In addition to analytics, other important PPM aspects to consider are:
Though it’s primarily adopted by enterprises, about 17 percent of mid-market companies use project portfolio management software.5 SMBs should focus on adopting a standard PM process and centralizing all project data before looking to leverage PPM software.
Most software markets are divided into tiers based on company size, but when choosing a PPM system, functionality mostly varies with use case. Depending on your industry and goals, your priorities will vary. Below are a few common PPM applications that may require an industry-specific vendor.
Gaining buy-in from executives is a critical success factor for software approval and implementation. In order to get your software purchase approved, you’ll need to include data that shows stakeholders what kind of return on investment they can expect. To do this, you can use the statistics provided in the introduction of this guide, and present industry research and relevant case studies like the one below. Additionally, consider tailoring your appeal to address the concerns of each member of the C-suite. Here some talking points to get you started.
Your IT department ensures the technology needs of the organizations are met. It’s important to consult your chief technology officer early in the buying process so they can share their expertise and help you make an informed decision. Since IT is constantly changing, there are many advantages to adopting modern PPM software. In the case of cloud deployment, IT can save costs on infrastructure, as well as reduce the burden on IT resources. Since the managers and stakeholders can use self-service PPM to monitor projects, the time IT spends on running reports is reduced. The IT department will be concerned with hidden costs (such as customer service bills) and security. Consulting IT early will ensure you have the support you need and a contender list that meets their rigorous requirements.
The leader of your organization sets the strategic goals and understands how projects align with those goals. Portfolio project management software can give them a data-driven way to monitor, evaluate, and predict project success, which helps your company identify what’s working and what’s not. It also provides an overview of your entire portfolio of projects, so leadership doesn’t have to wait for a report to know where everything stands. This leads to improved resource utilization and faster project completion, which is important for maintaining a competitive edge.
Your chief financial officer ensures resources that are allocated to projects align with the organization’s priorities. Since projects are often a large capital investment and sometimes uncertain, CFOs understand the importance of project success. They will want to know the funding requirements for a new technology investment, and how it will generate revenue. Be sure to highlight reduction in budget overruns for successful projects and avoidance of low value projects possible with PPM software. Case studies featuring companies similar to yours can help CFOs understand the financial benefits of investing in this technology.
Solution: CA PPM (formerly CA Clarity PPM)
Finansbank is a Turkish bank with over 674 branches and 13,697 employees. In 2005, their IT department became a separate subsidiary known as IBTech. IBTech is responsible for Finansbank’s IT infrastructure design, application development, and service management model.
IBTech designs and develops Finansbank’s Core Banking solution, as well as new platforms such as mobile banking, social networking, fraud detection solutions, and a next generation contact centre solution. They also manage projects that ensure the bank remains compliant with legislation.
As IBTech’s project management maturity increased, their existing project management software needed greater functionality and configurability to streamline key processes and enable automation. Reporting, financial management, and invoicing were particularly challenging, since IBTech had to export data and manually calculate costs. IBTech wanted to improve its ability to plan resource capacity in advance and simplify charge-back processes.
IBTech required a user-friendly, highly configurable, and easy to integrate solution to fulfill their functional requirements for project, portfolio, resource, and financial management. They selected CA Project and Portfolio Management after spending 18 months evaluating portfolio project management vendors, attending workshops, and evaluating requests for proposals.
“The projects we manage on behalf of Finansbank are key to its day-to-day operations and competitive advantage. CA Project & Portfolio Management enables us to deliver better and quicker project-based services and information to Finansbank, which in turn means Finansbank can offer rapid and more efficient technology-based services to its customers.” -Metin Ornek, Manager, Department of Planning and Analysis
In addition to gaining the ability to make more informed business and investment decisions, IBTech saw the following results after implementation:
At TechnologyAdvice, our goal is to help businesses connect with the technology that best meets their needs. We’ve compiled product information, reviews, case studies, feature lists, video walkthroughs, and research articles on hundreds of leading IT solutions, all to make the buying process more straightforward for decision makers like you.
If you’re curious about any of the portfolio project management products or features listed in this guide, we’d love to talk to you. Call one of our in-house specialists for a free consultation, or use the Product Selection Tool on our website to get a personalized recommendation.