December 19, 2014

What Is Project and Portfolio Management?

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What is project and portfolio management (PPM)? How is it different from regular old project management (PM)? The answer is simple, actually.

PPM is the helicopter view of traditional project management. While project management targets tasks and milestones within individual project life-cycles, PPM is a framework for managing a portfolio of multiple projects at the same time. It’s a more commonly used by enterprise companies than small businesses (only 17 percent of midmarket companies used PPM last year), but there are exceptions to the rule.

Some of the “big picture” items PPM helps coordinate include financial management, project pipelines, change control and contingency planning, resource allocation, and risk management. At the heart of it all lies the philosophy of prioritization. I.e. Which projects are the most important right now? Which should receive the largest share of resources? Which pose the biggest risks? In that respect, PPM has a lot in common with financial portfolio management, where the goal is to balance and distribute investment amongst a portfolio of funds.

Who Is PPM For?

If your organization runs multiple simultaneous projects, and you’ve found yourself buried under a flurry of spreadsheets, emails, charts, and budgets, it’s worth considering PPM software. There are a range of products available for businesses of varying sizes, from enterprise solutions to light, software-as-a-service options.

Almost any company built around product development will have a prominent use for the methodology of PPM — at the very least — and likely a specific PPM system. A good example would be a software company. IT projects are complicated; they involve a high degree of risk, frequent readjustment, and collaboration between dispersed teams (66 percent of information workers work remotely). Another, less orthodox example, would be a greeting card company, like the one we profiled in this previous project portfolio post.

project and portfolio management

PPM Solution Screenshot: 24SevenOffice

How Can It Benefit Your Business?

In its 2014 Pulse of the Profession report, the Project Management Institute found that only 56 percent of organizations’ strategic initiatives met their original goals and business intent. Unfortunately, many companies have come to accept this failure as normal: they’ve missed the mark so often that they now plan on missing the mark. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

PPM solutions offer tools for navigating some of the toughest aspects of portfolio management, such as visibility. Since large scale projects depend on the synchronization of teams across multiple time zones and countries, it’s paramount that every user have access to the same up-to-date information. Without the necessary collaboration tools, project artifacts end up in silos accessible to only a select few, which can also obscure project ownership.

PPM is uniquely suited to compensate for these challenges by providing IT solutions for centralized visibility, task and team management, resource allocation (personnel, inventory, skills, production, design), scheduling, project pipelines, artifact repositories, and detailed analytics.


If you’re in the market for a PPM solution, come to us first. After all, we’ve already done the research for you. Our product selection tool can show you a whole new world . . . of PPM solutions. Either that, or our product specialists are standing by to give you a no-obligation consultation over the phone. Call us at 855-718-1369.


Image credit: Steve Davidson

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