What Does a PMO Do?

A Project Management Office (PMO) is a group or department within an organization that establishes and implements best practices and maintains standards for project management, planning, and execution. The PMO strives to standardize best practices and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. It also is the source of documentation, guidance and performance metrics.

As a Project Portfolio Management Software company,  we just might be the world’s biggest fan of the PMO! We think methodical project management, planning, and execution is an absolute necessity for project success.

Inspired by research by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the infographic below contains a summary view of relevant facts and figures concerning the Project Management Office that support the importance of the PMO in your Project Portfolio.

The infographic includes information on:

  • Percentage of firms with PMOs
  • How greater PMO capability leads to greater performance
  • The average number of projects worked each year by organization size
  • Top five PMO priorities and challenges
  • The difference between low and high performers’ effectiveness
Source: PM Solutions, State of the PMO 2016 Research Report

Read our Definitive Guide to Project Portfolio Management to chart the course to more successful projects.

If you’re interested in learning about our solutions, contact us, or request a free demo.

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    Quick Take:

    • Project Management jargon can be difficult to wrangle
    • Understand what PM, PM (not a typo), PMP®, PgM, EPM, PMO, PMBOK, and PPM mean
    • PM can mean Project Manager or Project Management
    • Project Portfolio Management (PPM)  enables organizations to place a framework around project management that enables them to effectively manage projects, no matter how small or large

    Get Up to Speed on the Lingo

    When your organization realizes it is time to find and apply a management software for ongoing projects, you might become quickly overwhelmed. To start with, there are several popular acronyms concerning project management that you’re likely to run into:

    • PM
    • PM (not a typo)
    • PMP®
    • PgM
    • EPM
    • PMO
    • PMBOK
    • PPM

    Let’s take each of these in turn.

    Project Manager (PM)

    PM can mean Project Manager, as in, “I’ll have to ask my PM if they can crash the schedule.” The PM is the person responsible for ensuring that the project produces the approved scope (stuff that needs to get done) in a set period of time with the agreed upon resources.

    Project Management (PM)

    PM can also mean Project Management, the process of running effective projects. (Confused yet?)

    Projects are endeavors that are unique—not part of the normal operation of an organization—temporary, have a defined beginning and end, a defined scope, and resources, both human and otherwise, that are dedicated to the project for a set period of time.

    Project Manager Professional (PMP)

    A PMP is a project manager who has received a PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (another acronym: PMI). According to PMI, a PM with a PMP is skilled in

    • People: emphasizing the soft skills you need to effectively lead a project team in today’s changing environment.
    • Process: reinforcing the technical aspects of successfully managing projects.
    • Business Environment: highlighting the connection between projects and organizational strategy.

    Program Management (PgM)

    PgM can mean either Program Management, the practice, or Program Manager, the person who manages programs. In any case, PgM involves managing several related projects, known as a progam. PMI defines a program as “a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually. Program management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to meet program requirements. Organizations with mature program management are far more successful than those without it, according to our research.”

    Enterprise Program Management (EPM)

    Wikipedia has a good description of Enterprise Project Management. It is “the field of organizational development that supports organizations in managing integrally and adapting themselves to the changes of a transformation. EPM is a way of thinking, communicating and working, supported by an information system, that organizes enterprise’s resources in a direct relationship to the leadership’s vision and the mission, strategy, goals and objectives that move the organization forward. Simply put, EPM provides a 360 degree view of the organization’s collective efforts.”

    Project Management Office (PMO)

    PMO could mean Project Management Office or it could mean Program Management Office. We’ll stick with the first meaning.

    Wikipedia defines a PMO as “a group or department within a business, government agency, or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.”

    Project Management Book Of Knowledge (PMBOK)

    The PMBOK is the project manager’s bible, produced by PMI and used by millions of PMs across the globe. PMI says that the guide represents good practice for most projects most of the time. Its contents are based on consensus among project management experts. Wikipedia says the PMBOK “overlaps with general management regarding planning, organizing, staffing, executing and controlling the operations of an organization. Other management disciplines which overlap with the PMBOK Guide include financial forecasting, organizational behavior, management science, budgeting and other planning methods.”

    Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

    One very effective way to corral all the acronyms and place them in a practical framework is called Project Portfolio Management. This technique enables organizations to place a framework around project management that enables them to effectively manage projects, no matter how small or large.

    Managing with PPM is quite different from other techniques. One of the biggest emphases in PPM is making sure that:

    • The right projects are selected
    • At the right time
    • Aligned with the organization’s needs and strategies
    • With the right resources available
    • Planned and resourced for success
    • And that subsequently deliver the right outcomes

    PPM starts by dividing the work into projects, portfolios, and sometimes programs. A portfolio is a collection of projects or programs or activities that have some characteristic in common. They may be sponsored by the same stakeholders, or are aligned to solve similar problems, or otherwise make sense to group into a portfolio.

    Using Project Portfolio Management

    PPM is a comprehensive way to effectively manage all the projects, programs, and profiles in your organization using PPM software. To further delineate the difference between project management, program management, and portfolio management, let’s dive a little deeper into these processes and the software that can support them.

    Project Management

    The basis of PPM is good project management. Project management focuses on the care and feeding of one or more projects.

    Definition:

    Project management is the process that ensures projects achieve the desired objectives set out in the project charter.

    Process:

    1. Initiate the project
    2. Develop a plan
    3. Control the project activities throughout its lifetime
    4. Complete the project according to the approved plan
    5. Close the project on time and within budget

    Software:

    Project Management software involves tools that organize day-to-day project planning, tracking, and monitoring. This type of software has features such as milestones, Gantt charts, budgeting, calendars, and timesheets. Project management software significantly improves collaboration, increases clarity, and helps teams stay on task.

    Program Management

    Many organizations use Program Management in which several similar projects are gathered under the same management.

    Definition:

    Projects in a program are managed a coordinated way, in order to gain the benefits and control not available from managing them individually. A Program Manager is tasked with optimizing the utilization of resources across projects to increase the organization’s overall performance. The most significant differences between project management and program management are that programs tend to last longer, require more effort and result in outcomes, not outputs.

    For example, the goal of a project might be to implement a new software program for the sales team to enter leads. A program’s outcome could be to shift how the marketing and sales organizations work together.

    Process:

    1. Manage overlaps and dependencies between projects
    2. Track overall resource capacity and availability
    3. Ensure program level goals are achieved on time and on budget

    Software:

    Some companies use Enterprise Project Management (EPM) software, designed to ease day-to-day project delivery and management on a larger scale.

    An EPM solution helps to manage, monitor and assess activities, schedules, and work breakdown structures.

    Project Portfolio Management

    PPM is the top of the hierarchy. It enables managers to look across the enterprise to detect trends and threats as well as discover waste or improvements.

    Definition:

    PPM is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by Project Managers and Project Management Offices to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. The group of projects or programs in a portfolio do not have to be related.

    PPM has a bigger scope and objectives than project or program management. In addition, in PPM the portfolio manager identifies, prioritizes, and authorizes the projects or programs the organization tackles to achieve strategic business objectives. Although they set the priority of the projects or programs in a group, PPM managers typically do not oversee any individual project or program.

    Process:

    1. Shift from program management to portfolio management
    2. Optimize resources to stay in budget
    3. Communicate effectively across all departments
    4. Enjoy economies of scale to reduce risks

    Software:

    Project Portfolio Management software manages activities to better achieve an organization’s operational and financial goals. PPM does this by choosing the optimal mix for delivery and scheduling activities. PPM software also manages constraints imposed by customers, strategic objectives, or external real-world factors.

    Projectric Project Portfolio Management Software

    Projectric is a powerful and easy-to-use PPM solution that enables you to easily and effectively manage a portfolio of projects. PPM streamlines the project intake process with customizable scoring for project alignment and prioritization.  

    Projectric features built-in reports to analyze, measure and manage projects and resources.  Reporting includes time tracking and overall project financial management. Projectric provides powerful analyses features such as predictive portfolio analysis and hindsight analysis.

    As you move from project management towards portfolio management, your scope and objectives become larger and more complex. However, your tools can remain simple and intuitive.

    Projectric is PPM simplified.

    You can master all the acronyms in this post, but unless they can help you implement Project Portfolio Management, they’re just a bunch of letters.

    Projectric PPM will help you organize projects, programs, and portfolios to empower you to make better business decisions, PDQ.  

    If you’d like to learn more, request a live demo or email us at [email protected]

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      Quick Take:

      • 750 million users of Excel worldwide
      • Excel has some pluses: ease of use, availability, flexibility, and cost
      • Spreadsheets have their place, but managing a portfolio of projects effectively is not one of them
      • Project Portfolio Management (PPM) requires a governance model and controls with an integrated workflow
      • Projectric Project Portfolio Management software avoids all the negatives of not only spreadsheets, but also of overly-complex, feature-heavy PPM solutions

      Excel Conquered the World

      Microsoft estimates there are 750 million users of Excel worldwide. And it is no wonder—spreadsheets are a handy tool. But is Excel where you should be managing projects and project portfolios?

      We think the answer is a hard no!

      There are so many reasons, it’s hard to know where to start to delineate them. But first, let’s examine Excel as a project management platform.

      Benefits of Spreadsheets for Project Portfolio Management

      Spreadsheets are the project tracking and project portfolio management tool of choice for many organizations because of:

      • Ease of Use—Most business people already know how to create spreadsheets or could learn very quickly.
      • Availability—Spreadsheet applications are on almost every laptop and PC, just a click away. As a result, they have become a standard form of communication for business.
      • Flexibility—Spreadsheets allow non-technical people to do things they never thought possible without learning a programming language.
      • Cost—Because spreadsheets are typically already installed on most laptops and PCs, and creating a spreadsheet can be very fast and easy, they have very low start-up costs, if any.

      Spreadsheets offer a very quick, adaptable and inexpensive way to create a project inventory list from scratch. From there, it’s an easy step to grow the use of spreadsheets to try to manage projects. You can create spreadsheets of your project backlog, spreadsheets of active projects, and spreadsheets of finished projects.

      It doesn’t stop there. You can also create additional spreadsheets for resource lists with availability projections and spreadsheets of project plans. Some project managers even create project scope statements and other documents in spreadsheets.

      It’s easy to see why many project managers run their projects with Excel.

      How To Manage Project Portfolios With Spreadsheets

      In many organizations, projects are organized into Project Portfolios. A benefit of this technique is generally an improvement in the organization’s ability to monitor and guide projects. Portfolios are often managed with applications that are known as Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software.

      Implementing PPM on spreadsheets generally means you’ll be creating multiple spreadsheets, perhaps dozens or hundreds if your organization is large. Once lots of project spreadsheets have been created, the issue becomes how to update the information they contain. The information needs for decision-making frequently change as the project progresses through the lifecycle. For example, while the project is still in the pipeline—pre-launch—it is important for project managers to prioritize when projects are ready to launch. PMs must understand project alignment characteristics, value, the requested due date, and the estimated start date. And change all of these values manually.

      This can result in cascading changes in current and backlog project spreadsheets.

      Once the project is initiated, the PM’s overarching concern is each project’s health, progress, and likely finish date. These pieces of information require manual changes to the relevant spreadsheets.

      Certain functions in the project decision process do not lend themselves to a project list format. Thus, more spreadsheets are required. For example, if a scoring model is used for value assessment, this  typically requires a different spreadsheet with different requirements.

      Spreadsheet growth can also be driven by resource availability tables which typically need to be viewed both by resource and by project.

      True Project Portfolio Management requires a governance model featuring controls and an integrated workflow. Having a defined process with decision points and requirements for movement from one stage to the next allows an organization to remain in control, be consistent, and make improvements.

      Spreadsheets were never designed to be able to implement a workflow, although a spreadsheet guru might be able to do so. However, this is rarely done for a PPM implementation due to the large amount of manual effort required. Even if your spreadsheet guru is up to the task, is this really worth the effort and time to maintain?

      All changes are manually entered or altered. That’s a big problem in spreadsheet project management.

      Hidden Costs of Project Portfolio Management by Spreadsheets

      Many costs associated with spreadsheets are not initially apparent. The large number of spreadsheets, the difficulty to collaborate and share information from these spreadsheets, and the fact that spreadsheets were not designed for certain PPM functions all drive up personnel and other costs. The resulting hidden costs include:

      1. Wasted Time

      Spreadsheet users waste hours of time consolidating information from multiple spreadsheets and transferring selected information from one spreadsheet to another. Individual users also waste time trying to perfect their own view by resizing columns and rows, justifying text, and many other beautification activities that really don’t add value.

      With multiple spreadsheets and duplicative data, personnel waste time looking for and correcting inaccuracies in the data. Or worse, these inaccuracies never get corrected and create a risk to the organization.

      Often time is wasted when the spreadsheet builder has to explain the intricacies of their work so others can use it. This is further hindered by the differing skill levels of spreadsheet users. And, given the creators are constantly modifying their work, there is a constant need to explain the changes.

      2. Inefficiencies

      Inefficiencies from spreadsheets occur in multiple areas. The preferred method of communicating spreadsheet information is usually to email them to others. In some cases, this is completed instantaneously; however, in other instances, there is a delay between when the spreadsheet was emailed and when it was opened. This leads to delays in work and decisions, and as a result, the information needed might not be available to a person when they need it.

      Emailing spreadsheets also leads to the potential for multiple versions of the same spreadsheet being updated independently and creating more inefficiencies due to duplication of effort.

      The need for special reporting can cause another inefficiency when personnel want to see a subset of the information in the main spreadsheets. This requires generating special views that can be communicated. This practice spawns even more spreadsheet versions.

      Without careful governance, massive PPM spreadsheets can be created over time without considering the value of the additional data or the potential of causing data overload. More data does not always lead to better decisions. Often it leads to paralysis or “minertia”—being so bogged down by minutia that you can’t make any real progress.

      Along the same lines, spreadsheets have so many powerful data manipulation features there’s a risk of over-analysis of the information, for example, creating new filters and generating pivot tables of data that don’t enhance the understanding of current status.

      3. Risks

      Spreadsheets can lead to higher risks for data security. Since spreadsheets are quite portable, it can be very difficult to control who has access to them both internally and externally. It is too easy to intentionally or accidentally send a spreadsheet to a destination outside of an organization’s control. Having copies of spreadsheets and data in multiple hands only compounds the potential risk.

      There is a potential risk of making a bad decision as a result of the data inaccuracies that manual management of the data often introduce.

      Productivity Beyond Spreadsheets

      Spreadsheets are a valuable tool and a great place to start at the beginning of a PPM initiative. They are a great personal productivity tool because of their availability, ease-of-use and flexibility. And, they will always play a part in PPM for certain types of reporting and analysis. However, they are not free of cost and can become a very expensive tool when used for a large-scale PPM solution.

      Given the potential costs and risks of using spreadsheets, it does not take much of a productivity gain to justify the cost of some of the more affordable PPM solutions on the market. If your employees waste as little as one hour per day with PPM spreadsheets, the costs can be substantial.

      It does not take much of a productivity gain to justify the cost of some of the more affordable PPM solutions on the market.

      If your employees waste as little as one hour per day with PPM spreadsheets, the costs can be substantial.

      For example, let’s say you have 3 employees involved in PPM, they work an average of an hour a day, 200 days per year, and your hourly rate is $50. This adds up to $30,000 per year of wasted expense. For this amount of savings, you could easily get a 10X return on your investment in an affordable PPM solution.

      Keep Project Portfolio Management Simple

      The proliferation of spreadsheets for PPM is an indication that users have unfulfilled needs. But PMs might be resistant to an unfamiliar PPM solution and to having to abandon the more familiar spreadsheet.

      Spreadsheets might seem to be quick and easy, but as we’ve discussed, even these two advantages might not provide the advantage one would think. Any PPM solution is likely to be somewhat less quick and easy, at least at first; it is critical that the solution be uncomplicated and easy-to-learn. The solution should provide familiar spreadsheet-like views and not add unneeded complexity by over-automating the process.

      Many organizations have implemented a sophisticated, complicated PPM tool only to see their users fall back to the more familiar spreadsheets. If you want your PPM solution to be used by your organization, keep it simple and ensure it is used as an aid for the decision making that will increase the value delivered by your department to the organization.

      Projectric Advantages

      It won’t surprise you to know that Projectric Project Portfolio Management software avoids all the negatives of not only spreadsheets, but also of overly-complex, feature-heavy, expensive PPM solutions. It is simple, but very powerful.

      Projectric Project Portfolio Management enables organizations to more effectively accomplish:

      Let us show you what we mean. Request a live demo or email us at [email protected]

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        Quick Take:

        • Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software can dramatically enhance the success rate of your organization’s projects
        • PPM software can forecast the success of your projects, provide your team with a centralized resource that enables visibility and insight, increase collaboration among your team, simplify the top-down management of project plans, and enable you to easily perform hindsight evaluation
        • Projectric provides a top-down, detailed view of your portfolios, programs, and projects in a comprehensive centralized platform

        Managing Portfolios

        Are you tasked with ensuring the success of your organization’s portfolio of projects? Do you find that often your projects finish late or over budget? Are you having trouble deciding where to invest your organization’s time, budget and staff?

        If you’re answering yes to any of these questions, it is time to introduce a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software solution into your organization.

        Intuitive and powerful PPM software will help you make sense of your organization’s full portfolio of projects and help ensure your success. With a PPM solution, you can stop guessing and start ensuring your projects are completed on time, within budget, and deliver ROI.

        Here are five ways a Project Portfolio Management software will make your more effective in your job:

        1. Forecast the success of your projects—Use customizable project scoring to align, prioritize, and select projects that achieve your organization’s strategic goals. Track workloads by resource and optimize by department or role. Perform what-if scenarios to forecast the outcomes of future projects.
        2. Provide your team with a centralized resource that enables visibility and insight into all project efforts, so you always remain on the same page and never miss a deadline again.
        3. Increase collaboration among your team—Clearly display valuable information via shareable dashboards and charts with customizable views. Use email notifications to instantly inform your team of project updates.
        4. Simplify the top-down management of project plans and issues so you can keep all projects across your portfolios on-time and on budget. Keep track of milestones that are coming due so your team never overlooks a deadline.
        5. Perform hindsight evaluation to assess the success of your efforts against your goals. Understand what types of projects are helping or hurting your bottom line so you can make better future decisions.

        Selecting a Project Portfolio Management Solution

        PPM solutions provide the visibility, control, and features needed to help your organization better manage projects and resources, and to be better equipped to meet future needs. Investing in a PPM software solution will enable you to meet the demands of your organization by laser focusing on the management of investments that deliver ROI.

        At Projectric, we provide a top-down, detailed view of your portfolios, programs, and projects in a centralized platform that delivers transparency across your organization. Using our signature Portfolio Intelligence methodology, you’ll analyze your initiatives throughout the project lifecycle—from proposal to completion.

        Our PPM solution will ensure your organization increases the value of the overall portfolio and meets strategic objectives across the enterprise—from IT to Operations to Finance to top management.

        Are you ready to better plan and execute on your portfolio of projects? Contact us today at [email protected] or request a live demo.

         

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          Quick Take:

          The phases of the Project Management Process are:

          • Initiation
          • Planning
          • Execution
          • Monitoring
          • Closing

          The Phases of the Project Management Process

          Effective project management relies on a series of processes. For waterfall project management, these processes are commonly organized into phases. These phases generally run linearly and sequentially with a Big Bang at the end when the project delivers its planned result.

          Agile project management also has phases, but they are more incremental and iterative and less step by step. This process values delivering pieces of the project during the span of the effort. We’ll discuss Agile project management in a future post.

          Today, the majority of projects use the Waterfall Project Management Process, which is illustrated below. This simple graphic shows the key phases in the Project Management Process and associated activities for each step.  

          The information above is taken from the Project Management Institute (PMI). We include information for both Project Management 4 Phases and Project Management 5 Phases. The main difference between the two processes is that the 4-step process combines Steps 4 and 5 (Monitoring and Closing) and the activities that support those steps.

          Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software such as Projectric  supports the activities for each project phase.  Read our blog post Mind Your P’s and M’s: PPM for PM to find out how PPM supports robust Project Management Methodologies.

          We hope this overview helps as you refine your Project Management techniques. If you have questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll give you a hand.

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            Quick Take:

            • Project Managers (PMs) must deliver projects on-time while providing transparency and governance. However, today, PMs often are working with a set of tools ill-suited for the changing landscape.
            • IT budgets have only risen slightly, but much of the IT portfolio has shifted from maintaining the infrastructure status quo to supporting expensive, broad, complex initiatives such as digital transformation
            • PMs not only need to ensure that the proper projects are being approved, they are tasked with improving project management as well as providing reporting transparency and governance
            • To survive and thrive, PMs should use an end-to-end Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software solution even if their focus is only at the project level
            • Project Portfolio Management software helps PMs see all projects and emerging issues across a portfolio and provides the tools not only for planning now, but to forecast future needs

            Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software tools can help advance careers and minimize stress for Project Managers (PM). Using PPM, a Project Manager can move from a facilitation role with limited organizational value to a management role with demonstrable impact towards achieving strategic goals.

            Project Management Challenges

            Project Managers must deliver IT projects on-time while providing transparency and governance to the organization. They must be able to answer requests from diverse lines of business such as:

            • Which projects are approved and why?
            • How will this program be staffed?
            • Was this a successful project?
            • Will we have the resources available for the project starting new quarter?

            Today, Project Managers face these challenges with a set of tools ill-suited for the changing landscape. Manual processes are not scalable; Excel is not dynamic and can’t forecast; and standalone solutions are not integrated. It’s always been this way. Project Managers are increasingly tasked to do more with less, and this is expectation is even greater today, given the ever rising velocity of business.

            Although IT budgets have only risen slightly, but the composition of the IT portfolio has shifted from fairly predictable programs designed to maintain the infrastructure status quo to programs supporting more-risky initiatives such as digital transformation. (See our post Is Your PPM Process Ready For The Digital Transformation? for more information.)

            Project Managers need help to ensure the proper projects are being approved and that they are continuously improving project management practices, all the while providing the reporting transparency and governance needed to advance the organization.

            The Solution: Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

            So what is PPM software?

            Project Portfolio Management software is typically a suite of tools designed to manage collections (portfolios) of projects, programs, or products, including current and future projects. A portfolio continuously optimizes the allocation, prioritization and scheduling of resources. PPM systems track the dependencies between projects and the enterprise to provide project managers and executives a global view.

            Even if their focus is only at the project level, Project Managers can leverage the benefits of an end-to-end Project Portfolio Management solution. By utilizing a PPM solution to see all projects across a portfolio as well as emerging issues, the PM can take early corrective action that benefits the overall portfolio and thus the organization.

            Additionally, a top-down view of resource utilization across projects allows the PM to proactively make adjustments and even solve multiple resource issues at once. Finally, PPM software can provide transparency on project performance. The intelligence capability PPM provides can be automated and distributed to the line of business via self-service reporting tools, allowing the PM more time to focus on managing the projects vs. delivering status reports.

            A full-featured intuitive PPM tool can make a PM more effective using the following enhanced capabilities:

            Project Approval

            PPM software gives Project Managers the powerful tools PMs need to ensure that the project proposals presented for funding are selected using methodologies that are rigorous, transparent, and align with corporate strategies and portfolio goals

            Timesheet Management

            Use your PPM to maintain cost and expense data within a centralized solution that enables easy input via web-based templates.

            Resource Allocation

            PPM provides top-down views of project status and milestone tracking enabling PMs to manage initiatives with the portfolio view in mind.  There’s more about Resource Allocation in this blog post.

            Top-Down Reporting

            PPM software enables PM to quickly access all relevant data—from project selection criteria to actual vs budgeted results—accessible in a variety of charts and dashboards across the enterprise.  Read more about best practices for reporting within PPM here.  

            Benefits To Project Managers

            Easy PM access to project data has benefits from performance improvement that range from the quantitative (improved project success rate, financial return, and cost savings) to the qualitative (less time spent doing manual tasks, improved organizational success, and support to formalize and develop a Project Management Office (PMO).)

            These and many other valuable PPM features listed below combine to transform the PM role from being viewed simply as a facilitation role with limited organizational value to one with a demonstrable impact on achieving your organization’s strategic goals.

            The Benefits of Project Portfolio Management

            • Improved:
              • Risk Management
              • Financial Management
              • Forecasting
              • Pipeline Management
              • Resource Management
              • Change Management
              • Documentation
              • Reporting and Analytics
              • Business intelligence
            • Dashboards for Critical Project Status
            • Real-Time Monitoring
            • Collaboration with Stakeholders

            We could go on, and on about the benefits of obtaining the right Project Portfolio Management solution but if you’re interested in learning more, contact us for a free demo.

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              Quick Take:

              • What is Project Management Software?—Project management software helps project managers in day-to-day project planning, tracking, and monitoring with an emphasis on understanding and managing immediate priorities
              • What is Enterprise Project Management Software?—EPM software is similar to Project Management Software but operates on a larger scale. Because enterprises have more than one project in progress simultaneously, an EPM solution helps to manage, monitor, and assess the activities, schedules, and work breakdown structures for many projects across all departments.
              • What is Project Portfolio Management Software?—PPM software is designed to manage collections (portfolios) of projects, programs, or products, including current and future projects. PPM systems track the dependencies between projects and the enterprise, to provide project managers and executives a global view. A portfolio continuously optimizes the allocation, prioritization and scheduling of resources.

              PM, EPM, and PPM Explained

              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 of three — and save you software licensing costs?

              Yes, it can, if it’s the right software.

              Let’s examine the difference between these systems and sort out which software is best for your business.

              PM: Project Management Software

              Project management software involves functionality aimed at day-to-day project planning, tracking, and monitoring. Project Managers focus on the needs of their stakeholders. They obtain the resources necessary for success and apply technology, methodology, and resources to achieve project success.

              A Project Manager is primarily interested in immediate priorities — who is supposed to do what activity when, and what are the costs involved. Software tools help teams collaborate and increase transparency through features such as milestones, Gantt charts, budgeting, calendars, and timesheets. PM software also enhances the communication and collaboration between projects.

              Project management software is typically focused at helping individual project managers manage their projects.

              EPM: Enterprise Project Management Software

              Like project management software, enterprise project management software is also designed to facilitate day-to-day project delivery and management, but on a larger scale, generally company-wide. Since enterprises have more than one project in progress simultaneously, an EPM solution helps reach across the organization manage, monitor, streamline, and assess the activities, schedules, and work breakdown structures for the company’s existing set of projects.

              Enterprise project management focuses across the enterprise, to prioritize business goals by managing and grouping projects to meet broader enterprise-wide objectives.

              Getting a handle on success factors in enterprise project management can save companies significant money. The Project Management Institute (PMI) found in a study 14 percent of IT projects fail. IT gets worse.  Of the projects that didn’t fail outright, 31 percent didn’t meet their goals, 43 percent exceeded their initial budgets, and 49 percent were late.

              PPM: Project Portfolio Management Software

              Project portfolio management software is designed to handle projects, programs, or products across the enterprise in part by assigning projects to portfolios. Questions answered by PPM software go beyond “Did the project end successfully” to help determine other success factors, such as:

              • How did the project fit into the current mix?
              • Do projects of this type meet organizational goals?
              • What are the inter-dependencies between projects?
              • Three months from now, will we have enough resources to start the project?
              • Which projects are failing and should be terminated?

              PPM systems show performance and resource demands of current projects, as well as projects that are being bid, sold, or will start at a future date. PPM systems show how projects fit with the rest of the enterprise, giving project managers and executives a global view of where skills and resources are invested.

              PPM software generally aggregates project data from PM, EPM, or ERP systems to create portfolios of existing and future projects for evaluation organized by budget size, calendar year, budget year, business line, and so on.

              Since PPM products provide a comprehensive zoomed-out view of projects, some software vendors may be good at the big picture but lack the tools needed to manage the granular aspects of an individual project or sub-project. The most effective PPM software handles both the macro and micro view of an organization’s projects.

              Get the Real Thing

              As technology rapidly advances, many ERP vendors are claiming they are capable of delivering the functionality of PPM, EPM, or both — which can confuse the buying process.

              Also there are some EPM solutions that claim they are PPM solutions.

              Don’t necessarily judge a system by its acronym. Instead, focus on pinpointing the goals and needs of your business, then evaluate and choose a project portfolio management software vendor that meets your specific needs.

              If you need an enterprise-wide solution that aggregates project data to create portfolios of existing and future projects, that shows performance and resource demands of current and future projects, that delivers Project Prioritization, Project Management, Resource Management and Project Portfolio Reporting, contact us today at [email protected].

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                Quick Take:

                • Prioritization is rightly the first component of the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) process
                • Your project prioritization framework should be data-driven
                • Defining the value your organization seeks is critical to success
                • Your prioritization process should take into account these steps: Intake, Scoring, Selection, and Strategic Alignment
                • The data contained in your PPM software system is critical to project prioritization success

                While the four steps of the Project Prioritization process can be undertaken by several means, sufficient, accurate, real-world data and an application that can help you derive insights at each step is critical.

                Getting Project Prioritization Right is Critical to PPM Success

                Your organization probably does not lack for ideas for projects to improve efficiency, accountability, revenue, and other facets. But how can you determine which projects will deliver the biggest value? Deciding by the seat of your pants might work for very small organizations, but when there’s lots of work to be done, you need a way to rigorously evaluate project proposals and prioritize them.

                Project Prioritization is the first and one of the most impactful components of a Project Portfolio Management process. It enables your organization to focus on projects that deliver the most value. (The other PPM process components are Project Management, Resource Management, and Project Portfolio Reporting.)

                Start identifying the best projects by examining projects’ business goals, time, money, and resources required. Your project prioritization framework should be data-driven, objective, and scalable. It should support the concepts of Governance and Transparency.

                It’s likely that your organization has many different definitions of value. For some, value is determined by increasing revenue. For others, value means reducing cost. Or a measure of value could be a qualitative goal such as “going green.” And on, and on. To begin the project prioritization process, you must first define the value that a project or group of projects will bring to the organization. Once you have that sorted out, you can begin the project prioritization process.

                For most organizations, the project prioritization process consists of the following steps:

                • Project Intake
                • Project Scoring
                • Project Selection
                • Strategic Alignment

                A PPM software solution that features a project prioritization template and other tools to capture or create data for each of step of the process will be critical to delivering maximum value from your project portfolio.

                Project Intake

                In some organizations, there are many ways to get projects into production. Often these are ad hoc processes that generally are not the best way to select high-value projects. It’s best to create a framework to support this important process for project initiation. That framework should be able to track and contain the various decisions and ranking of projects required to fully vet new projects. Your process should include the following:

                • Definition: The project intake process includes the steps for submitting an initiative for evaluation
                • Data Gathered: Capture important details such as sponsor, project name, business goal, priority and requested due date
                • How To Implement: Project Portfolio Management software tools include an intake form template that you can customize to gather the appropriate information

                 

                Project Scoring

                You want an objective process to ensure rational Project Prioritization. To be a success, this process must be able to score each project competing for funding. Doing so weeds out the nice-to-have projects from the critical projects and can surface projects that deliver the best value. PPM software can help make the scoring process move smoothly.

                • Definition: A scoring model is used to quantify a project’s various components along one or more axes that represent the quality and impact of the project
                • Data Gathered: Risk, reward, complexity, cost, revenue, and strategic alignment measures will feed the scoring process
                • How To Implement: Project Portfolio Management software usually enables a weighted scoring model to build a project scorecard to track results

                 

                Strategic Alignment

                A project that is not strategically aligned with an organization’s goals can be distracting as well as a waste of resources. Your project may have scored well during the Project Scoring phase, but it may not be aligned for a variety of reasons. For example, management may have changed direction or failed to accurately communicate the strategic goals of the organization. Ensuring alignment is critical to effective Project Prioritization.

                • Definition: How well a project aligns with organizational goals
                • Data Gathered: Score vs. goal
                • How To Implement: Aligning projects to business strategy should be crucial in your Project Portfolio Management software scoring model

                The bottom line is that your Project Portfolio Strategy must be aligned with the organization’s Business Strategy. It’s not enough for your project strategy to just align with the Project Management Office (PMO).

                Project Selection

                So, your projects are aligned strategically. Finally it’s time to do what may be the most difficult step of the Project Prioritization process: selection followed by prioritization.

                • Definition: Determining if/when a project proceeds to the next stage in the PPM process
                • Data Gathered: Active projects, canceled projects, the project submitter, and the project score
                • How To Implement: Your project selection criteria should include the elements described above

                As part of Project Selection, you can determine or incorporate your organizational risk/reward baseline and use that to select projects.

                A robust project prioritization process will allow you to answer, at a minimum:

                • Who submitted this project and what is its purpose?
                • How do I compare these projects?
                • Which strategic goal does this project support?
                • Why was my project not approved?
                • If I have limited resources, do I cancel any of my projects? Which projects?
                • Do I hire additional resources for my project backlog?

                With the help of the right Project Portfolio Management software, you can streamline the Project Prioritization process and ground it in reality. PPM software can also reveal risks, rewards, and insights that can improve prioritization accuracy.

                Project prioritization ensures that you are making the best use of your organization’s resources. To learn more about the additional benefits that PPM can deliver please see our “Definitive Guide to Project Portfolio Management.”

                 

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                  Quick Take

                  • Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is essential to keeping a pulse on your organization’s projects
                  • In addition to high-level views of project progress, a good PPM solution enables you to dive deeply into the details of individual projects
                  • Robust, automated issue tracking is a must for effective oversight of the portfolio
                  • PPM solutions need to store  granular data (such as Work Breakdown Structures and Time sheets) to ensure that the information presented is both accurate to the entire organization and relevant to Project Managers

                  Project Portfolio Management is All About the Data

                  Data is the lifeblood of every organization of any size. You wouldn’t run your account receivables without a ironclad accounting software solution. It’s the same for projects. If you can’t easily and immediately find out where your projects are at, your organization could be at risk, and you wouldn’t know it.

                  Project Portfolio Management is essential to the proper functioning of your projects. Your organization needs PPM as the system of record for your projects to ensure the health of your project portfolios. Generally, organizations deploy PPM software solutions to create the framework that ensures the right projects are selected and project progress monitors are in place  so management can feel sure that everything is running smoothly.

                  Your PPM solution process must provide an aggregate portfolio view of all project plans for big picture analysis. But it also should offer visibility into data at the project level.

                  Portfolio owners and Program Managers must be able to review and edit individual project plans as well as visualize the work breakdown structure for each initiative.

                  Another required facet, the Project Portfolio Management issue tracking process, enables project level management to effectively handle problems and identify patterns to ensure the timeliness of portfolio goals.

                  To achieve these goals, your Project Management Portfolio Management solution should enable the following capabilities:

                  • Project Lifecycle
                  • Project Plans
                  • Work Breakdown Structure
                  • Issue Tracking
                  • Timesheets

                  We discuss each of these capabilities below.

                  Project Lifecycle

                  A Project Portfolio Management solution must have a process to organize all initiatives—on the launchpad or in-flight—and enable everyone to understand project status, from organization and portfolio management down to the project managers.

                  Mapping out your project lifecycle process enables you to manage proposed initiatives, gather information, manage active projects, and review your completed projects.

                  Your project management software can use the project lifecycle to answer questions such as:

                  • How many active projects do we have?
                  • When was this project placed on hold?
                  • Who proposed the most initiatives this year?
                  • Is my project done yet?

                  This process also facilities project postmortems and lessons-learned evaluations.

                  Project Plans

                  Your PPM solution must be able to aggregate and track project management plans across the portfolio and allow individual project plans to be examined and updated.

                  PPM project planning enables portfolio managers and project managers to create mock-up plans for initiatives that are still in the planning or inactive stage. This allows you to assign resources and timelines and perform “what-if” analysis against the entire portfolio.

                  Work Breakdown Structure

                  PPM solutions need to able to store data at a low level of granularity to ensure that the information presented is complete, accurate.,available to the entire organization, and relevant to Project Managers.

                  The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is usually a visual deliverable that breaks down the project plan into tasks, milestones, timelines, and resources necessary to complete the project. It may take the form of a Gantt chart created by your PPM software.

                  The WBS provides the information needed to answer questions such as:

                  • Which tasks or milestones are due this week?
                  • Who is responsible for Task A?
                  • What is the on-time rate for milestones on projects with this PM?
                  • Is my project done yet?

                  The WBS is also often used in lessons-learned sessions after the conclusion of a project.

                  Issue Tracking

                  All projects have issues—some are more disruptive than others in preventing projects from being completed on time, on budget, and delivering business value.

                  It is critical for the success of your projects and your portfolios to have a robust issue tracking function in your PPM software. Portfolio and project managers need timely information about issues and project risks.

                  The project issue tracking process:

                  • Identifies issues
                  • Quantifies the issue’s impact on the project
                  • Assigns the issue to an owner
                  • Provides updates on the issue
                  • Assigns timelines for resolution
                  • Notifies stakeholders

                  Project Portfolio Management software supports the tracking process and manages issues across the entire project portfolio. The project issue log enables you to identify trends, know the resources that can be assigned to resolve issues, and understand the impact of an issue on the portfolio.

                  Timesheets

                  Tracking resources’ time and comparing it with planned time is essential to avoid projects going off the rails. Your PPM solution needs to track resource utilization at the project level as well as at the task level. This is done by the timesheet function of your PPM solution.

                  Having timesheet data answers project level questions such as:

                  • Who worked on Project A last week?
                  • How many hours did we allocate for Task A vs. how many hours were actually spent?
                  • Did we exceed our project budget?

                  Timesheet data answers questions across the entire portfolio as well:

                  • What is the average amount of time we spend performing repetitive Task A?
                  • How much money have we spent doing Task B?  Should we outsource this?
                  • Who is our fastest coder?

                  Timesheet data is also critical in forecasting project length and the resources needed for similar future projects.

                  Project Portfolio Management is Critical to Your Success

                  As you’ve seen, Project Portfolio Management is a complex process that requires software to implement properly. It is a critical function that keeps projects running on time and on target.

                  Project management ensures that your initiatives deliver! And PPM software helps ensure that your projects are a success.

                  To learn more about the additional benefits that PPM can deliver please read the “Definitive Guide to Project Portfolio Management.”

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