The project portfolio management (PPM) tool market is crowded. With so many options to choose from – including enterprise software, strategic portfolio management solutions, and work collaboration systems – it’s easy to get lost. This is especially true when organizations cobble their own PPM system together using point tools for things like reporting, document management, workflow, and application integration. With all this in mind, it may seem like many of the vendors on the market are offering very similar if not the same thing. So, without clear evaluation criteria, it can be difficult to decide on the PPM tool that’s best for you.

 

Our Criteria to Evaluate PPM Tool Compatibility

Whether you’re looking at your current PPM solution or trying to find something new, consider key factors like those below to ensure you make the right decision for your team.

  • Functionality. How does the PPM tool work? What features does it have, and how does it fit into your existing workflow? Are you able to manage all the tasks you need in one place? Will you rely on multiple programs or tools?
  • Ease of Use. Ensuring everyone on your team understands how to use your PPM tool is essential. More complicated tools aren’t always better options. Is your PPM software or platform something you’ll be able to quickly learn and utilize? Are there training or support options in place to help?
  • Scope. Some PPM tools are built to handle thousands of tasks, projects, portfolios, etc., and some are not. What are your team’s needs, and how will your PPM tool be able to keep up over time?

You can use these basic criteria to evaluate PPM tools and discover which options are the best fits. Remember, though, that it’s also important to consider organization-specific criteria or procedures that might impact your choice.

 

What Are My Options for a PPM System?

The good news is, if you’re reading this, you’ve likely already identified some key business drivers and pain points that can be addressed through project portfolio management software. This post segments your options into four categories and describes the scenario in which each PPM system makes the most sense.

Together, they represent a complete solution landscape that can steer you in the right initial direction.

With that said, let’s take a closer look at some of the main PPM tool options you’ll encounter as you search for the right match.

 

Status Quo: Classic PPM Through Desktop Tools

Best for: Small teams that complete a few straightforward projects

Of course, you always have the option to do nothing. We would be remiss in not including this option since it is the most popular course of action. And, many times, it is the appropriate option.

When we say “do nothing,” we assume you have not yet invested in a PPM system. Furthermore, this option assumes you rely on a combination of desktop tools (MS Excel, Project, PowerPoint) to track projects and create reports, email for workflow, and share drives for document management.

If your organization completes a relatively small number of repeatable projects or you just don’t have the budget to invest in a purpose-built tool, sticking with what you have can certainly be a rational course of inaction.

 

Project Management (PM) Tools

Best for: Organizations focused on facilitating collaborative project team execution

The priority of most PM tools is ease of procurement, adoption, and use, as well as achieving the fastest business impact and ROI.

Organizations that gravitate toward PM tools are generally less concerned with having access to a ton of features. They are also often willing to forego having a clear growth path in areas like resource, portfolio, and financial management.

If formal structure project management is not a mission-critical core competency and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a major concern, these pay-by-credit-card options are attractive.

 

Enterprise PMO Solutions

Best for: Organizations with an existing PMO that need high-level management tools

Enterprise PMO solutions provide a growth path for organizations at different levels of maturity. They provide a balance of usability and robust functionality in areas like project, program, or portfolio planning and executive reporting. Engaging with enterprise PMO solutions usually involves investing in more of a strategic partnership rather than a transactional relationship with a PPM vendor.

This option assumes there is a PMO or formal project management function in place. It provides a flexible platform for planning and executing multiple project types, such as IT, NPD, and Capital Projects.

 

High-End IT PPM

Best for: Organizations responsible for a high level or quantity of IT processes

The most robust or granular functionality possible in a tool can is particularly important in IT project-focused environments. As such, IT PPM tools include the most sophisticated resource management and capacity planning functionalities.

Consider this approach if you are looking for the most functionally advanced solution for IT PPM and you have ample flexibility in terms of budget and time-to-deployment.

PPM Tool Evaluation Criteria A Framework for Choosing a PPM System

 

PPM Tool Evaluation Criteria Based on Your Needs

The biggest question isn’t whether there are PPM tools out there that meet your needs – it’s which ones tick the right boxes (and which ones don’t).

As you consider your needs—the amount of work you do, how you’d like to manage resources or projects, what areas your team is currently struggling in, etc.—remember to think not only of the present but also the future.

Some solutions provide a quick fix but no growth path for teams planning to mature their processes over time. Other high-end solutions may be too expensive and take too long to implement to achieve user acceptance.

For most project management offices or functions, enterprise PMO platforms like Sciforma provide an optimal balance of usability, robustness, and portfolio- and project-level capabilities. Take a free product tour today to see our software in action and learn how it can help your team achieve your strategic goals.

For more information on PPM tool evaluation criteria, read our complete buyer guide, Selecting the Right Partner.

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Valerie Zeller

Valerie is Sciforma Chief Marketing Officer. Main interests: digital transformation, change management, strategy execution. Send your thoughts @valeriezeller