7 Core Ways Companies Use Project Portfolio Management Tools

9 min read

Project portfolio management can drive your organization’s growth when used correctly. It makes a huge difference in various aspects, as it can provide a full view of your past, ongoing, and future projects and it helps you gain insights from them.

But it`s better to use Project Portfolio Management software to implement it in your organization. No matter if it’s MS Project or Smartsheet, or even Jira – it’s vital to use one of them (or all of them). Why? Let’s dive into the details.

What is Project Portfolio Management All About

Let’s turn to a trusted source: according to Project Management Institute, Project portfolio management (or PPM):

PPM is the centralized management of one or more portfolios that enable executive management to meet organizational goals and objectives through efficient decision-making on portfolios, projects, programs, and operations.

Project Management Institute

The main task of portfolio management in the company is to:

  1. Define the potential future projects
  2. Estimate their similarities and differences in the planning stage
  3. Assign them to responsible project managers to coordinate them
  4. Add them to the portfolio to control them and coordinate the whole process

In basics, portfolio management is a kind of mediator between the whole company`s strategy and projects, coordinated internally and/or externally.

The main goal – is to destroy the gap between the company`s strategy and its implementation. How do we do this?

By scaling the effectiveness through mindful resource planning, external and internal risks estimation and mitigation, and all of this under visible and proper decision-making processes.

We speak about it like scientists. But we don’t. Let`s make it simpler:

Project portfolio management is an opportunity to gather all your projects in one pocket (Microsoft Project for example) to understand the future opportunities of using your resources more wisely within these projects.

PPM Express Marketing Team

Difference between Project Management vs Project Portfolio Management

Firstly, portfolio management is like a bird-view of all your projects within one (or many) organization. It helps you focus on coordinating a few separate projects at one pace.

As a result – we are achieving the company`s goals at the strategic level.

Compared with PPM, project management is a set of tools, actions, and people combined to achieve a unique, simple (even as simple as possible and sometimes – tactical) organizational goal.

So, we can notice, that project portfolio management is like an umbrella. It covers all the projects (all chosen ones) under it and helps visioners and strategists to collect and process data to act accordingly to it (data, of course) to make the right decisions.

Portfolio management focuses on balancing multiple projects that assist with achieving the long-term goals of a company, while project management focuses on achieving a unique, short-term goal for a company.

Why project portfolio management is important

As we mentioned before, PPM is a mediator, a bridge, an umbrella, and a lot of other useful things.

But in the context of the organization, the vital purpose of project portfolio management (and its managers) is to coordinate and finalize the right projects within the right time, with minimum money, and with the smallest team of people possible with the purpose of ensuring ROI (return on investments) growth.

Sounds important and complex, right?

No matter if your company develops internal and/or external projects – PPM can help you see the whole picture of what is going on.

Project portfolio management is necessary to understand which projects will have the largest beneficial impact on the company and prioritize them accordingly.

What are Project Portfolio Manager Responsibilities?

The main duty project portfolio managers have is to find, assess, approve, or decline project and program ideas, which in the future can become a part of the project portfolio.

If we go further, there are some more responsibilities (according to Glassdoor):

  • Provide client consultation to develop investment objectives
  • Provide advice and guidance for investment opportunities to customers
  • Create reports on investment performance and activity
  • Communicate with clients about their accounts, market conditions, and economic trends
  • Manage equity and bond portfolios to maximize investment returns
  • Commensurate acceptable levels of risk based on client instructions
  • Handle financial products as required
  • Work together with investment research teams to identify investment opportunities

And the key duty is that Project Portfolio Manager in the best way knows how to coordinate all his working tasks within PPM tools, like MS Project, Jira Software Smartsheet, Monday.com, etc.

This tools category counted more than a hundred different “players” (from gigantic MS Project and Jira Software and fast and relatively simple Trello). So let`s dive even deeper into how it works and why we need PPM tools in our day-to-day activities.

Why Use Project Portfolio Management Software?

Regardless of the management style of the project leader, PPM software can elevate a team’s productivity because they would gain access to the necessary tools and information for their jobs like dashboards, resource planning tables, backlogs, and tasks.

Sometimes even if the project information is presented in separate solutions – PPM tools could connect each of your projects in one network, no matter if there scattered widely in your organization. Yes, like connecting your Azure DevOps with Microsoft Project, and Monday.com.

But reasons to use on top of it all, the right application adapts to your team’s existing workflows, allowing everyone to become more efficient without undergoing radical changes in your working routine.

What’s more, you can steer your organization to become inventive by taking cues from other companies that find different ways to use project portfolio management solutions.

So, let`s review seven of the most important reasons to choose PPM to support project management activities.

PPM is for the creation and collection of complete requirements for projects

Completing a project without gathering all the requirements beforehand is a tall order. It leads to delays that cost both the company and the client money. However, you can prevent this situation when you have PPM software as your aide.

Among the project portfolio management tools are scheduling and resource planning. These allow you to outline your project structure as well as the different phases and what you need to deliver on the deadlines.

When you know when you have to finish a certain task, you can collect the information and resources required to complete them way beforehand.

On top of that, you can see how each task is related to others so you know when to have the relevant data and tools ready. Additionally, a PPM solution lets you create a centralized store of knowledge. This means that anyone with the right access permissions can view the information they need to produce high-quality outputs.

Like based on the Smartsheet and Microsoft Project management software information you`ve prepared Power BI dashboards and now want to share them with your colleagues to speak about workload and resource utilization. Practically useful.

This is complemented by the ability to show whether you are overusing or underusing resources to create a balance that lets you achieve your goals within the set timeline.

Inserting visibility into the project portfolios with ease

When you are implementing project portfolio management you can answer a lot of questions, like:

  • How can project management change the game?
  • It gives you answers to some of your most crucial questions, like how many projects are you handling at the moment?
  • How many more projects are you capable of putting on your plate?
  • Do you have enough resources to delegate for these new projects?

It even assists you in selecting the right projects to take on so that your team is not overwhelmed by responsibilities. You can also check for possible issues that may affect your plans for taking on new projects.

Doing so can ensure that your employees are well-equipped and, most especially, have the time to take on additional duties.

As a Project Manager, you`re always staying on top of changes with PPM

Information is always a key factor in project management so you must have a complete overview of your team’s project activities and overall performance.

It also makes project management less difficult to do when you have an idea about what has changed since the last time you launched your project-related applications.

This is possible when you have a dashboard where you can find real-time updates around-the-clock: you can connect different platforms’ data from Azure DevOps and MS Project to one dashboard within one PPM solution.

Since it offers visualized data, it is easy for you to spot the changes and there is no longer any need for you to drill down into the details when all you require is a fast look. As a result, you can be quick in making smart decisions that can affect the outcome of your efforts.

All your project team decisions are based on data via PPM

The world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily at a fast speed that is driven by the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT), as reported in a Forbes article.

Since about 3.7 billion people are using the Internet, this is no surprise. Your team, your clients, and your partners are, of course, contributing to this, too. But that is in the general scheme of things. While it is helpful to have as much data as possible, it can hurt your business when you are misusing it.

85% of companies in industries ranging from aviation to utilities are not using their data. Your organization does not have to be one of them.

Though you may focus mostly on real-time information and forecasts, past data can be beneficial. Among the portfolio planning tools available is historical reporting. You can generate standard or custom reports on your timesheets, expenses, portfolio, and other aspects.

With the insights you can gain from the past, you can steer your project, and the company in general, towards the better path.

Plus, you can avoid the errors you made in previous undertakings!

PPM`s creating a synergy of tools within PMO

The project portfolio management process involves multivarious tools and solutions that can be conflicting when not handled properly. With the right software, you can surmount the problem of seemingly incompatible platforms.

That is because you would have access to connectors that let you link projects regardless of the file type (MPP files or CSV – doesn’t matter), your different cloud (MS Project Online, Azure DevOps, etc.), and on-premises (MS Project Desktop) applications, and numerous PM and PPM tools.

When you have synchronized these things, you can protect your investments and maximize them for as long as possible. What’s more, you can streamline the flow of data between them so that you only have a single truth.

Overall resource management possibilities appear with PPM

We all know that our resources are limited – we are only human. The same situation if we`re considering an organization.

PPM, as an approach, was created to build a complex but managed system, where you can not only collect your projects to see how many there are.

You are doing it to understand (for example), where the X resource is already used, why the Y resource is working only 57,89% of its possible workload, and how to transfer free opportunities to achieve the best ROI results.

Project portfolio management provides you with a system of four key elements of resources planning:

  • Hybridity – even if one of your projects is Agile, others are Waterfall – you can see the whole picture, with details that are necessary exactly to you in a certain period of time to make a managerial decision
  • Configurability – now you can see, where all your accessible resources are used, and how they are used. All weaknesses and strengths are right here, in one window
  • Record – all information about resources is fixed in the same directory. So, there is no need to collect all data from Frank and George; Jira, and/or MS Project. You just open the PPM link and use all the information needed from the past.
  • Intelligence – dashboards, which are connecting data from different systems, without bugs; unified and simple.

To be more efficient we need not just to collect resources but use them properly according to our strategy. But if we don’t see the results of our work and the possibilities to use all our potential – how we could be effective enough?

Supplement risk management with more predictable inputs

Managing a project is all about the risk of its implementation. So, Project Managers all over the world are trying to solve the problem: how to identify, assess, measure, and manage risk within the project and further – in the portfolio?

The answer is simple – PPM can help you. Portfolio risk management consists of two components:

  • Total portfolio risk tolerance
  • Risk management of specific portfolio-level risks

Here is what it looks like within the portfolio lifecycle.

But it`s not about the theory of risk management – how can the PPM tool help to solve the risk concern? We`ll be frank: easy. Here are the three most common solutions for how to work within a risky environment with PPM software:

  • PPM helps you define the total risk size within all your projects

As we mentioned before, PPM tools can help you connect all your projects into one place to estimate not only resources and deadlines but also the risks they cause.

So, imagine: every project has its own risk grade, and all this information is presented in the Power BI dashboard where you can see the total portfolio risk estimation: you can not only get risk grade – how it affects your project but also understand is it impact on the whole portfolio.

  • Real-time risk manipulation (identify, track, and resolve project risks as tasks)

If you see the whole picture, you don’t wait – you react. Portfolio software provides not just place a widget that tells you “The risk is moderate” but can help you be more proactive – create tasks to solve the risk or to mitigate it.

  • Automated actions as a Trigger to establish the Risk Alerts

PPM tools even can help you to be aware of risk urgently – send you alerts about red deadlines (we don’t like them, neither do you?), overwhelming resource workload, etc.

Project management is all about risk mitigation and the PPM tool is the right way to reduce risk impact on your portfolio and projects within it.

Your Goal Shouldn’t Be to Select the Right PPM Tool

There are numerous portfolio management tools (Microsoft Project Online and Desktop), Azure DevOps, Jira Software, Smartsheet, etc.) and techniques, but not all may be applicable to your organization. Experimentation may be necessary before you find the right fit for your teams.

Do we have something to advise? Of course.

Project managers love hearing they can continue to use what works best for their teams. So, review to use a third-party tool, that helps you to build PPM by connecting your existing tech stack to your portfolio.

For example, PPM Express can help you save hundreds of hours as an integrated project portfolio management software. You can create a single view by integrating all agile and modern project management tools. And we really mean many of them like Azure DevOps Boards, Jira Software, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Planner, Smartsheet, and Monday.com.

But if you decided to change the PM environment – maybe every of these PPM tools you`re discovering has a trial. Like PPM Express: we provide our newbies a free 30-day trial after the demo.

And don’t be afraid to make mistakes and choose the wrong software. PPM efficiency is all about people, and only then – about the tools.

7 Core Ways Companies Use Project Portfolio Management Tools
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