Managing a complex portfolio of programs and projects is no easy task. If spreadsheets and slide decks just aren’t cutting it, it’s time for a Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) tool. But before you run to Google and select the first tool you see, slow down and do your research.
There are several tools out there today, including many that are cloud-based. Don’t buy just any PPM tool. Get the right fit for your organization. You need a tool that will support your business and make it easier to manage your portfolio. You already have enough headaches – adding a PPM tool does not need to become another one.
Consider these 8 factors carefully when comparing PPM tools:
1. The degree to which the software fulfills your Functional Business Requirements
Let’s look at an example: The top level of your organization wants to see information centering on the value proposition of current and future-state projects in the pipeline. They need a PPM tool that performs enterprise-wide strategic road mapping and has decision management tools that display reports, dashboards and key metrics. Whereas at the project level, your organization needs a central location to maintain and communicate the schedule, scope, cost and project information.
Which need is more important? Which tool can do this the best? Make sure you map and prioritize your requirements as each tool will excel in different areas.
2. Intuitiveness and ease of navigation between input and reporting screens
If the tool is too complicated, your users will become frustrated and adoption will be impacted. Large organizations may require a tool with every bell and whistle, but is that what your company needs? Maybe “drag and drop” functionality is more important to the end-user than having a myriad of options that require level after level of clicks.
Bottom line: The more difficult it is to enter data, the less likely it is that this data will be good enough to enable decisions.
3. Integration with other systems
Does the tool communicate with your finance, collaboration (SharePoint) or time reporting tools? Most tools will be able to export data as a spreadsheet that can be manipulated to then import into the next tool, but is this acceptable?
Some vendors offer APIs that can be customized to facilitate communication between two unrelated systems. Find out if this comes at an extra cost.
4. System Performance
System up times, response times and other performance metrics may not be top of mind today. We’re used to snappy smartphones and websites, but some of the PPM tools lag noticeably more than others. Is mobile access and functionality important for your business? Ask for system performance statistics.
5. Cost of the Tool
Do you have the budget? How does the vendor price the tool? Subscription models are much more common in today’s SaaS environment. There may be “seat license pricing” with different tiers of users. Some vendors require a contract while others let you pay month-to-month. What works best for you and your budget?
6. Implementation and Sustaining Support
Who will be involved with implementation? Who will manage the tool once it is in place? Often PPM tools are expected to solve resource management problems. If your employees are already over allocated, you cannot expect them to contribute to a long, involved implementation process. The value, approach, and quality of implementation consulting and support services must be considered.
Will the vendor be there when you need support? Completeness and quality of responses to RFP questions can be an indication of the quality of service to expect in the future.
7. Independent reviews of each tool
Ratings and evaluation from independent software review organizations are important, but recognize that your needs are unique. Remember, you don’t want the tool that can do everything, you want the tool that excels at meeting your specific requirements.
8. Feedback from references
Satisfaction feedback from other clients of the tool is extremely valuable. The vendor will only refer you to satisfied clients so ask for contacts who can speak to your target areas of concern. You are not going to hear about problems with the software unless you seek them out. Leverage your contacts and talk to both top level and project level users.
Use these factors to help start your requirements gathering process. Be sure the end users are included in the selection process and ask questions specifically related to your processes during demonstrations.
Praxis Can Help You Implement A PPM Tool
Let us help you through this process. We focus on finding the right solution to meet your business needs and PM processes.