What is Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Software?
Project Portfolio Management, or PPM, involves overseeing, prioritizing and measuring a group of projects. This work typically involves Project Management professionals and will require the use of specific tools or software to coordinate different projects simultaneously.
Managing an individual project requires an understanding of the tasks and resources involved. This is sometimes referred to as the “Project Management Iron Triangle” which includes scope, time and cost. Managing a portfolio of different projects is naturally an even more complex undertaking.
PPM necessitates balancing demand for resources across multiple projects each with competing timelines. It involves managing costs, returns, risks and dependencies for each project, but also understanding how each of these factors impacts other projects.
Management of portfolios grows increasingly complex as projects are added and demands the use of specialized tools or software to handle calculations that are too complicated or time-consuming for an individual to process.
Below we have gathered a list of different PPM software tools for you to consider. This list is by no means exhaustive, but represents a cross-section of the types of tools that successful companies are currently using to manage their project portfolios.
Best PPM Software
Forecast is AI-native software that allows users to plan, run, and track projects from start to finish in one intelligent automation platform.
Managing multiple projects is straight-forward with the ability to view progress and resources across the entire portfolio. It’s also possible to run reports across all projects to keep track of resources, finances and likelihood of success.
Features include Auto Schedule that assists in project planning and matches resources to tasks automatically, taking into account their skills, availability, and the time it could take them to complete tasks.
Forecast also has embedded analytics known as AvA - which helps users pinpoint the activities across different projects that are fueling or blocking business growth, without the need for messy, manual data analysis.
Customers say: "We’ve been able to facilitate communication internally at a project and portfolio level. Forecast has helped us make huge strides forward. "
Pricing starts at $29 monthly per seat for the Lite plan, but there are also custom pricing options for companies that have specific needs with regards to their project and resource management.
Forecast offers a completely free trial that requires no billing details, simply an email address. Get a 14-day free trial of Forecast.
2. Microsoft Project
Microsoft is a plucky little software company founded in New Mexico in the 1970s… but in all seriousness their suite of software needs no introduction. Microsoft Project may not be as well known as the likes of Excel, PowerPoint and Word, but it’s a powerful pieces of software that can be integrated with Microsoft Teams to enhance internal communication alongside project management.
Automated scheduling, customizable workflows and interactive dashboards are all part of the package and allow for management of multiple projects at once.
Pricing starts at $10 a month per user, but portfolio selection and optimization is only included in the top tier package.
Celoxis blends classic project management with modern agile trends to deliver software that is used by companies across a range of industries. Giving users the ability to tackle delegation, planning and tracking in their native platform that includes an interactive Gantt that can handle 1000s of tasks.
Pricing starts at $22.50 per user, per month for cloud-based service or $450 per-user for on-prem.
Customers say: “We are able to leverage Celoxis globally to track our implementation projects. We have been using Celoxis for a little over three years and are quite happy with it.”
4. Oracle Primavera
Oracle’s Primavera is a well-established piece of software that integrates project and portfolio planning for scheduling, resource management plus upstream portfolio planning. Product features include planning and scheduling of large-scale programs and individual projects; secure multi-user access to schedules and role and resource optimization.
A useful piece of software for projects of varying size and good for companies looking for a tried-and-tested system.
Pricing information is not currently available on their website, users are invited to complete a self-guided demo.
Although Planview doesn’t specialize in PPM software, their Planview PPM ProTM is a mid-tier project portfolio that lets users collect, prioritize and execute projects. Including time-tracking, budget management and team collaboration tools, it’s best used by IT organizations and PMOs looking to standardize execution across project management teams.
Other features include strategic alignment between project portfolios and company goals as well as what-if scenario planning to proactively allocate resources and anticipate constraints.
Customers say: “It is a very useful tool that has helped to foster collaboration among various teams in the organization.”
Planview does not provide pricing details, these are available on request.
Mavenlink provides a complete suite of enterprise tools for project and resource management, including the ability to see what projects are in progress and what’s on the roadmap for the entire program or portfolio. In-built reporting gives you up-to-date information on how projects are progressing, where opportunities exist as well as points of failure.
The Master Planning feature gives you the ability to manage allocations for all resources across your organization. You can view workloads and availability across multiple projects at a glance. Mavenlink also comes with file sharing, task dependencies, built-in timesheets and powerful reporting that can be customized.
Customers say: “We are just starting to reap the benefits of the visibility, insights and better overall management of our work.”
Pricing starts at $19/month.
WorkOtter offers a simple but effective Project Portfolio Management tool that manages the lifecycle of work from project planning through to completion. Offering Ganntt, Kanban and Agile views it integrates directly with JIRA and lets Project Managers focus on key decisions related to capacity, scheduling and budgeting.
WorkOtter offers an alternative to complex enterprise-grade offerings from big technology firms, but still packs a punch with features including time-tracking, resource management and what-if scenario planning. Useful if you need to manage a portfolio of projects with a lightweight process and broad visibility.
Customers say: “WorkOtter has made my workload much easier, leaving me time for more critical tasks.”
Project Portfolio Managment Software Comparison
When comparing different PPM tools it’s important to ask what are you trying to achieve and what qualities fit your particular business needs. If you’re a growing company then it’s important to have a tool that is robust and that can scale with you. Outgrowing your PPM system can lead to unnecessary upheaval as you realize you don’t have access to the scale, features or reliability you require.
It’s also key to consider the role that automation and analytics play in selecting a tool. As you scale you create more admin, more management and more complex processes. This may be manageable if you’re a smaller business, but as you grow it becomes impossible to manually manage and analyze a vast portfolio of projects.
Still looking for more information on how to assess PPM tools' benefits and weaknesses?
Here’s our curated list of useful resources that will tell you all you need to know about PPM:
- Introduction to PPM
This video gives a concise introduction to Project Portfolio Management. If you’re this far into an article on PPM we’re assuming you know what it is! But, this video might be useful for introducing new team-members or colleagues that don’t specialize in project management.
- Choosing a PPM
This article from softwareadvice.com gives a really comprehensive overview of what you need to consider as a Small/Medium Business (SMB) when selecting a PPM, including how PM maturity may influence the decision.
- PPM Market Report
Speaking of softwareadvice.com, we had the pleasure of carrying out an exclusive chat with their Market Research Associate on the state of the market. There are interesting and enlightening statistics on PPM buyers to read up on.
- PPM Podcast
This 40-minute podcast from the Project Management Podcast interviews Jamal Moustafaev about his new book on PPM and what PM professionals can learn from it, including the three pillars of PPM.
- PPM Conference Paper
Although this is an older resource, this paper from the Project Management Institute outlines fundamental concepts and best practices that are relevant and useful to any Project Management Professional.