Running a project is hard. Now imagine being responsible for a portfolio of projects. Your workload has just multiplied exponentially.
That means the project management tool you use to run your project is going to have to step up to the plate and handle much more than it already does. Is your current software up to the task?
When you’re managing a portfolio of projects, you must consider a variety of different things. It might be that you’re responsible for a small group of programs or projects. It could even be a collection of other portfolios, all with their own programs and projects.
You can see how complicated this can get. That’s why it’s crucial for you to have a project portfolio software with the right tools to manage all the many parts of the portfolio that you’re responsible for managing.
Yes, that means you must decide on the right software. That is a job in and of itself, maybe not as complicated as running a portfolio of programs and projects, but it can still be daunting.
To make that choice easier, you want to select a product with the features that are essential to portfolio management. What are the tools that will help you properly monitor and oversee the large landscape of a portfolio of programs and projects?
What Does Project Portfolio Management Software Do?
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software is specially designed to support PPM projects, program management, PMOs and/or executives or leaders with oversight of multiple projects or programs across an enterprise. More than just project management software, PPM tools support the planning, management and reporting of multiple projects and programs, and often includes the tools needed to manage tasks and resources across those projects and programs, too.
Before detailing the basic features your portfolio software should have, it’s a good idea to get a clear picture of what your portfolio management needs are. Depending on the size and structure of the organization, portfolios might be managed by a team or even a more formal group, such as a project management office (PMO). It’s important to document the management and reporting needs of the PMO or group when you’re beginning your software search.
Common functions of project portfolio management software might be:
- Plan multiple projects and programs
- Manage tasks and teams across the organization
- Allocate resources and track time across the portfolio or entire organization
- Manage schedules and calendars across the organization
- Manage costs across projects
- Manage risks, issues and changes
- Support collaboration across the enterprise
- Report on projects and portfolios across the enterprise
PPM software can help managers, as well as teams. It’s important to look for a PPM tool that supports everyone on the project.
What Features Do You Need in PPM Software?
When you ask your software to manage tasks, teams and budgets across an suite of projects, you need a strong core set of tools to get the job done right. So, when you’re shopping for portfolio project management (PPM) software, make sure it features these tools.
Real-Time PPM Dashboards
If you’re landlocked with a desktop that must have all its data manually inputted, then you’re always going to be one step behind the portfolio you’re managing. However, when your software is cloud-based, you can gather real-time data on your project. That means you’re now responding to what’s happening in the project right now, and therefore those decisions are more accurate.
This is crucial if you’re managing one or dozens of projects. You want to have access to your portfolio, no matter where you are or what time it might be. If you have access to the internet, you can get the business intelligence you require on the software dashboard.
The real-time PPM dashboard provides an overview of the portfolios you’re managing. Through easy-to-read graphs and charts, which are instantly populated with the most current data available, you can see at-a-glance your portfolio’s performance, the teams’ workloads, project budgets and task status across all your projects and teams you manage.
If you need more detailed information, it’s no further than a click of your keyboard. You can filter the graphs and charts of your dashboard to reflect the metrics you want, but if you need to drill down into the data, it’s all there for you in real-time.
Portfolio Gantt Chart
One of the advantages of a strong Gantt chart is that it can link tasks. Many tasks are dependent on other tasks. You can’t start one until you’ve finished another one, so with the better online Gantt charts, you can link those tasks so they automatically adjust when dates change.
With a portfolio Gantt chart, not only can you link project tasks within a project, but you can link task dependencies across all your projects in a group or portfolio. These tasks on the Gantt chart can also be used as a platform on which to attach files and other media related to the task. Teams can even initiate group discussions at the task level, so that no one is ever out of the loop.
Another advantage of a portfolio Gantt chart is the roadmap view. You can see a Gantt view of all your projects rolled up in one view of the entire roadmap. You can drill down to see project tasks, or snap all the subtasks up into the overall project view, so you can see the progress of each project in relation to each other. Now you have visibility over the whole portfolio, rather than the more myopic look at one project at a time.
The right portfolio management software is going to support thousands of tasks, and it will also be able to roundtrip any task lists or files you might have on other software, such as Excel of Microsoft Project. That way, if your organization uses MS Project, you don’t have to go through the byzantine nightmare of editing through expensive licensing.
Enterprise Resource Management
Managing resource workload is important. If you’re overburdening some teams while other are under-tasked, you’re threatening not only the success of the portfolio, but the morale and productivity of your teams.
Therefore, another tool for portfolio management is a resource management tool, which gives you a way to see the workload of your teams across the entire portfolio of projects and/or programs you manage. Now you can see who has too much work and who doesn’t have enough, and you can easily reallocate your resources to balance out the workload.
With an enterprise resource management tool, you can set your project and team calendar with holidays for global teams, as well as global working hours, to get better visibility when allocating team members. This makes your scheduling more accurate with less cause to change things later in the project.
PPM Reporting Features
Reports are part of your job, whether you’re working on one project or a portfolio of them. Reporting can be time consuming. Gathering data and then organizing it to fit your target audience. Not to mention creating and disseminating those reports.
You can streamline this entire process with the right project portfolio management software. If you’re making a report for your team or your stakeholders, the data within is going to be very different. Teams want details, while stakeholders are more interested in broad strokes to make sure the project is progressing this on schedule. We’ve already discussed the benefits of a real time portfolio dashboard. But sometimes you also need to drill down into more detailed reports.
A variety of reports are available in one click:
- Portfolio status reports
- Timesheet reports
- Availability reports
- Workload reports
- Variance reports
- expense reports
- and more.
You’ll want to customize reports with ease. By customizing reports easily with a pulldown menu, choosing what metrics you want to reflect in your report, you can create the right report for the right audience with a minimum of hassle. Then sharing is a simple command, whether for viewing online or downloading offline to print or email.
The most successful PMOs and program managers know that collaboration is the key to successful project communication, which has a direct impact on project success rates. And today’s PPM leaders also know that collaboration supports innovation, which is key to strategic alignment across the enterprise.
With an enterprise online PPM tool, teams can collaborate on tasks, sharing information on the task level and attaching pertinent documents and files. And when your PPM software has a mobile app, those teams can collaborate anywhere and at any time, which is perfect for remote or global project management.
ProjectManager.com is not only a great project management software, but has the power to scale up for your project portfolio management, too. Being a cloud-based tool, you get real-time dashboards, an online Gantt chart, enterprise resource management, great reporting features and a collaborative platform for you and your team to work more efficiently and productively together. See how it can help manage your portfolio by taking this free 30-day trial.