Top Tool Features for Portfolio Project Managers

Of all the tools being offered for portfolio managers, which are the best? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, looks over the field and reports back.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

tools to help manage project portfolios

In Review: Top Tool Features for Portfolio Project Managers

Jennifer noted that looking at tools for project portfolio management can be daunting. There are hundreds of them, so she narrowed the criterion to focus on only some of the activities that the tools manage, and therefore make it easier to decide what would be right for the portfolio project manager.

Before we get into Jennifer’s report, if you’re interested in what future trends apply to these tools, then take a look at this recent article from our blog.

Jennifer began by looking at what a portfolio can include, including other portfolios. Therefore programs can have sub-programs, which is important to know when shopping for the right tool.

As she explained the complexity inherent in portfolio management, Jennifer said that a bird’s-eye view was of crucial importance, and therefore a good tool would have to offer such a feature.

Therefore, by looking at the activities of your portfolio, the right tools become evident.

Pro-Tip: To get that needed bird’s-eye view, look for tools that group projects and programs, customize dashboards and provide real-time data.

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Today we’re talking about the top tool features for portfolio project managers. Literally, there are hundreds of tools available today for portfolio managers to manage their portfolios effectively. What we want to do today is look at portfolios, some of the activities, and the tool features required.

First of all, let’s look at a graphical representation of a portfolio. A portfolio can even include other portfolios, some people call them sub-portfolios, they can have programs and projects. So portfolios can also have individual projects, as well as programs. These programs can even have programs, or some people call them sub-programs, as well as projects and other operational activities.

Within this portfolio you can see that things can get very complex. So within the portfolio, these are managed as a group. They’re also aligned to the business strategy, and each of them are measured, ranked, and prioritized. So let’s look at some of the portfolio project management activities.

So portfolio manager is responsible for the strategic alignment, again, for measuring, ranking, and prioritizing each of the programs and projects, as they align to the business strategy. They’re also responsible for governance, to ensure that the programs and the projects and all the activities comply with governmental requirements.

They’re also responsible for the portfolio performance, meaning they are required to ensure that those projects and those programs are performing on time and within budget, and also yielding the return on investment for that portfolio. They also are required to conduct risk management, identifying risk and having a plan for how they’re going to mitigate those risks.

They also are responsible for communications management, how to communicate effectively among all the stakeholders, all the organizations, even the program managers and project managers within that portfolio.

So you can see these activities, become now, tool features that are required for the tools. So how does the portfolio manager keep a bird’s eye view, the broader view, of everything going on in their portfolio? Well they need to ensure that the tools that they pick have the features that allow them to group projects and programs, to customize dashboards for all the different levels of people interacting or being impacted by their portfolio, and also be able to provide real-time data.

So what we do now is, we take these portfolio project management activities, and align them to tool features we need. We can also use a tool selection aid, so we can go evaluate the different tools that we’re interested in, evaluate how they handle each and every one of these activities, and then once we do that, we can end up with one or more tools that can help manage the portfolio.

So if you need a tool that can help you manage your portfolio, then sign up for our software now at

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