If you are a Remedy Project Manager or you belong to Project Management Office, then it is normal to face a situation when several projects are running in parallel. To overview and follow all of them can be a very difficult task. In this direction, some tools have been developed to complement traditional project management tools (like Microsoft Project) to allow multi-project or project portfolio management.
In this post I will review the two heavyweights of project portfolio management and a new promising opensource tool.
What’s project portfolio management?
Project Managers normally focus on the management on one or a few projects at the same time. The reduced number of projects allow them to understand the evolution of all of them. A project manager is normally aware of main risks, the time schedule and budget of its projects. But when we go up one level in our organization’s hierarchy, we can found the Project Management Office (PMO), or a similar business unit, that needs to control the execution of tens or hundreds of projects. Here a member of the PMO has not enough time to get into the detail of each project. The PMO needs a general overview of the projects, identifying their status and principal characteristics like: budget evolution, risk analysis and so on. This set of projects, know as the project portfolio, needs to be managed in a very different way than the standard project management, and classic project management tools (like Microsoft Project or Redmine) are useless.
In this direction a new set of tools has been created, the PPMs, or Project Portfolio Managers. These tools complement the classic management tools, providing an information and management link between the project managers and the PMO.
The main characteristics that a PPM must achieve are:
- Investment and project authorization control.
- Risk analysis.
- Project evolution in terms of scope, time and budget (both costs and payments).
- Easy overview through dashboards
The three assessed tools on this review can be customized to fit your needs.
CA Clarity PPM
One of the two top-PPM tools. CA Clarity PPM is mainly focused on investment control. In this direction the tool allows controlling the investment relationships between projects, ROI of the project, direct charging of costs, and the most out-standing feature: the what-if scenarios, that allow the PMO to simulate different alternatives, selecting the best one in terms or risk reduction or early return.
It is also important the multi-tier structure of portfolio management where a department PMO can control its projects and a company PMO can oversee the all departments projects.
HP PPM Center
With the acquisition of Mercury Interactive, HP added the HP Project and Portfolio Management Center to its product catalog. The main characteristic of HP PPM is that it is mainly focused to software development. So If your company is not IT related, this product is not for you (or prepare your budget to allow customization). But we are talking about Remedy’s developments, so it completely fits this task.
The project management under an IT point of view clearly out stands the provided by CA Clarity PPM. But maybe the financial part of projects (investment control, billing, budget evolution, …) is not as mature as in the case of CA’s tool. In fact, billing is completely missing. Maybe the reason is the out-of-the-box integration with financial tools.
In general terms I can state that HP PPM Center provide a better control of main project aspects like risks or evolution, but with a lack in financial and resource planning activities.
OpenPPM and Talaia
OpenPPM is a newborn with a completely different paradigm. Previous products have been deployed in a large number of companies and had proved its value. But this new product can be of interest and its evolution must be closely followed.
The first difference between OpenPPM and HP’s and CA’s solutions is the GPL license. Yes, it is free of licensing cost.
The second difference it that it has been designed from scratch following the PM-BOK recommendations. So if your organization’s project management is driven by PM-BOK best practices, you’ll find on OpenPPM a tool that perfetly fits your needs and language.
As CA’s tool, OpenPPM is closely related to investment control, where the PMO can approve the investments and control the budget in terms of costs and payments. But also, as PM-BOK recommends, it is highly focused on risk management, where a PM Officer can review the main risks in a moment and act consistently in time.
When compared to HP PPM Center and CA Clarity PPM it can be described as simpler (and easier to use) and cheaper. So if you can’t afford the deployment of a tool like HP PPM or CA Clarity PPM, you should consider OpemPPM as an alternative.
Also, OpenPPM is mainly supported by SM2 Baleares and its Talaia business line, providing professional services.