To assist project managers, managed service providers (MSP), and business leaders everywhere with the never-ending evaluation, planning, and execution of projects, project portfolio management (PPM) software solutions offer a central platform for organizing and managing projects.
Whether it’s managing your own business or evaluating multiple business lines, PPM can help harness insights for decision-making. This article looks at the best project portfolio management solutions, what PPM software is and entails, and what to consider when choosing a PPM solution.
Best PPM Software Solutions
In December 2020, multinational software developer Adobe acquired work management platform Workfront for $1.5 billion. Workfront, the famous marketing collaboration software hailing from Lehi, Utah, since 2001, is now a part of Adobe’s Creative and Experience Cloud portfolio of solutions. Workfront has 13 built-in integrations to sync critical data with apps like G Suite, Jira, Slack, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Prospective clients can choose from Team, Pro, Business, and Enterprise plans with features for a dozen areas of work management.
Adobe Workfront Features
- A central dashboard showing project needs, available resources, and task progress.
- Set goals, log tasks, and track progress with real-time alerts for change management.
- Custom templates and automation for common workflows.
- Visual resource management tools to make informed decisions on project workloads.
- Collaborate with team members on projects where they live instead of alternative apps.
Launched in 2008 by Facebook alum Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, Asana is the project management platform serving 126,000 customers across 190 countries. Available with an Asana Business or Enterprise plan, the San Francisco-based vendor’s PPM solution is Asana Portfolios. Asana’s project management platform offers something for every organization stakeholder, and its PPM capabilities rely on its broader PM functionality. This includes workload management, project status updates, and tracking through various visual perspectives.
Asana Portfolios Features
- Central platform with real-time monitoring and reporting of project and portfolio progress.
- Develop and track a resource management plan to visualize team bandwidth.
- Evaluate project data through List, Board, Timeline, Calendar, and Dashboard views.
- Utilize task templates for projects with similar workflows.
- Connected apps include Azure, Google, MuleSoft, Okta, ServiceNow, and Splunk.
In May 2022, work management vendor Mavenlink and professional services automation (PSA) company Kimble Applications announced their merger into the newest name in project management software, Kantata. The new brand’s portfolio includes products for managing resources, finances, projects, team collaboration, business intelligence (BI), and integrations. With expertise in professional services projects, Kantata’s enterprise clients include Genpact, Hitachi, Salesforce, and Target.
Kantata Project Management Features
- Proactive change management with accessible project data from a central console.
- Reduce manual processes and set automated workflows with reusable templates.
- Connect project scopes, schedules, and budgets to view operations comprehensively.
- Utilize Gantt charts, timelines, and task views to collaborate through projects.
- Connect critical apps incl. G Suite, HubSpot, SAP, MuleSoft, Qualtrics, and Microsoft.
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Microsoft Project, the software giant’s project management software, has long offered the features seen in today’s most popular platforms. Initially developed in the early 1980s, rights to Project were acquired by Microsoft in 1985 and have been a part of the vendor’s stack ever since. For Windows-centric organizations, giving Microsoft 365 Project a shot is a no-brainer. Prospective clients have six plans to consider between three cloud-based editions and on-premises solutions. Unfortunately, Project Plan 5 is the only solution with optimization for weighing project proposals.
Microsoft Project Features
- Platform including project home and Grid, Board, and Timeline views.
- Scheduling tools to assign tasks across project views.
- Integration with Microsoft Teams for group communication and collaboration.
- Enterprise resource planning, demand management, and a desktop client.
- Project Standard and Professional 2021 editions and Project Server for on-premises.
A decade after monday.com’s founding, the Tel Aviv-based project and process management platform lives up to its reputation as one of the most intuitive PM platforms. While monday.com is a general project management software that can empower business leaders to team members, it’s also well-suited for PPM. Organizations can improve transparency and decision-making with central project boards and customizable KPIs to track progress across the portfolio. With over 150,000 global customers, monday.com offers teams a user-friendly interface and the flexibility to manage project data as needed.
monday.com PPM Features
- Visualize project data in Kanban, dashboards, and multiple custom tables.
- Create, organize, and search data by common conditions for project workflows.
- Collaborate with task comments, file sharing, and flexible notification settings.
- Start fast with monday.com’s customizable PPM templates for clients’ tailored plans.
- Insights into portfolio and project health, profitability, and resource allocation.
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Founded in 1996, Planisware today is defined by its enterprise PPM solutions and specialties in areas like strategy, financial planning, engineering, application, and product management. Alongside the Planisware Enterprise solution, Planisware Orchestra is the company’s project portfolio solution optimizing workloads, workflows, resource allocation, reporting, and collaboration. Available as an on-premises or SaaS solution, Planisware Orchestra includes a long list of features for managing demand, projects, documents, quality, and configuration. The San Francisco-based vendor currently serves over 300,000 users across 40 countries.
Planisware Orchestra Features
- Resource management by type, job function, skills, and organization.
- Configure menus, reports, forms, and workflows via Orchestra Designer.
- An infinite number of tree structure portfolios for evaluating projects.
- Compare scenarios and assessment indicators for prioritizing tasks.
- Analyze project business cases by decisions made for adjustments to decision-making.
While Planview’s story begins in Austin, Texas, in 1989, it would take until 1997 to release its first PPM solution. Since adopting a SaaS model in 2010, Planview’s history in the last decade has been chock-full of M&A activity, including the acquisition of competing PM solution providers, Changepoint and Clarizen, in 2021. Today, the Planview portfolio includes management solutions for PSA, product portfolios, value streams, agile enterprise planning, and strategic portfolios. Unlike general PM solutions like Asana and monday.com, Planview’s PPM is ideal for budding to mature PMOs specializing in project portfolios.
- Develop a strategic roadmap and processes to optimize portfolio projects.
- Visualize dependencies between business capabilities, projects, and tech utilized.
- Connect business context with technology to improve workloads continually.
- Scenario modeling for impacts and trade-offs of funding or resource reallocation.
- Connect apps like Microsoft, Atlassian, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and ServiceNow.
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Starting in 2005, Smartsheet has become one of the dominant project management platforms in recent years, serving more than 80,000 global customers. From onboarding to creating and monitoring projects, the Smartsheet platform offers an accessible UX, robust configurability, and no-code tools to optimize business operations. While Smartsheet leans higher in pricing relative to competitors, the Bellevue, Washington-based software developer offers teams a powerful PM platform with the flexibility to meet niche team needs.
Smartsheet PPM Features
- Define strategic goals at the organization level and scale portfolios with ease. Align business objectives across portfolio projects for process optimization.
- Multi-tier intake tool to gather requests and form hierarchies between programs.
- Automate workflows and retrieval of data for reporting on portfolio projects.
- Integrate apps like Google, Jira, Microsoft, Salesforce, Tableau, and ServiceNow.
Ireland-based Teamwork is a project and team management platform that’s experienced exponential growth over the last few years. Already serving 4 million users and 20,000 teams, Teamwork offers a robust work management platform to plan, collaborate, deliver, and report project data. A specialist in time tracking and workload management, Teamwork can help any business leader get control of how resources are allocated across projects. Like monday.com, the Teamwork platform includes a long list of PM capabilities with the extended capacity to serve as a PPM solution.
Teamwork PPM Features
- Central dashboard for a strategic overview of project activity and insights.
- Create and set project-level tags, risks, dashboards, and project templates for re-use.
- Generate and share project and portfolio data reports with Excel, PDF, or CSV.
- Set triggers to automate administrative workflows and ease progress towards a goal.
- Integrate tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Hubspot, Quickbooks, Xero, and Zapier.
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Founded in the early cloud days of 2006, Wrike’s success as a leading enterprise project management software platform led to its acquisition of $2.25 billion by Citrix Systems in March 2021. Now a part of Citrix’s suite of digital workspace solutions, Wrike offers clients a powerful platform for managing an entire portfolio of projects down to individual team member tasks. Wrike’s customer base includes over 20,000 companies across 140 countries, and its PPM capabilities include a long list of use cases.
Wrike PPM Features
- Project data views including table, list, Gantt, Kanban, analytics, and time logs.
- Shared team calendars for scheduling critical dates and deadlines around projects.
- Custom request forms to capture opportunities with value, priority, budget, and risk data.
- Automation pipelines for reducing manual overheard and easing workflows.
- Cost estimates, intelligent budgeting, and time tracking to evaluate projects.
Honorable Mention PPM Solutions
What Is Project Portfolio Management?
Project portfolio management (PPM) is the processes and systems project and portfolio managers employ to analyze and manage business operations. In the digital transformation era, PPM software is increasingly necessary to collect, organize, and visualize data for project planning and execution purposes.
Along the way, project management offices (PMOs) also entered the picture. An internal PMO with a dedicated team or department can do just that for enterprise organizations with enough resources to standardize project management operations. External PMOs similarly offer their project management expertise to clients who can’t afford to hire full-time project managers.
What is PPM Software?
PPM software solutions are the platforms and tools providing project leads and C-Suite executives the access and visibility into portfolio projects and the status of workflows.
Benefits of PPM Software
- Analyze and standardize overarching management philosophies
- Increase collaboration and alignment between team members
- Real-time visibility into processes and operations
- Identify project returns, risks, technology, and business context
- More insights to make decisions and more time for other tasks
Project Management Software vs. PPM Software
Making things complicated, the growth of the project management (PM) software sector means PM software and PPM software are easy to confuse.
PM software is the collection of tools and platforms for individuals, teams, and organizations to execute project tasks and workflows. With an emphasis on Portfolio, PPM software aims to give PMOs, project managers, and organization leaders a high-level perspective of a set of projects.
While this distinction exists in theory, looking at the top PM and top PPM solutions shows plenty of overlap. Multiple PM software platforms offer the high-level capabilities sought for PPM use cases.
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PPM Software Features
- Various ways to view and interact with portfolio and project data.
- View project data via Kanban, Gantt, Calendar, Dashboards, and Workload views.
- Ability to import existing project data from CSV, Excel, and Google Sheets files.
- Manipulate project and portfolio processes at team and organization levels.
- Organize, filter, and search for data under a range of conditions
- Automate workflows to reduce manual efforts and administrative overhead.
- Integrate critical third-party application data for unified workflows.
How to Choose a PPM Solution
At first glance, the project management software market can appear generic, with many sharing similar features from workflow automation pipelines to how organizations visualize data. However, after a deep dive into using and researching the top PPM tools, we believe there is enough to differentiate the market.
Solutions that lean towards general PM solutions like Microsoft Project, monday.com, and Asana, are robust solutions for project management, but their portfolio management capabilities aren’t as straightforward. Meanwhile, PPM specialists like Planisware and Planview may not be as well-known within the broader market yet offer more focus on enterprise PPM capabilities.
With a range of pricing options between annual and monthly licensing, organizations must weigh the expected use against a sometimes hefty cost. In fairness to the PPM software market, the extent of features offered is more than justified with the right team utilization.
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