Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped hundreds of SMBs choose the right PPM software so they can increase project oversight and allocate resources across a project portfolio.

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NetSuite OpenAir

NetSuite OpenAir offers buyers a collection of applications designed to support every stage of the professional services delivery lifecycle. Offered as Software-as-a-Service, the platform includes applications to manage projects, ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 53 recommendations

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NetSuite SRP

NetSuite Professional Services Automation is used by professional services organizations to optimize their project-based operations. The software offers integrated project management, resource management, project-based accounting ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 37 recommendations

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Clarizen

Using Clarizen’s leading collaborative work management solution for the enterprise, businesses can solve challenges far beyond traditional work, project or resource management. With Clarizen’s enterprise-grade solution, teams are ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 28 recommendations

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Project Insight

Project Insight (PI) is the work management hub helping companies manage projects, allocate personnel and track what work is being done throughout the entire organization. The intuitive software aggregates data from high-prod... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 28 recommendations

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Workzone

Workzone is a project management solution that offers document management, project collaboration, customizable reporting, resource and task management and time tracking. The software is cloud-based and offers automated emailed rep... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 27 recommendations

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Quickbase

Quick Base is a low-code application development platform that enables organizations to unite information, people, and workflows within distribution in a single, cloud-based platform. Unlike traditional software solutions, Quick B... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 20 recommendations

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KeyedInFrontRunners 2021

KeyedIn is a cloud-based project management solution for enterprise-level companies offering a suite with features, such as program management, professional services automation and project portfolio management application. The sol... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 18 recommendations

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Easy Projects

Easy Projects is a cloud-based project management platform suitable for midsize organizations and enterprises. Easy Projects provides every contributing team member, project manager, executive, stakeholder or customer with ac... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 16 recommendations

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WorkOtter

WorkOtter is a SaaS project, resource, and portfolio management solution built for teams of 50-200 who demand a simple, sensible, and supportable PPM alternative. Touting over 50 gorgeous, configurable, and full animated dashboard... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

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Sciforma

Sciforma is a cloud-based project and portfolio management solution for enterprises that allows to strategically track and analyze project data and make relevant decisions. It can be sold as a stand-alone portfolio management, pro... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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Cora PPM

Cora Systems provide enterprise project and portfolio management solutions to global organizations and government agencies, such as Honeywell, Elanco, PwC, City of London and the UK’s National Health Service. Their solution, Cora ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 9 recommendations

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monday.com

monday.com, an award-winning collaboration and project management platform, helps teams plan together efficiently and execute complex projects to deliver results on time. monday.com team management and task management tool allows ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

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Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a work execution platform and collaboration tool with a familiar spreadsheet-like interface that helps teams plan, track, and manage projects in real-time. Smartsheet features include a range of project management to... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

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PMware

PMware offers a "ready-to-use" enterprise-class project, portfolio, resource and collaborative work management platform. The software combines robust planning, resource management and in-context collaboration on a single platform ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 5 recommendations

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Mavenlink

Mavenlink offers services and solutions for project management, resource planning, collaboration, and project accounting. Mavenlink combines the robust functionality of a Professional Services Automation solution with intuitive us... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 3 recommendations

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Forecast

Forecast is a full suite solution that helps professional services organizations finetune operations and finances with the help of intelligent project automation. With a focus on increasing predictability and making projects profi... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 1 recommendations

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Trello

Trello is a visual collaboration tool for planning tasks and projects. While commonly used by agile software development teams, the solution is also used in other departments such as marketing, sales, support and HR. The web-based... Read more

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Jira

Jira Software is a business process management tool used by agile teams to plan, track and release software. Jira Software supports Scrum, Kanban, a hybrid model or another unique workflow. Jira enables users to create projec... Read more

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Asana

Asana is a cloud-based project and task management solution that enables teams to collaborate, communicate, and manage several tasks and projects. It can help teams meet project deadlines while tracking the completion of all tasks... Read more

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Buyers guide


Last Updated: April 7, 2021

Project portfolio management software refers to a class of systems that provide support for organizations managing complex and often concurrent projects, i.e., a portfolio.

These systems help increase project awareness and visibility, allowing managers to allocate resources to current and future projects more effectively.

Over time, project portfolio management software offers a wealth of performance data. Decision-makers can better analyze the risk versus reward for different types of project initiatives. This allows leaders to make more informed decisions on the types of projects they choose to fund.

It can be difficult to know when, if ever, your organization should graduate to portfolio management from traditional project management. Adding to the confusion, many vendors straddle the divide and offer solutions that serve both needs.

While the benefits are many, project portfolio management systems are more advanced than traditional project tools. They require a significant investment of time and resources to implement and manage.

This buyer’s guide will help you better understand the differences between project portfolio management and project management. This way, you can make a more informed purchase decision about which is the right software to support your needs.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Project Portfolio Management Software?
When to Invest in PPM Software?
Core Functionality to Look for in PPM Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Expected Benefits

What Is Project Portfolio Management Software?

Project portfolio management (PPM) refers to a collective effort by an organization to centralize and coordinate project efforts across a portfolio of work. PPM software helps automate processes, streamlining the planning, managing and delivery of each project.

While traditional project tools are designed to support teams at a project or department level, PPM software is designed to support project processes at an organizational level.

This means that while each system will have similar capabilities, such as project planning, PPM software will offer additional capabilities beyond what’s available in traditional PM tools.

For example, traditional planning allow managers to map out a project’s critical path and identify task dependencies and constraints. PPM software does this and more, allowing decision-makers to map out the dependencies and constraints between projects and identify potential scheduling issues, budget conflicts and overlapping objectives.

Ultimately, this allows leaders to better weigh one initiative against another so the business can eliminate waste and execute on the projects that deliver the greatest value.

When to Invest in PPM Software?

According to Gartner, businesses follow a natural, progressive development of project management processes and strategy referred to as "project and portfolio management (PPM) maturity."

There are five levels, with level one being the least mature and level five being the most mature. Organizations gradually develop and refine their PM processes, moving away from manual PM methods and investing in tools to support their workflows. By doing this, their PPM maturity advances.

PPM Maturity Levels

Project Portfolio Management Maturity Levels

At a level one PPM maturity, businesses may be using basic scheduling and task management tools on a one-off project basis. As they move into level two, most businesses have invested in PM software that they consistently use as a centralized and collaborative project space.

It’s not until businesses reach a level three PPM maturity that they should consider investing in PPM software.

SMBs at a level three PPM maturity have most likely established a project management office (PMO) to help them oversee and institute PM processes at an organizational level. The PMO acts as a governing unit that evaluates project initiatives to ensure they align with organizational goals and strategy.

Prior to investing in PPM software, your organization should evaluate whether it has followed portfolio management best practices:

Portfolio Management Best Practices

Portfolio Management Software Best Practices

Following these steps, in this order, helps ensure structured processes are in place before implementing a solution and that there is a governing body in place to oversee the implementation. This gives your business the best chance of successfully adopting portfolio management and implementing PPM software.

Core Functionality to Look for in PPM Software

As you evaluate PPM solutions, look for the following critical capabilities to ensure your organization has the portfolio support it needs:

Project life cycle management Manage projects from initial concept to final delivery. Create risk-return profiles to compare initiatives so that all the projects within a portfolio align with strategic goals and deliver business value.
Risk management Identify known risks, assign to staff for evaluation and monitoring and create risk management plans. Establish issue/change management protocols to deal with change requests and new issues that arise during project execution.
Advanced resource management Assess employee skill levels and allocate resources across multiple projects based on skill sets and availability. Practice resource capacity planning and ensure that high-priority projects are staffed first.
Dashboards Track project and portfolio progress against criteria such as budget, timeline and progress toward milestones and achievement of business objectives. Customize views according to specific user needs, e.g., executive, manager and/or customer.
Reporting and analytics Monitor key performance indicators and export data for a snapshot of current standing. Analyze data, and compare with previous reports to better understand organizational performance.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Not every small business will progress to a level of PPM maturity or project complexity that warrants an investment in PPM software. These tools are designed for organizations that need to effectively allocate and manage resources across multiple concurrent projects. These businesses will have portfolio management processes already in place.

In short, if your small business is still running one-off projects and has not thought strategically about instituting portfolio management processes, you probably do not need PPM software. Instead, you’re likely better off with a traditional project management solution that can help you streamline workflows and project processes at a project or department level.

Out of the thousands of software buyers who contact us each year, the following are the types of buyers who most often need more advanced PPM software:

Industry-specific, speciality buyers: Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in fast-paced fields can break from the traditional PPM maturity-mold when it comes to PPM software. These buyers struggle to match limited resources with high project demand and as such, PPM solutions can help them streamline their efforts.

Industries that often require more advanced PPM solutions include information technology (IT) services, software/technology and related fields, as well as marketing firms, professional services organizations, construction and engineering.

Small and midsized businesses (SMBs): SMBs at a level three PPM maturity can use PPM software to help coordinate project efforts across the portfolio. This can provide the level of visibility and oversight needed to successfully manage projects from conception to completion. At this stage, businesses might consider PPM solutions such as Mavenlink or Microsoft Project.

Growing SMBs and enterprise organizations: Growing SMBs and larger enterprise organizations are likely at a level three PPM maturity or higher. The size and complexity of their projects makes them good candidates for PPM software. PPM solutions to consider include Clarizen and Workfront.

Expected Benefits

Organizations needing support for their project portfolio can benefit from investing in PPM software in several ways. The following are a few examples of ways PPM software might help:

  • More efficient resource allocation: Awareness of current and future project requirements allow business leaders to more effectively allocate resources—employees, time and money—across the entire portfolio.
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  • Improve balance: Understanding the resources required for various types of projects allows businesses to achieve a better balance between short-term and long-term projects which allows them to maintain optimal resource capacity.
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  • Increase value: Using project evaluation criteria to weigh initiatives against the other projects in the portfolio helps businesses eliminate waste and execute on those initiatives that deliver the most value.

FrontRunners

Your Guide to Top Project Portfolio Management Software, January 2021

Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Project Portfolio Management Software products in North America.

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“Usability” includes user ratings for Functionality and Ease of Use.“Customer Satisfaction” includes user ratings for Customer Support, Likelihood to Recommend and Value for Money.Reviews analysis period: The reviews analysis period spans two years and ends on the 15th of the month prior to publication.