Selecting a PPM Solution – What Should You Know?

You are part of a team looking for the right project portfolio management (PPM) solution for your organization. What should you know as you start the process?

First off, it’s not easy (unless you luck out and find the right one during your first round of analyzing what’s out there). It’s not straight forward and your team members may be hard-pressed to come to an agreement on the right one so it may take a while.

Generally, you are going to want to focus on these four things:

What is your budget for a PPM solution?

Not everything is priced the same and surprisingly it won’t necessarily be the most expensive option that will supply the best or customizable or scalable features and options. All PPMs come with different features so it’s important to know what you need and who will be using it before you get started. The worst thing you can do is go into it blind and waste time and money on the wrong solution that will set you back 6 months and thousands of dollars in your selection process.

What are your organization’s biggest needs and worries about the whole project portfolio situation?

What are your 4 or 5 top needs from an organizational standpoint? Do you have those needs prioritized? Yes, you’ll want it prioritized because the likelihood that you’ll find one solution to fit all of your wants and needs is going to be difficult. Remember, goals may shift as other priorities take precedence and certain capabilities may be more easily adopted than others at any given time. So taking into consideration the current project landscape for your organization as well as what lies ahead in the next 3-5 years is critical to ensure you aren’t picking a PPM solution for the enterprise that only solves a short-term crisis or need.

Consider the learning curve

Who will be using the PPM system? One person? A leadership team? Will the entire organization will have access to view and update information and run reports or inquiries? If you have just one or two high-tech admins running the PPM the learning curve isn’t nearly as much of a concern as it is if you have the entire organization using it. And since the goal should be high and broad usage for the best return on investment (ROI) a broad acceptance in the organization – especially from senior management becomes very important. So a broad rollout and short learning curve is the best way to go. 

You can imagine how disappointing and frustrating it could be to find out 6 months later that a $385,000 software implementation is not being adopted company-wide and becomes rendered useless. That would be a waste of time and money for your organization, not to mention the shame and criticisms that may follow.

Reporting is critical

Perhaps the biggest factor in selection will be reporting. A PPM is all about helping a team decide what projects are a fit, which aren’t, which ones should be next in priority, and where active projects are in terms of status, performance, budget, and timeline. For the PM infrastructure as well as senior management and all stakeholders, it’s going to be a lot about the reporting capabilities of the PPM. If you can’t get good info out of it, what good is it? Keep in mind – the best project management tool is the one you will actually use. And if it can report, do customizable reports, and provide meaningful insight, then that’s likely the one you want.

Final words when selecting your PPM solution

In conclusion, everyone’s needs and selection criteria are a bit different. This list above is very high-level and generalized…it could go on and on. But the bottom line is that you must know what problems are you trying to solve and what you are looking for. Otherwise, you could get distracted by “cool” features from one solution except for the ones that do not really help, or you may be overwhelmed about which is the right solution because you’re not sure which solution is going to bring you the best ROI, taking you and other decision-makers forever to decide. Hence, write out your requirements – don’t go window shopping as the bells and whistles from each offering vary and you’ll be like a kid not knowing where to spend his $5 on candy. Each “store” will have a different offering. If it’s worth investing in and investigating then it’s worth doing right and acquiring what your organization will need and learn and use and not just let collect dust.

Readers – what are your current PPM goals and needs? What on this list would you change? What have been your experiences when selecting a PPM solution for the enterprise?

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