How to Find A Good PPM Tool

As IT leaders and PMOs, project management is a part of everyday life. The flagship projects are the ones that most people within an organization tend to hear about – the ones that are led by IT and managed through a project management office (PMO). They use formal approaches like Agile or Waterfall and are built with a complex infrastructure. However, those represent only a portion of the projects that an organization undertakes. And in most organizations, those same project resources are also working on tickets and incidents.

To properly manage resources and have a 360 view into projects and workloads, you need a good Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tool.

Without a proper PPM tool, your organization can suffer from low project management maturity leading to a number of issues that can cause a project to fail – things like:

  • Poor planning
  • Inability to adapt
  • The scope of the project changes
  • Resources were insufficient

There are many benefits to taking a PPM approach to project management and delivery including:

  1. Strategic alignment: PPM enables organizations to align their project portfolios with their overall business strategy. By ensuring that all projects contribute to the achievement of organizational goals, PPM helps companies make better use of their resources and prioritize initiatives.
  2. Resource optimization: With PPM, organizations can optimize the use of their resources, including time, money and personnel. By prioritizing and coordinating projects, PPM helps companies avoid wasting resources on projects that don’t align with their goals or have lower returns.
  3. Risk management: PPM helps organizations manage risk by assessing the potential risks associated with each project and taking steps to mitigate them. By managing risk at the portfolio level, PPM can help companies avoid costly failures and ensure that resources are allocated appropriately.
  4. Improved decision-making: PPM provides decision-makers with the information they need to make informed decisions about which projects to pursue, which to delay and which to cancel. By providing real-time visibility into project performance and resource utilization, PPM helps decision-makers make data-driven decisions.
  5. Increased agility: PPM enables organizations to be more agile by allowing them to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, customer needs and technological developments. By enabling faster decision-making and more efficient resource allocation, PPM helps companies stay ahead of the curve.

Overall, PPM helps organizations improve their project success rates, increase their return on investment and drive business growth.

So how can you best leverage the dollars allocated to implementing and supporting innovative and mission-critical technology most effectively? You can make sure you’re using a robust and unified PPM tool to ensure your organization is prepared to adapt and manage anything that comes up.

A quality PPM tool has the following functionalities that will unlock your organization’s ability to get things done, come in under budget, assign work, manage bottlenecks, and ensure deadlines are met.

Tracking with a PPM Tool

No organization or department can afford to focus on only one or two things at a time. They have their regular workloads to manage, they have several different projects in the works, and they are supporting project work from other business areas. Keeping track of this work accurately is critical to preventing issues and keeping everything on track.

The ability to track and manage resources across a portfolio of projects is critical. From simple tracking of how much time is being spent on tickets, incidents, or a project; to understanding whether you have enough people, and enough skills, to complete the planned work – resource management is fundamental to effective service and project delivery.

The base unit of resource management is time tracking: The ability to accurately capture, easily and consistently, who is doing what and how much time is being spent on each task.

Time tracking is about understanding the accuracy of work estimates, identifying areas where more people are needed, establishing when people will be available to work on something else, etc. This information forms the foundation of how organizations understand the work they have underway, and the work they have the capacity to deliver in the future.

Gauging Resources

When you evaluate a PPM tool, there are a few key areas that will help you gain efficiencies. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Does your tool or platform offer a self-service portal that your end users can leverage when they have questions? They should be able to easily look up answers and submit tickets through one highly indexed knowledge base.
  2. Do you allow for Knowledge-Centered Service? Your end-users should be able to comment on the articles in your knowledge base and submit additions to help others who have similar questions or issues. ​
  3. Are you engaged in proper change management? Did you know poor planning when rolling out updates or new software can account for up to 80% of your tickets? Make sure you’re properly planning within your tool or platform.
  4. Are you using a single platform? When you bring tickets, incidents, problems and projects into one platform you can better manage resources and become more efficient. A single platform approach for both IT Service Management (ITSM) and PPM will give you the 360-view needed to be the most effective and efficient.
  5. Are you able to engage in resource capacity planning? With resource capacity planning, you can get a big-picture view across your entire IT organization which, in turn, enables you to balance workloads.

A Portfolio Approach

Whether you are assigning resources to a specific request or to specific steps within a project plan, hours still need to be allocated and tracked. If you do this in two different places, you will never have a single view of all resources or a clear view of projects across your organization.

You need to be prioritizing, tracking, allocating and modeling across a portfolio of projects.

Look for a PPM tool that has the following:

  • Support for all project methods: Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, Card Wall, and basic task lists.
  • Is flexible enough to manage projects for IT, facilities, marketing, HR, and more.
  • Allows you to institute workflows to ensure that steps are moved along as planned.
  • Makes it easy to conduct in-depth resource capacity planning analysis.
  • Let’s you engage in budget planning and time tracking for better outcomes.
  • Allows for what-if planning scenario mapping.
  • Manages project documents in a centralized storage repository.

Make Data-Driven Decisions

A good PPM tool should have a reporting platform that integrates project, portfolio, enterprise, and IT service management (along with third-party data) to give an unparalleled understanding of the enterprise without the need for expensive third-party reporting tools. Don’t just collect data – use it.

Project Portfolio Management + Service Management

Sometimes service requests need to become projects – and projects often kick off a series of small requests. This is why a single platform approach to PPM and ITSM – together – can be beneficial. With ITSM and PPM together on one platform, you can:

  • Manage proposed, planned, and current projects with approval tracking.
  • Prioritize projects and optimize the project portfolio.
  • Track and manage the execution with time, resource, and expense tracking.
  • Perform what-if analysis & engage in resource capacity planning.

Combining ITSM and PPM allows you to have all relevant information in one place. Instead of switching between different pages or programs, everything you need can be right in front of you in a comprehensive, custom dashboard. This allows for a great amount of information to be at your fingertips, like:

  • Amount of, and type of, work that needs to be completed.
  • Estimated length of project or task.
  • Which areas need more resources.
  • Who is assigned to do what.
  • Who has the availability to help fulfill certain needs.
  • When that person can do the work.

Having this list of information readily available to aid in decision-making speeds up a variety of processes. For example, someone would be able to quickly identify where a bottleneck is occurring, or where excess capacity exists within the resource pool.

Supercharging ITSM and PPM with Automation

The benefits of a one-platform solution for IT Service Management and PPM are enhanced even more when you can include an integration component. By combining iPaaS (integration platform as a service) you’re your ITSM/PPM platform you can automate both complex and simple tasks, as well as connect disparate systems throughout your organization.

Employees no longer need to spend time on the repetitive, mundane tasks they normally have to complete before working on bigger projects – things like system name changes, resetting passwords, or granting certain permissions to software. All of these, and more, can be automated with workflows using iPaaS.

If you chose a codeless platform for this, you get the added benefit of anyone being able to use these tools – not just IT. By allowing lines of business to create their own workflows you can free up your IT resources to work on larger projects and eliminate the logjam when it comes to integrations within your organization.

City of Sunnyvale Gains Single View of Tickets and Projects

Hema Nekkanti, project management office manager for the City of Sunnyvale, touts the benefits of bringing IT Service Management (ITSM) and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) together on a single platform, “With one platform now we can actually see the tickets that are being worked on as well as the projects that are in the pipeline,” she said. “This gives us the ability to actually allocate the resources appropriately, and there’s no resource conflict.”

Eddie Soliven, infrastructure services manager, finds great value in the dashboards provided within the TeamDynamix platform. Nekkanti agrees, “The dashboards are the coolest things in TeamDynamix, I enjoy creating them as well as using them,” she said.

Nekkanti said she and her team use the dashboards internally to view projects in the pipeline as well as tickets. At Sunnyvale, each department has its own dashboard specific to their projects and tickets – within these dashboards they can view both the entire portfolio of work across the city, as well as their own projects.

“It’s all there, and when they drill down into each of those projects they can tell how far they are into the project. There’s a Gantt chart that shows the execution time and when the start time of each project is,” Nekkanti said. “This actually helps us (in the project management office) and those in the departments to understand exactly where the projects are and when they can be finished.”

Soliven said the dashboards also give him a good snapshot of the condition of Sunnyvale’s systems and where the service requests lie, as well as where the bottlenecks are, “It gives us an opportunity to address those in the background proactively.”

CIO Kathleen Boutte said she highly values the resource management visibility she gets from TeamDynamix, “We really needed that visibility, and it’s why this has been such a great tool for us. Having both the service side and the project side means I can see whether my team is working on a ticket or a project and how busy are they? I get visibility into their availability, and I can forecast more accurately to know that I am not overworking staff or that we’re not just sitting on the bench twiddling our thumbs.”

To learn more about IT resource optimization and see how other organizations are using ITSM and PPM together check out:

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