What is Project Portfolio Management (PPM)?

Most of us have used things like spreadsheets, index cards, sticky notes (or maybe even napkins…) to organize project tasks, especially in our personal lives. But when projects grow into something larger and more complex than those methods can easily support, and especially when these projects are intended to deliver some type of benefit to your business, you need a tool that’s specifically built for the job. So, what is Project Portfolio Management (PPM), and how can using PPM software help you? Well—it can do a lot.

What is Project Portfolio Management?

Before we dive into the benefits of PPM software, let’s first cover the basic definition of project portfolio management (PPM). Essentially, a project portfolio is a portfolio that contains all of your company’s ongoing projects. Formalized PPM gives your company a high-level view of all projects that are currently in progress, allowing you to see how and where your time, financial resources and talent are being put to use. This high-level view also lets you see the extent to which your ongoing projects are aligned with your overall business objectives.

These days, the project management office (PMO) usually has so many projects going at once that PPM is almost impossible without designated software. That’s where project management software comes in.

One Tool, Many Project Methodologies

Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, Card Wall, basic task lists—all these project methodologies should be available within your PPM software because you need to fit the methodology to the project (and project team) and not the other way around. And for some projects, a hybrid approach that combines elements of more than one of these is the way to go. By “right-sizing” your project plans for the project you’re undertaking and the team of resources that will be doing the work, you are setting yourself up for success.

With project portfolio management, you get comprehensive support for all projects, regardless of size, complexity or simplicity.


Leverage an intake framework, which will help you compile, analyze, and evaluate the data required to decide which ideas should become projects and which projects should be approved.


Project teams are more effective when they can seamlessly collaborate. Sharing notes, discussing issues and risks, and understanding status updates in real-time contribute to top-notch project performance.


When it comes to project management, there is no bigger mantra than transparency. Gain a consolidated view of projects across the team with custom views and the ability to export or publish publicly.


Quickly and effectively plan projects using the right methodology for the job. Speed planning with project templates to support all maturity levels, from simple to complex, using the right fit for each project.


Quickly measure and report on the activities, issues, risks, and tasks that have the biggest impacts on successful project completion. Set custom alerts for specific deviations, project health and project status.


Resource constraints are often reported as the number one issue facing IT organizations. PMOs need a clear view of all work and resources across the portfolio for resource capacity planning.


Sometimes incidents and service requests need to become projects – and sometimes projects kick-off service requests. With a single platform approach, you can manage both in one place, on one platform.


Eliminate surprises and identify potential roadblocks before they occur with a portfolio approach. Establish the framework to keep projects on track, aligned with goals and ensure completion on time and within budget.

Flexibility to Manage Projects for IT, Facilities, Marketing, HR and More

While many of your projects might be centered within the IT department, you may also work on projects with other departments, like facilities, marketing, human resources, etc. There are a few things you should consider and that your PPM software should help with.

First is, of course, collaboration. When project work is spread across departments, being able to communicate project-related information clearly and effectively is essential. And speaking of communication, you need to do so with a common language. By communicating with easy-to-understand and jargon-free dialog, you will avoid confusion and foster stronger relationships between departments—and that’s a good thing.

  • Support for all project methods: Waterfall, Agile, Kanban, Card Wall and basic task lists.
  • Flexible to manage projects for IT, facilities, marketing, HR and more.
  • Institute workflow to ensure that steps are moved along as planned.
  • Conduct in-depth resource capacity planning analysis.
  • Engage in budget planning and time tracking for better outcomes.
  • What-if planning scenario mapping.
  • Manage project documents in a centralized storage repository.

Conduct In-depth Resource Capacity Planning Analysis

Project teams can range in size depending on the scope of a project. And those resources are often splitting time between multiple projects, or between projects and support tickets. Resource capacity planning allows you to fine-tune resource allocation so that everything is covered, and certain team members aren’t underutilized while others are redlining – making everyone more productive.

Make Data-driven Decisions

The reporting platform integrates project, portfolio, enterprise, and IT service management (ITSM) -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.

  • 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 and engage in resource capacity planning.

Engage in Budget Planning and Time Tracking for Better Outcomes

A recent survey revealed that organizations that operate at the high end of the project management maturity scale are 2.5 times more likely to deliver projects both on schedule and on budget. PPM software will help you forecast project budgets and track resources’ time against that budget so you can make on-the-fly adjustments as needed to keep the project on course.

Why a Project Portfolio Makes a Big Difference

If your organization has a specific business objective it wants to accomplish, there may be numerous projects that contribute to that overall effort—each with its own timeline, budget and resources. PPM software that allows you to look across all projects within a portfolio is vital. By managing with a portfolio approach—rather than managing projects in isolation—stakeholders can see how everything is tracking and aligned to the strategic needs of the business.

Better Together: 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 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:

This post was originally posted in November 2020 and has been updated with new information.

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