You’re a Program Manager and you’ve been tasked with reviewing replacement options for your organisation’s current tool for managing projects. One of your key priorities is better visibility. You’re currently struggling to get a holistic view of pipeline through to delivery for all projects in your program. When it comes to alternatives, where do you start? Before you get stuck in starting trials and booking demos, there is a question you need to answer first: project portfolio management (PPM) software or project management (PM) software? In this article we’ll discuss the fundamental differences between the two.
Let’s start with PPM software. PPM software is designed to manage an organisation's entire portfolio of projects, whereas PM software is focused on managing individual projects. PPM software provides a centralised view of an organisation's projects and resources, allowing decision-makers to effectively prioritise projects, allocate resources, and ensure that the organisation's overall strategic goals are met.
In contrast, PM software provides tools for managing the day-to-day tasks and activities associated with individual projects, such as task scheduling, budget tracking, and team collaboration. Although project management software is good for general collaboration, it’s usually not as effective as teams get larger and projects become more complex, so there is an issue with scalability as your organisation grows and develops.
What is Project Management Software?
Project management software is a type of online collaborative software that helps people plan, schedule, and execute projects. It allows project managers to assign work to different people, track progress, and measure productivity. Project management software can help managers understand how much time each person spends working on various projects to improve efficiency. In essence, project management software provides a centralised platform where all project-related information and activities can be accessed and managed in real-time.
Project management software is closely related to task management software but differs in scale and scope. Project management software also tends to be more generic, with features designed to ‘catch all’ but without meeting the entire needs of project teams. Think of it like this, a marketing team would feel at home with project management software, the same solutions that’s supposed to be designed for a project team to organise large and complex projects on. For users and businesses looking to manage a large number of projects, project portfolio management software will be the most productive.
What is Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software?
Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software is a tool used by project managers to manage multiple projects simultaneously. PPM software is used to organise resources and activities across multiple project portfolios, as well as maintain interdependencies between projects, programs and portfolios. It provides a centralised view of all ongoing projects, resources and financials, making it easier to prioritise and allocate resources effectively. Organisations use PPM solutions to optimise their project portfolios and maximise revenues and return on investment.
PPM software is particularly useful for large organisations with multiple departments, teams, and projects. It allows project managers to track project progress, identify potential issues, and make informed decisions about resource allocation and project prioritisation.
Who uses PPM software?
PPM software is used by organisations across various industries and sectors. It is particularly beneficial for organisations that handle large numbers of projects simultaneously or manage large-scale projects.
PPM software is implemented by professional services and project management teams, including roles such as project managers, program managers, portfolio managers, and executives. Project managers use PPM software to plan, execute, and monitor individual projects, while program managers use it to manage a group of related projects. Portfolio managers use PPM software to select the right projects that align with the organisation's strategic objectives and allocate resources accordingly. Executives use PPM software to gain a comprehensive view of all ongoing projects and make informed decisions about project investments and resource allocation.
PPM software is also used by other internal or external users involved in delivering projects. Internal users might be involved in project delivery, such as project coordinators, project analysts, and team members, enabling them to collaborate effectively, streamline communication, and manage project timelines and budgets efficiently.
Project management Vs project portfolio management
As opposed to project management software which focuses mostly on execution, project and portfolio management (PPM) software helps companies create and implement strategies for project portfolios. Each portfolio may include dozens or hundreds of projects which need to be managed and monitored as a whole.
The high number of projects that are part of a portfolio makes it difficult for companies to plan, allocate resources, execute, and monitor performance effectively. Typical project management software is used to manage individual projects but usually doesn’t include robust features that can cater to the needs of portfolio management.
Some of the key differences between PPM software and PM software include:
PPM software provides a high-level view of an organisation's entire project portfolio, while PM software focuses on managing individual projects.
PPM software typically includes features such as resource allocation, advanced financial management, and strategic planning, while PM software focuses on task management, scheduling, and team collaboration.
PPM software aims to ensure that an organisation's projects align with its strategic goals and objectives, while PM software aims to ensure that individual projects are completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards, essentially meeting the needs of the project itself rather than the larger aim.
PPM software is a more comprehensive tool that provides a business-wide view of its project portfolio, while still encompassing all the benefits of day-to-day scheduling and task management of a PM software. A great PPM software solution can be all-in-one, allowing project managers to manage all aspects of multiple projects, in one convenient space. It’s worth noting that not all PPM solutions are all-in-one and instead don’t have the extensive project management features but allow you to implement them in through separate vendors instead.