How to select a PPM / PMO tool for the NHS

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The NHS CCGs are responsible for delivering many projects and programmes including QIPP initiatives. To control these programmes and track benefits, many CCGs and Trusts are looking to purchase a PPM tool to help manage these initiatives. Although I am biased – we at Bestoutcome provide PM3, a tool that many NHS organisations use – this is a sensible decision. It is important, however, to select the right tool that is fit for purpose. My top tips for selecting the right tool are:

  1. You need to ensure that you select a solution AND not just a tool. For any PPM to work effectively, you need to have a good support, training and mentoring organisation supporting the tool. This is critical for success. There are many vendors selling tools that are literally ‘one-man-bands’ that will not give any sizeable organisation the support needed for a successful implementation.
  2. Establish key requirements for the tool ensuring that you do not fall into the trap of wanting features that do not match the maturity of your organization. Instead, focus on the key functionality that you really need to manage your projects effectively; avoid more esoteric requirements that are beyond the maturity of your organisation.
  3. Many products look good during a demo but once implemented fail to meet the requirements. They may appear to meet the requirements in a demonstration but there is nothing like trialling a product for 3 months to see whether it is a good fit for you. If a company is reluctant to trial their product, there may be a very good reason.
  4. Pricing. DON’T always pick the cheapest option. There is always a tendency for the cheapest one to be chosen but there may be a very good reason why it is cheap. Check that it is not a modular package and you are getting the base product only. Rather like a low cost airline the headline price may be much lower than the actual price.
  5. Financial stability of the vendor. It is now very easy to check the financial strength of a vendor via the internet, e.g is extremely risky to select a product from a vendor who has very low cash balance or has a low or even negative net worth. There are many companies in the PPM space that are literally one-man bands with very limited financial resources. If they go bust then you have no-one to support you and a product that has no development path.
  6. Check how many new releases the vendor has a year. If it is too many, i.e. over 6, then it may be the sign of an unstable product. If there is only one release per annum or one release every 18 months then this is usually a sign of too few development resources, and a product that will not be developed or enhanced.
  7. Has the software been used in the NHS and are there good NHS references. If it has been used in the NHS then take up at least 2 references before making a final decision.


This list is not exhaustive, but are some of the important steps that you should undertake when selecting a PPM or PMO tool in the NHS.

For more information on PM3, please visit our web-site.

For information on our work in the NHS, please see the Camden case study on our website

David Walton
About the author
David Walton

I am David Walton, Programme,Project and Portfolio Management specialist and director of Bestoutcome here in the UK. We make the PMO tools PM3, PM3time and PM3change, the only PMO tools designed by practitioners for practitioners.

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