Project management tools have evolved to become a key toolset in many organisations. Today, project management software sometimes called Project, Portfolio Management (PPM) is used across many industries and job functions to help people plan and deliver projects and programmes.
The evolution of project management tools has been a gradual process. In the early days, PPM tools were cumbersome desktop tools that were used by project managers to manage their projects. As technology advanced and cloud computing became more ubiquitous, PPM tools evolved from being solely project management software into programme management software delivered as a SaaS solution.
As time went on, we saw another shift in how people use these tools: from project and programme management software to Project Portfolio Management. This shift reflected the realisation that organisations needed to view projects not just as individual initiatives but also how each project contributes toward achieving an overall goal or objective within an organization’s strategic plan.
The benefits of using this type of system include; increased visibility of all your projects and programmes across multiple departments or divisions; streamlined reporting across all phases of development; improved alignment with organizational initiatives; mitigated or avoided risks through better planning; improved collaboration among team members; and finally, one source of the truth.
PPM tools help you manage your projects and people by providing valuable insights into the progress of your projects and programmes, including:
How can a PPM tool help me manage my projects?
A good PPM tool should allow users to create new projects from scratch or import existing ones (for example from Microsoft Project). The interface should be intuitive so that anyone on your team can use it with the minimum of training. Ease of use is often an afterthought but it really is the most important requirement when looking for a PPM tool.
PPM Tools can vary in terms of the processes that they cover but the common process areas they support include:
There are a plethora of tools available in the marketplace from simple reporting tools to complex enterprise platforms. Before undertaking any selection process you need to understand why you want a PPM tool. What is the objective? What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Top often people look at a glossy YouTube video and make a tool selection. Before looking at how to select a PPM tool, you need to ask the why question. Why do you want one? Picking the wrong tool is inevitably a costly mistake.
When you choose a PPM tool, it’s important to find one that is intuitive, flexible and configurable. You also want to make sure that the tool has good customer support and that the organisation that provides it is updating and improving the software every year. You also need to pick a tool that matches your organisation’s project management maturity.
Let’s break down these criteria into more detail:
Some PPM Suppliers also have a mobile application for team members to update risks, issues, tasks, and actions.
When you’re looking at a project management process map, it’s important to understand what each activity means and why it is important. PPM allows you to do just that by giving supporting each process step. You can also use PPM tools like PM3 to help you estimate how long certain tasks take or what percentage of your time is spent on specific projects.
A PPM tool allows you to create a baseline for process performance and productivity. A baseline is a reference point for future comparison, so when you look at your metrics in the future and see improvement, it’s easier to understand how your process is performing.
A well-defined process will also help you measure improvement over time as well as understand where more work needs to be done.
Processes are a critical part of any organization, but they’re often difficult to manage and even harder to analyse. This is also true with project management processes. With PPM software, you can get a full view of how everything works together–and where the problems lie.
The best way to improve a process is by understanding it first: knowing what works, how long things take, and why they take as long as they do will help you make better decisions about how to improve things later on (or even eliminate waste altogether).
We have all read how even large sophisticated organisations in both the public and private sectors have been a victim of a cyber-attack or a data hack. You must ensure that your PPM vendor is serious about cyber security and data protection. Can you afford to be on the front page of a newspaper with a story about your project data being hacked?
There are numerous questions that you can ask to check the security standards of the PPM software and also the supplier itself. As a start, if the supplier organisation – not just the data centre provider – has ISO27001 and cyber essentials plus then they have at least passed external audits to achieve a level of security rating. It also demonstrates how seriously an organisation treats information security.
Like the ‘ease of use’ requirement, adherence to best practice security standards is mandatory in today’s world.
A project management tool can help you to better understand your project management processes, improve your productivity and make better decisions. If you want to use the right tool for your team, it’s important that you choose carefully and consider the selection criteria we have outlined above.
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