The support of the right tools can make or break the success of a project management office (PMO). On the one hand, having a robust project portfolio management (PPM) platform that creates value is a proven performance accelerator and expands PMO influence. On the other hand, investing energy and money into a tool that fails to deliver the expected value or meet internal expectations may severely harm the PMO’s credibility. Choosing the best PMO software—and there are several types!—for your team is, as a result, crucial.

Today’s PMO and PPM software market is quite crowded. Organizations large and small have a broad array of diverse project management or project portfolio management platforms to choose from. The sheer number of options may, in fact, seem daunting! Never fear, though. We have the tips you need to navigate the types of PMO software and make the right choice for your organization.


Understanding the Different Types of PMO Software

Before you start looking for a specific platform or provider, make sure you’re aware of all of your options and whether they’re a good fit for your needs.


Platform Extensions

Best for: Small and basic project management needs

Leading enterprise software vendors (you know them: the likes of Microsoft, IBM, SAP, or Oracle) provide PPM-oriented tools to some extent, often in the form of additional modules or extensions to broader-purpose platforms.

And these do a good job for basic project management needs; they offer quick and effective fixes for many of the most common business issues. They are helpful to those PMOs who are struggling to secure a budget dedicated to acquiring a proper PPM platform.

However, these technology platform extensions typically won’t enable your teams to grow PPM core competencies and are not designed to support process maturation.


Collaborative Tools

Best for: Small teams focused on deliverables, not necessarily large-scale management

Organizations that are not after long-term maturity growth or a highly structured work environment may opt for collaborative work management solutions. This is because they are designed to facilitate execution by project teams.

Collaborative project team platforms such as Asana and Trello are usually easy to procure and adopt. They can also deliver instant impact and ROI. However, they don’t necessarily offer adequate capabilities for such activities as resource, portfolio, and financial management. And again, they don’t really support formal project management.


Sophisticated IT Platforms

Best for: Large, complex, and data-focused businesses

At the other end of the spectrum are high-end IT solutions. These top-shelf platforms provide large and mature enterprises with a full range of advanced, sophisticated features to manage and optimize absolutely everything. But there’s a catch. Such IT PPM solutions involve a complex and lengthy implementation process, and steep learning curves may slow down user adoption. And they don’t come cheap.


PMO Solutions

Best for: PMOs of any size, scope, or structure

The last software type is possibly the one that best meets the needs of a typical PMO. PPM specialists like Sciforma provide Adaptive Enterprise PMO platforms that strike the right balance between functional performance and usability.

Sciforma’s PPM software solutions help the PMO coordinate multiple project teams across different domains. Task management and collaboration features empower project managers and project teams. Strategy and portfolio planning capabilities cater to the needs of executive-level decision-makers. All that while remaining comparatively affordable and easy to implement.

Finding the Right PMO Software for Your Project Management Processes


Key Functionalities to Look For in a PMO Software Platform

To pick the right tool among the countless offerings in the market, it helps to first determine which critical features and capabilities you really need to meet your most pressing challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the core functionalities a PMO software may have that businesses typically find most useful:


Resource Allocation

Your PMO software’s resource management capabilities should provide project and resource managers a comprehensive picture of resource capacity and attributes. This allows them to optimize allocation across multiple projects and programs.

The goal is to make sure that financial, technical, and human resources are fully utilized and that each worker is assigned to the projects that will make the best use of their specific skills and competencies.


Budget Management

Financial, budget and cost management facilities are designed to optimize financial value at the project and portfolio levels. They come with an array of analytics and metrics to assist in ROI and value calculations and help project managers track costs and expenses against budget baselines.

When properly leveraged, robust budget management capabilities can really help prevent or mitigate budget overruns — a strong point to make to economic buyers!


Risk Management

No one likes risk. However, it’s a fact of life that we all have to deal with. No PPM software eradicates risk, but a solid tool will help PMOs anticipate problems early enough to take preventive action.

Based on the wealth of project and contextual information that it consolidates, your PPM platform should automatically detect potential problem areas, notify the concerned manager, and even provide smart recommendations.


Strategic Project Selection

Last but not least, project selection and prioritization are key challenges for many PMOs. In addition to evaluating the potential value, return, and risk of candidate projects accurately, PMO software should consider strategy alignment — that is, a business’s ability to deliver results and value that match its strategic goals. Having the right PPM tool will significantly help by providing data-based insights that will guide decisions.


4 Key Things to Look for in a PMO Software

While a tool’s functionality is doubtless of key importance, that’s not all there is to consider when making your choice. Here is a short list of some of the key points to check when shopping for a PMO software platform.


1. Ease of Use

Today’s workers have grown used to the kind of seamless navigation experience and one-click machine interaction that smartphones offer. They’ll expect that level of user-friendliness from your PPM platform. Both project managers and decision-makers will particularly appreciate neat and user-friendly interfaces and powerful visualization to see the key data and insights at a glance.

Besides interfaces and navigation, your platform should be accessible to all users — even to those without technical or PPM backgrounds. Ideally, users should find it easy to get to know the tool and perform at least basic operations.


2. Ease of Implementation & Customer Service

You should ideally be able to implement your PPM platform within a few weeks as long as you go for the default settings. This means that you really need to pay attention to the out-of-the-box features of the tools you are considering: if they don’t match your expectations and requirements, you’ll probably have to engage in extensive customization effort, which will delay implementation and benefit realization.

The software vendor behind your tool should also commit to supporting you throughout the implementation process. Sciforma, for instance, offers e-Learning and Training services to help your team seamlessly incorporate our PMO software into your workflow. When in doubt or faced with roadblocks, don’t hesitate to leverage your vendor’s expertise!


3. Scalability

You’re probably expecting your organization and PMO to evolve and grow over time, so you need a tool that can evolve and grow with you. In other words, your PPM solution should be able to serve its purpose months and years from now and be scalable enough to adapt based on user demand and requirements.


4. Information Security

Finally, the project portfolio management platform and vendor of your choosing needs to be able to guarantee the security of your information. Cybersecurity threats are increasingly prevalent worldwide, and new regulatory requirements around data privacy are raising new challenges for businesses. Cloud-based PPM offers users great flexibility, but don’t forget to cover your bases!


Final Thoughts

While having the right tool can bring so much to a project management office, we can never stress this enough: investing in a PPM tool that doesn’t fit the needs of your PMO and users is more detrimental than helpful. In order to identify the platform that will meet your expectations, try to really understand what your PMO needs are and carefully examine the respective offerings of the various types of software vendors in the market.

No matter your organizational strategy or goals, Sciforma’s PPM solutions help you structure processes that will propel your business forward. Check out our buyer guide on Selecting the Right PPM Partner for more insights. Happy tool hunting!

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