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The Who, What and Why of PPM

You say you need a project portfolio management tool by next Friday, so you ask someone to evaluate the options, try a few out and write up a cost benefit analysis.

Is that necessary or is just it buying you time in your procrastination of the decision-making steps and process?

You’re an organized, efficient and skilled business analyst in your organization and successful on most projects… yet there is something missing. You get frustrated because it feels like sometimes you’re spinning your wheels when you’re asked to perform on projects and be a great leader and be successful when you are feeling uneasy for a few reasons…

  • Are we ready to take on this type of project?
  • Do we have the available resources?
  • Do those resources have the needed skill sets?
  • Are we taking on these projects in the proper order so we can learn, grow and perform better on each project while still gaining valuable footage in a new genre or technology?

What do you need to help with all this frustration? All this doubt and questioning and concern for the projects and the customer on the other end as well as the good of your project teams and project managers can be very distracting. Do you need a hug? No… well, maybe. But be a big boy. What you probably need is a great PPM tool – a project portfolio management tool – to help you sort out the resources the projects, the technology the prioritization the “yes-no” and “go-no-go” decisions and the “go-live” timing. It may mean the difference between the project management infrastructure you need for your growing, successful, project centric delivery organization and increased failure on projects you’re taking on before you’re ready. Better to skip over the ones you’re not ready for than to stupidly and blindly take them on with a high failure rate possibility. Right? Yes… say “right”!

PPMs are becoming more popular and more plentiful and software providers look to not only meet an organization’s PM oversight needs but also help in many difficult project engagement decisions that prior to recent years was more like throwing darts at a wall. By definition, a project portfolio management tool – or PPM – is this…

“Project portfolio management (PPM) refers to a process used by project managers and project management organizations (PMOs) to analyze the potential return on undertaking a project. By organizing and consolidating every piece of data regarding proposed and current projects, project portfolio managers provide forecasting and business analysis for companies looking to invest in new projects.”

Project portfolio management gives organizations and managers the ability to see the big picture…

  • Executives – know what project managers to reach
  • Project Managers – easy access to team members
  • Team Members – improved communication with leadership and other teammates
  • Stakeholders – kept in the loop with reliable and consistent feedback

So, let’s consider what this article set out to do – discuss the Who, What and Why of PPM.

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Who needs a PPM? Leaders of projects in a highly project-oriented delivery organization as well as those resource gatekeepers for the projects that need staffed. And the decision makers in the organization need a PPM. Where do we spend our very valuable project dollars? Are we ready to take on these projects at this time? Do we have the right skill sets and resources to be successful? Or are we setting ourselves up for failure?


What are we going to do with the PPM once we acquire it? What does the enterprise rollout look like? And should it be an enterprise rollout or just a leadership tool? Is it going to be interactive with the overall landscape of the organization where projects are born and requested or just one to help the senior leadership make decisions and plan dollars at a high level?


I think we’ve covered the why, but let’s consider. Why PPM? Because your organization needs it to effectively and efficiently manage the flow of projects through the organization. Your organization needs it to properly keep resources fully utilized and projects fully staffed with the right resources and right skill sets and not take on projects that they will not have resources available for. And your organization needs it take on the right projects and in the right order to realize the most success.

Summary / call for input

Is a project portfolio management tool necessary and is it a guarantee of project success and PM infrastructure success? No and no. A PPM is not necessary and there’s probably no reason to randomly spend money on one just because you’ve been told you should have one. Though as with all PM related tools, there are free ones to check out the PPM landscape and some are pretty good with lots of features as long as you aren’t licensing tons of users to begin with.

Certainly consider your growing needs and whether you need to seek a scalable PPM tool that will grow with your organization and whether you need a more specific hybrid PPM tool that works great for both waterfall and agile software development and project management organizations because those exist as well. Yes, much to consider. Don’t just jump into the fire… take time and examine your own needs. But, as I see it, most growing and successful project delivery organizations are eventually going to need this – I’ve worked as a consultant with several overloaded PM delivery organizations and a PPM was definitely a great choice for them in the end.

Readers – does your organization have a project portfolio management tool? If yes, tell us what you’re using and if it’s good or bad… seems to be the wave of the future and we all want to hear about the good ones to help in our decision-making processes. If you chose the wrong one, then we want to hear about that, too, and why it was a bad call. What’s it’s failure point? If you don’t have one – do you plan to make the leap? Is your project backlog a mess or struggling? Please share your thoughts and discuss.

Brad Egeland

Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He has been named the “#1 Provider of Project Management Content in the World” with over 7,000 published articles, eBooks, white papers and videos. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at

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