The Project Management Office: What to Look for in PMO Software

There are many project management software products, and many of them support the operations of project management offices (PMO) and the project portfolio management (PPM) function.  Every organization is unique in terms of size, industry, complexity, culture, types of projects, and more. This article explores the aspects of project management that map to the software features that support them.  The objective is to help organizations sort through the features and functions of PMO-supporting functions to determine which they do and do not need so that they can make informed decisions.

This is the third of a series of four articles on the Project Management Office (PMO), where we explore the various aspects of this complex, controversial organizational entity that, in practice, has produced both resounding success and miserable failure.  This article, Part 3 in the series, “What to Look for in PMO Software,” surveys the range of functionality provided by PMO software, and how to chose what’s best for your PMO. Part 1, “The Three Flavors of PMOs”, looks at the primary types of approaches that PMO’s take.  Part 2, “Waterfall, Agile, and Hybrid Methodologies,” looks at how PMOs can handle the complexity of managing a variety of methodologies across the enterprise. Finally, Part 4, “The One Thing That a PMO Must Do”, distills it all down to one make or break consideration that trumps all others.  

The key to identifying the appropriate software to help manage your PMO, supporting organizations, and projects is to understand the use cases that apply to your organization.  In Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Project and Portfolio Management” published 21 May 2019 – by Analysts Daniel Stang, Mbula Schoen, Anthony Henderson, twelve specific use cases were identified.  I provide some commentary on each of them and how they might relate to your consideration of supporting PMO, PM, or related software.

  1. Project demand management – How many projects do you have?  Is managing the demand for new projects a problem? How rigorous is your process for selecting and managing across the spectrum of projects?
  2. Project planning and management – Do you need integrated tools for use across the range of projects in the enterprise?  Do you need more consistent management, which uses best practices consistently? Would the enterprise benefit from more consistency?
  3. Time management – How do you currently manage time on projects?  Are there benefits to be derived by learning across projects – to make them more predictable?
  4. Resource management – Do you share resources across the spectrum of projects?  Would you benefit from doing so? Are you currently sharing resources, but would like to be able to manage that process better?
  5. Resource capacity planning – Are you able to predict shortfalls or excesses in project resource capacity?  Is this a common problem that needs to be addressed within your company? Can you quantify the benefits of better resource capacity planning?
  6. Project portfolio management – Do you have a defined process for managing your portfolio projects?  Do you need one?
  7. Project collaboration – What collaboration tools do you use on projects?  Are they effective and adequate? Could there be big benefits by improving this?  Would it be beneficial to have these tools reside within an enterprise system, or is it ok for them to be separate and even different, depending on the needs of each project?
  8. Program management – Are programs typical across your organization?  Do you have specific programs, driven by strategic objectives, that could be organized better to achieve the strategic objectives of each program?
  9. Reporting services – Would common project reporting services be beneficial – in managing programs and project portfolios?
  10. Security and user management – Is a consistent enterprise system needed in the project space?
  11. Integration – Are more integrated tools needed, or is it ok for the decision to be made locally?
  12. Usability – Is more consistency needed across the PM tool arsenal so as to allow easier mobility of professionals across the range of projects? 

Which of these use cases speak most closely to your needs?  Do you need a broad, all encompassing toolset, or specific niche features?

This Post is Part of the Series: The Project Management Office

This series of four articles on the Project Management Office (PMO) explores the various aspects of this complex and controversial organizational entity.

  1. The Three Flavors of PMOs
  2. Waterfall, Agile, and Hybrid Methodologies
  3. What to Look For in PMO Software
  4. The One Thing That a PMO Must Do