Lee Merkhofer Consulting Priority Systems

Project Portfolio Management Tools:

Which Approach is Best? — Abstract

Project portfolio management (PPM) is a hot topic, and there is no shortage of advice on how to do it. Consulting companies and software vendors are offering tools for the job. Organizations can benefit considerably from improving the processes used to select and manage projects, but "caveat emptor," let the buyer beware.

Having spent more than 25 years as a PPM consultant, including a period in which I co-founded and helped run a successful PPM software company, I have strong opinions about PPM. To put it bluntly, much of the current advice on PPM is incomplete, inexact, or flat-out wrong. Available software typically provide good data management and reporting capabilities, but most current programs lack sound algorithms for identifying optimal project portfolios. Providing the wrong project recommendations is worse than providing no recommendations at all. The weak link for most tools is the lack of a quality decision model for recommending projects.

This 7-part paper identifies available PPM tools and offers recommendations for organizations interested in such a tool. Before purchasing a tool, buyers are advised to familiarize themselves with established theories for valuing projects and to reject tools that cannot be tailored to correctly apply these theories to their situations. Armed with understanding, organizations can avoid being "burned" by unsuitable and inadequate tools that are being pushed in the marketplace.