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Cloud Computing, Service Management, strategic sourcing

Top 3 Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) tools – “Do it yourself” approach!

Are you wondering why there is a need for another “top-X” blog? There are couple of web sites that list the top-10 Portfolio and Project Management tools. The Gartner Magic quadrant also includes comparison of PPM vendors which should give a good indication of the market.

However, there are limitations of the top-10 web sites and Gartner. Top-10 comparisons are based “generic selection criteria”. Many criteria not be relevant to your organisation. Or, you may have special requirements which are not considered.

Gartner Magic Quadrant does not represent the complete market place. Gartner has strict entry criteria and the participating vendors need to pay Gartner. So, if a vendor is not in the Gartner list that does not mean you should reject them. Similarly, a Gartner identified “leader” may not be a good fit for your organisation.

If you are serious about Portfolio and Project Management, you have to do it yourself. If you do not have time and expertise, outsource the selection process with clearly identified business needs.

Do-it-yourself – creating your own top-3 list

Here is my take on “Do it yourself” approach:

  • familiarise yourself with the market place
  • write down business objectives
  • compare of 10 tools
  • evaluate 3 tools using 14 day trial
  • select one

Step 1: Familiarise yourself with the market place:

Some may argue that business objectives should come before starting the market scan. Yes and No! You may pencil down some of the objectives, however leave yourself some room for innovation. You may be surprised to see the features offered by these tools since you have last evaluated. Some features could be quite relevant to your needs, you never thought before.

Here are some pointers:

Top-10 reviews (toptenreviews.com)

Top 10 reviews web site promises to compare a wide range of products and services. Let us start our exploration with this site:


Top-10 reviews compares the tools against generic selection criteria. The top-5 tools in the list are:

Vendor Web site
Clarizen http://www.clarizen.com/
Genius Inside http://www.geniusinside.com/
Daptiv http://www.daptiv.com/
Tenrox – Upland http://www.tenrox.com/
Celoxis http://www.celoxis.com/

Their comparison table will give an idea about the common features. You will find that many tools satisfy the core features.

Gartner Magic Quadrant:

Gartner magic quadrant gives another perspective. In my view, Gartner list mainly caters for larger corporate business. You may wonder why some of the “cool tools” you found the earlier top-10 list have not found their way into Gartner. As I said earlier, Gartner has entry criteria and not all vendors may submit their tools to be evaluated by Gartner.


The Gartner Magic quadrant leaders in the PPM market are:

Vendor Web site
Innotas http://www.innotas.com/
Daptiv http://www.daptiv.com/
Oracle-Primavera-Instantis http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/primavera/p6-enterprise-project-portfolio-management/overview/index.html
Upland – PowerSteering http://www.powersteeringsoftware.com/
AtTask http://www.attask.com/

Gartner’s assessment goes beyond just tool features. They will assess the vendors’ financial credibility and long term strategy.

However, you have to make a fair assessment how much of the “innovative features” are going to impact your bottom line. Can these tools act as a catalyst to fix your current bad practices in Portfolio and Project Management?

Process-Symphony blog 9 PPM tools:

In my previous blog I focussed on different features of PPM and gave example tools in each category.


Kloudax list – gives the list of PPM tools


PrioritySystem blog:

I found the following article very informative. It does not rank the tools but list around 100 tools in PPM market place.


Step 2: write down business objectives

Now you have a pretty good overview of the market capability. Write down the business objectives that underpin the PPM technology investment. Some of the considerations are:

  • are you looking for Portfolio Management capability?
  • are you planning to replace the existing technology or complement it?
  • do you have existing investment in tools like MS Project. Do you have to maintain the legacy data?
  • what kind of integrations you are looking in the short and long terms? For example, do you need Sharepoint and Salesforce integration?
  • do you require local support?
  • do you want additional features like “IT help desk”?
  • are you looking for specific methodology support, Agile, Six Sigma?

You find the core features of MS Project like Gantt chart, resource allocation, reporting, calendar are common in all the tools. All the top vendors have impressive user interface. They certainly look cool and quite functional. The selection process should be driven by the additional capabilities you are looking for. If you are looking for a basic replacement, there are numerous choices.

Step 3: choose 10 tools and rank

Here is an example of narrowing the selection. Your “top 3” or “top-5” ranking will change depending upon the objectives. For example, if you do not require Sharepoint/Salesforce integration you have a wider choice. If you are specific need about “IT helpdesk” capability your choice is limited.

The “heat map” generated by the tool Kloudax Comparison Assistant (KCA) gives a comprehensive overview. (www.kloudax.net.au/software).

The observations from the comparison matrix are:

– all the listed tools support MS Project compatibility

– all the listed tools support APIs for Outlook integration

– if simulation is important consider GeniusInside. (www.geniusinside.com)

– if sharepoint integration is a key driving factor consider EPM Live (www.epmlive.com)

– if you want generic project management functionality consider Clarizen and Smartsheet. (www.clarizen.com and www.smartsheet.com)


Of course, there are several other tools that will fit your needs. For example, in my last blog I mentioned about a tool psoda (www.psoda.com) , which combine portfolio management, project management and software engineering features. If you are a software development house, you have to consider this tool in your evaluation. There are tools that specialise in Agile methodology and engineering projects.

Who told you selecting a right tool is an easy task?

You need right selection tools and expertise!

I am surprised that the businesses are not recognising the size of the market place. The SaaS market is expanding as we speak. You need to have tools and skills to manage this growth and make an optimum selection.

Ideally you need a comparison engine that searches the PPM vendor sites and gives you a “seed rating”. The good news is such a comparison engine exists. The comparison table above was generated by the tool Kloudax Comparison Assistant (KCA). As you can see it can give a “helicopter view” of features that match your requirements. It is a dynamic comparison engine – you can add web sites/vendor manuals and change the criteria.

If you want to receive a FREE Whitepaper on KCA with a case study, please contact us. (www.kloudax.net.au/contactus)

Step 4 and 5: Evaluate and Select

Once you are reasonably convinced about the alignment between your business objectives and tool feature, start the free evaluation. Include diverse functional groups to evaluate to get a balanced view.

While awarding the contract, do not award more than 1 year maximum. The tool landscape is changing so fast. Be prepared to evaluate again in 1 year time.

If you want a tailored PPM Comparison report for your organisation, please contact us. Once we understand your business objectives, we will develop a detailed report comparing 15 PPM tools with clear recommendations that is aligned to your objectives. (www.kloudax.net.au/contactus)


About Murali Ramakrishnan

Murali is the Managing Director of the boutique consulting firm "Process-Symphony". Process-Symphony specializes in IT enabled business process orchestration. http://www.process-symphony.com.au http://www.kloudax.net.au


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