Project Portfolio Management Software and Tools – An Overview

Project portfolio management software, but for what? An increasingly complex working world ensures that system networks and organizational dependencies are created. This results in interactions that mean that projects can only be considered as a whole. The overall achievement of objectives depends on the partial success of many individual projects. With the help of project portfolio management software (PPM software for short), this challenge can be optimally met and comprehensive control can be achieved.

What is project portfolio software?

A project portfolio management tool is a support in multi-project management or program management of a company. Within a project portfolio management software, thematically or strategically related projects are bundled and considered as one portfolio.

The goal of using a PPM solution is to orchestrate the individual projects in order to achieve overarching goals and comply with framework conditions. These framework conditions include, for example, access to a defined sum of limited resources.

Why do you need a project portfolio management tool?

The central goal of using project portfolio management software is to create transparency in order to make higher-level decisions. Project information, such as the degree of target achievement and current cost schedules, is aggregated and visually presented for the management level or other stakeholders. This enables centralized control of decentrally organized projects.

In addition, PPM software solutions create the possibility of recognizing patterns and synergies between individual activities, which only become relevant indicators when added together. This can help contain individual errors for repetition and achieve savings.

The most important tasks of a project portfolio software?

To avoid multi-project management decisions being made on incorrect or non-existent information, project portfolio management software is used. The central task of this software solution is to createtransparency across project and team boundaries. Decentralized information is consolidated and aggregated in accordance with defined structures and methods. For this purpose, project portfolio management software accompanies the entire life cycle of a project, from the receipt and prioritization of project applications to control and documentation of results.

In order to create transparency and provide decision support, PPM solutions have various functions, which are listed below and are usually scattered across different tools:

If the functions mentioned here as examples are integrated within one software and applied identically across several projects, a powerful control tool for successful portfolio management is created.

How to evaluate a project portfolio management tool?

The company’s PPM maturity level can be an indicator for the choice of project portfolio management software. The higher the maturity level, the more integrated and automated the associated software solution should be. Using the Gartner model, the maturity of the company can be determined and divided into five phases to make an appropriate derivation.

After defining the type of PPM tool in this way, it is advisable to determine the functionalities that such software must fulfill. The first step is to define the infrastructural characteristics, which include the compatibility of the operating system. Whether, for example, Windows or Mac is required for project portfolio management software should be defined early on in the key data.

In addition, the area of application of the project portfolio program should be precisely named in order to derive functional characteristics from it and to weight them in terms of their importance. As a result, an objectified project portfolio management software comparison can be created with the help of the utility value analysis. A pennal of PPM tools is evaluated according to the requirements and compared with a sum value.

Examples of functional project portfolio management software Requirements:

The following list contains examples of functional features that can be set as must or can criteria for a PPM software solution:

  • Project application management and prioritization
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Representation of dependencies in terms of content/time
  • Configurable workflows
  • Risk matrix
  • Investment planning
  • Gantt charts
  • Resource planning and analysis capabilities
  • Ticket processing
  • Cross-project collaboration capabilities

Examples of key data to be met:

The following are examples of key infrastructural data that can be defined as a must-have condition:

  • Base price and cost structure (project portfolio management software free vs. license purchase)
  • Hosting Country (Europe vs. Asia/America)
  • Compatible operating systems
  • Integration & synchronization with existing project management tools
  • Security policies like SSL Security

PPM Tool Provider Overview

The PPM tools overview listed here contains solutions from both well-known and small vendors. The best-known providers are Atlassian with its Jira and Asana products, and Genius Projectwith its products of the same name. Genius Project is best known for its integration with IBM products. When looking for a German or European supplier, the manufacturer Meisterplan GmbH should be mentioned, which has been on the market since 2013 and has its headquarters in Tübingen.

PPM tools with SaaS or on premises licensing model

The following overview shows a selection of commercial project portfolio management software that can be obtained either as a license model or as a cloud solution:

Among the products listed here, there are tools that can also be used as freemium solutions. Jira and Asana, for example, can be used free of charge with a limit of ten and 15 users respectively.

Project Portfolio Management Software Freeware

Due to the complex project portfolio management software requirements, the market for free solutions is limited. The following project portfolio management software examples contain possible limitations such as a limited number of projects to create. Basecamp, for example, is limited to a number of three projects and therefore has limited use as project portfolio management software freeware.

Portfolio management program Excel

Since Microsoft Office solutions are available in many companies, it is obvious to use Excel as a project portfolio management program. Excel can be described as an option for an open source project portfolio management software. However, the use of Excel is only recommended for no project portfolios, as there is a high administrative effort to merge data and create manual queries. To reduce these efforts, the use of add-ins is recommended when using Excel. MarketXLS, for example, offers an Excel add-in with which the required PPM features can be integrated.

Management software with PPM module

For small companies that bundle a few projects in a portfolio, it is interesting to use management software with a PPM module instead of using a specified portfolio management tool. In the process, the portfolio management functions are integrated into the existing management software. This option is offered, for example, by the tools ServiceNow and Oracle Fusion PPM Cloud. Microsoft also offers a solution with the product MS Project Project Portfolio, where a PPM module can be integrated into the Microsoft family and, in contrast to MS Project, stores all data on a central server.

Offline PPM-Tool

Working while traveling often requires information to be available offline so that content can be viewed and decisions made while on the move. Not many PPM solutions offer this service. Local data storage and downstream synchronization are only available for selected products. The PPM software ONEPOINT Projectsoffers a mobile APP with which the data can be cached locally and thus used offline.


PPM software is the critical link between individual projects to synchronize activities and create visibility over synergies and redundancies. Thus, a project portfolio management program is crucial to enable control of interconnected projects and corporate goals via information transparency.

The need for this software support already exists when decentralized work dominates in an integrated working world and dependencies have to be managed. In conclusion, the only question that remains when choosing the appropriate software solution is:

Do you know your company’s maturity level in order to initially identify the need for PPM software and enter the tool search?

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