PMO Tools for Successful Multi-Project Management

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Are you working in a multi-project environment and looking for a modern solution with powerful PMO tools? Are you lacking an overview of the enterprise-wide project portfolio? Do you find that short-term and long-term resource utilization is often an enigma to you? And are you sick of juggling Excel spreadsheets as well as spending so much time on manual reports? Presumably, you concur with one or two of these pain points. Otherwise, you would not be reading this article.

At the beginning of this article, you will learn about interesting results from a PMO Tools Survey (you can download the complete evaluation in German language as a PDF file).

Next, you will learn how the optimum PMO tool environment for multi-project, portfolio and resource management could look – The PPM Paradise. This is not about the particular PMO software and tools provided by one manufacturer – you simply learn what elements are necessary in general and what these should be able to do.

Here is what you can expect in the following chapters:

Let us get started.

Why Use the Right PMO Tools?

The diverse PMO functions call for the right methods, processes and naturally also well-suited PMO software tools. The latter help all PMO members, decision-makers, project managers, team leaders, etc. do their work as efficiently as possible and with high quality.

This kind of work simplifications for all roles can be achieved by:

  • Automation
  • Workflows
  • System integration
  • Good visualization of the right information

If everything fits together well, you will be able to accomplish the following benefits for your PMO:

  • You save time
  • You gain more transparency
  • You make better use of your resources
  • You increase the overall acceptance and motivation of the PMO
  • You improve the currency of your information
  • You or your decision-makers are enabled to make informed decisions
  • You become more successful at managing your projects and portfolios

Special Download: 10 Reasons why a PMO is important (PDF file)

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Results of the PMO Tools Survey from December 2021

In December 2021, TPG The Project Group conducted a survey about PMO tools. The results are based on 261 valid responses. Below, you will find an assessment of the most important results. At the end of the chapter, you can download the complete evaluation document for free.

Tools Used by PMO Function

The following chart shows how widely used Microsoft Office tools (Excel, PowerPoint and Word) are in almost all areas of activity, now as ever.

PMO Tools – Tools used by area of activity (absolute, multiple selection possible)

Tools used by area of activity (absolute, multiple selection possible)

The following table shows the number of tool mentions in relation to the number of participants (261).

PMO Tools – Tools used in relation to the 261 respondents

Tools used in relation to the 261 respondents: Most common = green. Second most common = yellow

From the two graphics, it is clear that companies are not using the best-suited tools in many areas. Office tools such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word may be easy to use, but they require a lot more manual maintenance than the corresponding tools suitable for each area of activity.

In many areas, a database-assisted tool would be much more efficient and would provide the latest data for controlling and decisions at the push of a button.

Another interesting read: What Are Typical PMO Functions and Areas of Responsibility?

Satisfaction with the PMO Tool Environment

The question regarding the satisfaction with the tool environment yielded the following results:

  • Only 15% of respondents are satisfied with their tool environment and do not see any need for changes.
  • 39% are satisfied but would like to make changes.
  • The highest share, i.e. 44%, are not satisfied with their tool environment.
PMO Tools – Satisfaction with the PMO tool environment (survey result)

Satisfaction with the PMO tool environment

The comparison of the three levels of satisfaction with the PMO tools reveals:

  • Those who are very satisfied use Excel a lot less than the satisfied or dissatisfied respondents.
  • The very satisfied respondents use PowerPoint and Word much less.
  • Very satisfied participants are most likely to have tools with a central data storage in use, such as Project Online, SharePoint, Power Platform, Confluence and Jira.
  • The very satisfied use Confluence and Jira much more.
  • Those who are satisfied have a wider use of SAP than the very satisfied.
  • The share of Microsoft Power Platform users is still very small, as this is still a comparatively new tool world. But its users are more likely to be found among the satisfied than the Excel users.
  • Confluence is largely put to use for PM manual, status report and PM knowledge exchange, hence for text-based information.
  • This survey shows that Jira is used more often compared to Microsoft Project and Project Server.
  • Those who are not satisfied use Excel most frequently and are least likely to use tools with central data storage. Yet, there is also a small share of people who are satisfied using Excel.
  • The dissatisfied tend to name “Other tools” more often.

The following two graphics depict the above results for those who are “very satisfied without need for changes” and those who are “not satisfied” graphically as percentage shares of the tools by PMO function.

PMO Tools – Share (%) of tools for activities, dissatisfied respondents

Share (%) of tools for activities, dissatisfied respondents

PMO Tools – Share (%) of tools for activities, very satisfied respondents without need for changes (survey result)

Share (%) of tools for activities, very satisfied respondents without need for changes

Further reading: Resource planning software for the roles involved

Tool Gap for Certain Functions

Wherever no tool was named for an area of activity, we can assume that this area of activity is not supported by a tool at the company of the respondents. The below graphic shows these areas without tool support.

PMO Tools – Areas of activity (%) without tool support (survey result)

Areas of activity (%) without tool support

38% of respondents do not carry out capacity planning in the portfolio. This confirms our experience that many companies experience problems with strategic resource management.

More than a fifth (22%) carry out resource management at team level without a tool. That is still a lot, but it is at least better than at portfolio level.

On the other hand, almost all respondents have a project list (97%) and a project status report (95%).

Desired Changes to the PMO Tool Environment

The answers to the question “what changes would you desire for your PMO tool environment?” can be summed up in the following statements:

  • Many want to get away from Excel, some also from PowerPoint and Word.
  • Many desire to have a centralized PPM tool and thereby reduce the variety of tools in use.
  • Almost half of the responses express the desire for an integrated tool environment in which the data is available via interfaces in all tools. They see the advantages of such a solution in:
    • The tool environment’s increased ease of use due to the elimination of double data maintenance
    • The resulting higher data quality
    • The higher degree of automation
  • In addition, many desire an adequate tool for strategic capacity planning and operational resource management.

The survey results contain a lot of further information and graphics regarding the different areas in which PMO tools are used. Below, you can download the PMO tools evaluation for free (only available in German language).

State-of-the-Art PMO Tool Environment – The PPM Paradise

We have named an optimal environment for enterprise-wide project, program, portfolio and resource management The PPM Paradise. In their interaction, these PMO tools are of course customized to your individual requirements.

The PPM Paradise will help you or your decision-makers make informed decisions quickly in your complex multi-project environment. Yet, with such a tool environment, you also need the right processes and methods.

The PPM Paradise gives all roles involved peace of mind, knowing they have full control over their project environment: PMO, decision-makers, team leaders, project managers, project team members and controllers.

PMO Tools – The PPM Paradise

„The PPM Paradise as a fully integrated tool environment for project, program, portfolio and resource management (PPM)

The Advantages and Benefits of “The PPM Paradise”

Below, you will find the individual modules of the overview graphic presented with their respective benefits.

Modul 1: Complete Overview of Your Project Portfolio

PMO Tools – Complete overview of the project portfolio with The PPM Paradise

Complete overview of the project portfolio with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Insight into the “health” of the portfolio
  • Which projects are in the pipeline?
  • What risks are there?
  • What is each individual’s workload?
  • How is the overall budget doing?
  • Is the strategic contribution clear?
  • What decisions need to be made?

Module 2: Central Project List

PMO Tools – Up-to-date and central project list thanks to The PPM Paradise

Up-to-date and central project list thanks to The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Data will be in the database rather than in files
  • Only one correct latest version
  • Evolution-over-time perspective for data
  • Individual assignment of permissions
  • Basis for integration with different systems

Modul 3: Standardized Project Initiation

PMO Tools – Standardized project initiation thanks to The PPM Paradise

Standardized project initiation thanks to The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Central recording of ideas and project requests
  • Methodical approach with processes and workflows
  • Permissions and criteria for approval steps
  • Ensuring the planning quality of new projects

Module 4: Realistic Scenario Planning

PMO Tools – Realistic scenario planning with The PPM Paradise

Realistic scenario planning with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Scenarios for the timing of projects
  • Consideration of the priorities
  • Discernible resource demand for running and new projects
  • Actual availability of resources becomes visible
  • Variation of capacity of resources and skills is made possible

Module 5: Professional Project Control

PMO Tools – Professional project control due to The PPM Paradise

Professional project control due to The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • All documents in one place
  • Order, addenda
  • Stakeholder and risk management
  • Schedule, cost plan, resource plan
  • Status reports

Module 6: Control of Programs

PMO Tools – Control of programs with The PPM Paradise

Control of programs with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Cross-project dependencies
  • Combining important milestones in an overview
  • Schedule specifications from a master plan
  • Soft dependencies only for viewing
  • Direct dependencies for cases of milestone shifts

Module 7: Team Management

PMO Tools – Complete team management thanks to The PPM Paradise

Complete team management thanks to The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Involvement of team leaders in the planning process
  • Complete planning for all team members
  • Planning of absences
  • Recording all activities including operations
  • Request and commitment of individuals

Module 8: Work Management

PMO Tools – Work management with The PPM Paradise

Work management with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Involvement of all individuals in the planning process
  • Detailed planning by all team members
  • Estimation by the team members themselves
  • Status reporting for the individual tasks

Module 9: Time Tracking

PMO Tools – Time tracking with The PPM Paradise

Time tracking with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Central setting of the elements from project planning
  • Process for reminders
  • Detailed recording and correct assignment
  • Transfer to other systems

Module 10: Connection to Controlling

PMO Tools – Connection to controlling with The PPM Paradise

Connection to controlling with The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Central specifications for cost structures
  • Transfer of forecast from the projects to controlling
  • Transfer of actual hours from the projects to controlling
  • Transfer of actual cost from purchasing to the project managers (i.e. to the PM system)

Module 11: Integration of IT Systems

PMO Tools – Integration of IT systems in The PPM Paradise

Integration of IT systems in The PPM Paradise

Your benefits from this component

  • Each role works with the tool that is optimal for them
  • Latest data from other systems available everywhere
  • No errors due to manual transfer of data
  • Higher data quality
  • Greater efficiency in the day-to-day work in the project environment

Project Management Trends – PMO Survey 2020, TPG The Project Group

PMO Software Tools Recommended by TPG

The range of software tools for project management tasks is immense. Many of them are even specialized to the needs of individual industries. At this point, we cannot provide a complete market overview.

As Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Planisware implementation partner, we will therefore limit ourselves to software based on these technologies in the following overview and tool recommendation. In addition, we list our own TPG Tools purposefully enhancing the possibilities of Microsoft solutions and making your work even easier (linked to a powerful integration middleware for data sharing, e.g. between PPM system, ERP and work management tools).

Area of activity Tool recommendation What you should look out for
Project List
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Project 4 Web / Power Platform
  • SharePoint
  • Planisware
  • Jira
Central data storage with permissions and a basis for multi-project reports (not Excel!)
Multi-Project Reports
  • Power BI / Power Platform
  • Planisware
Reports build on the central data storage of the PPM solution, they should provide an evolution-over-time perspective
Idea Pipeline It should include workflows with approval processes
Project Proposals / Orders
  • edison365ideas
  • Power Platform
  • SharePoint
  • Planisware
  • Microsoft Office
Flexible forms and approval status
Change Requests
  • SharePoint
  • Power Platform
  • Microsoft Office
Flexible forms and approval status
Issue Management
  • SharePoint
  • Power Platform
  • Jira
Flexible list for joint editing
Risk Management
  • SharePoint
  • Power Platform
  • Microsoft Office (Excel)
Flexible list for joint editing
Project Status Reports
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Power BI / Power Platform
  • SharePoint
  • Planisware
  • Microsoft Office
  • Jira
  • Confluence
Combination of database query, various lists and the possibility of manual entry for traffic lights and text
Stakeholder Analysis
  • SharePoint
  • Power Platform
  • Microsoft Office (Excel)
Flexible list for joint editing
Scheduling
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Power Platform
  • Planisware
Central data storage, structuring of work packages and task relationships, critical path, etc.
Resource Planning for Projects
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Power Platform
  • Planisware
  • TPG CoRePlanner
Central resource pool from the PPM tool, rough resource planning detached from detailed scheduling
Resource Planning for Teams Complete planning, also of non-project related activities and absences, by the team leaders; interaction of project manager and team leader; Excel is only suited for getting started and in small teams
Capacity Planning for Portfolio Scenarios according to the priorities, based on resource management of projects and teams
Cost Planning
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Power Platform
  • Planisware
  • Excel
  • TPG CoRePlanner
Time-phased planning, multi-currency capability, differentiation of cost types
Time Tracking
  • Microsoft Project Server
  • Project Online
  • Planisware
  • Jira
Several entries can be booked to one task per day and with a comment each
PM Manual
  • SharePoint
  • Confluence
  • Microsoft Office
Web-based documentation, easy versioning
PM Knowledge Exchange
  • SharePoint
  • Confluence
  • Microsoft Office
Web-based, powerful search function, wiki, blog

 

Conclusion: Optimum PMO Tools

From the survey results regarding PMO tools, you have learned that companies that do not work with database-supported tools for project, portfolio and resource management (PPM) tend to be rather dissatisfied with their PMO tool environment. In the PPM environment, Excel is still a tool often used on its own. However, it causes many users significant “pain” which is why they want to get away from it. On the other hand, more than half the respondents desire integrated, database-supported PPM solutions.

Next, you have learned about an integrated environment for enterprise-wide database-supported PPM, namely The PPM Paradise. It provides important benefits for users: everyone is working with the tools that are optimal for their work thereby increasing efficiency and data quality; moreover, the basis for decision-making is improved. The solution can be individually tailored to the processes of your company. Gradual, modular implementation is possible.

For many years, the goal of our PPM solutions has been as follows: all roles involved have peace of mind, knowing they have full control over their project environment: PMO, decision-makers, team leaders, project managers, project team members and controllers. In this way, your projects will become more successful in the future, and your investment will pay off. Interested in learning the details? Contact us now.

What has been your experience with PMO tools? Please, let us know with a comment below!


Johann Strasser, The Project Group

Johann Strasser
The certified engineer has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001

After many years as a development engineer in the automotive and energy sectors, Johann Strasser spent a decade as an independent trainer and consultant in the field of project management. During his tenure, he also served as project manager for software projects in the construction industry and provided scheduling and cost management support for large-scale construction projects. At TPG, he applies his expertise in product development and consulting services for international clients. His special focus is on PMO, project portfolios, hybrid project management, and resource management. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.

You can read more about Johann Strasser on LinkedIn and XING.

 


Achim Schmidt-Sibeth_Projektmanagement in KrisenzeitenAchim Schmidt-Sibeth Senior Marketing Manager

 

After earning his engineering degree in environmental technology, he gained many years of experience in project management through his work at an engineering office, an equipment manufacturer, and a multimedia agency. Achim Schmidt-Sibeth and his team have been responsible for marketing and communication at TPG The Project Group for many years now.

Read more about Achim Schmidt-Sibeth on LinkedIn or XING

 

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