Project Management Maturity Part 2: What is PPM? (Project Portfolio Management)

What is PPM? Today we hear so much about it, but what exactly is it and how many organizations are really doing it effectively? What makes implementation of this discipline so difficult?

The root cause is disparate systems and lack of process standardization make reporting and managing projects and portfolios very challenging. Organizations that concentrate on maturing their project management discipline should read this blog to gain tips on how to get started with an effective PPM practice.

What is PPM?

Wikipedia does a great job on the definition: “PPM is the centralized management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project managers and project management offices (PMOs) to analyze and collectively manage current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics. The objectives of PPM are to determine the optimal resource mix for delivery and to schedule activities to best achieve an organization’s operational and financial goals, while honoring constraints imposed by customers, strategic objectives, or external real-world factors.”


What is PPM? Portfolio Chart


Portfolios are groupings of projects that have common characteristics (example: customer, product line, etc.). The portfolio will not change, but the underlying projects and proposals will continue to change and evolve. The art of PPM is to plan resources, analyze data and resultant KPIs, and understand each project’s status all in one ecosystem (people, process, and tools).

What is PPM? Project Ecosystem

6 Steps to Implement PPM:

  1. Get buy-in from all stakeholders: executives, functional leaders, portfolio managers, project managers all need to agree or at least understand the vision and the reason for PPM.
  2. Build a team with champions. Make sure you pick a team with the necessary expertise and if you don’t have the necessary expertise, consider hiring an outside firm. If you have a centralized project management office (PMO), they can be a huge help in providing expertise and direction for the PPM implementation team.
  3. Begin collecting project and program data in a central repository. An integrated project portfolio management tool will make a significant difference in the availability and accuracy of the data used for decision making.
  4. Common processes for all projects for the organization is a MUST. Processes must be current and realistic, and teams need role-based training. Projects all have nuances, so it is important to have tailorable processes to accommodate project size and type. The implementation team should lead this charge along with the PMO.
  5. Establish portfolios (in accordance with strategy) and align the projects to them. Assign portfolio managers and assure portfolio reporting is available. Common KPIs should be established with visual dashboards for the portfolio management team.
  6. Roll-out the discipline of PPM. Advertise to the organization and provide role-based training for all stakeholders throughout the organization.

Benefits of PPM:

  1. Common communication of business information produced from sound processes, assuring decisions are made based on accurate information that aligns with corporate goals
  2. Ability to manage the opportunity pipeline of all projects that can be rolled up to program and portfolio
  3. What-iffing and modeling aids decision making by allowing you to establish the best path for the business. Revenue, cash, project, new orders, and growth are a few financial metrics that support strategy
  4. Enterprise planning of resources assuring right resources, right time, and right place
  5. Analyze KPIs at all levels of the organization and communicate to the enterprise
  6. Portfolio reporting and drill down so that the status of all projects can be analyzed as a part of the overall portfolio
  7. Visibility into all the projects in a portfolio making sure that all projects are performing to expectations
  8. Common governance of projects and programs allowing for a repeatable and tailorable process for all project sizes and types.

Unanet Can Help You Get Started with PPM!

To recap, what is PPM? The key to project management maturity!

What better way to achieving project management maturity than with project management software supporting your projects? Unanet’s Project Portfolio and Project Portfolio Financials software offer one single source of truth for every aspect of your projects: expense reporting, budgeting and forecasting, time reporting, pipeline management, and more. We’ve helped over 1,100 customers transform their project management processes. See Unanet in action by requesting a demo!

Download our white paper, “Benefits of Maturing Your Project Management Discipline” to learn more!

Have you read our Project Management Maturity Part 1 blog yet? Check it out!

Kim Koster

Kim Koster

Kim is an experienced executive who brings over 30 years of experience in project management, project accounting, EVMS,  government contract and accounting compliance, and communications.

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