It is not surprising that we are seeing an alter in the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) landscape and the emergence of a new dividing line when you look at the impact that social, mobile, cloud, and big data trends are having on organizations. Not only this, but with the need to support Lean and Agile processes it has made today’s PPM tool choice more difficult than ever before. These changes have created a new dividing line between above-the-line and below-the-line tools.
A clear description of these tool definitions was provided in Forrester’s Project/Program Portfolio Management White Paper from Q4, 2012. In this paper, they have defined above-the-line tools as those which support strategic planning focused on value, risks, and benefits and below-the-line tools as those which focus on managing demand and day-to-day work. This whitepaper concluded that several vendors have functionality that straddles the line, but few vendors are strong across the board. So, what does this mean for organizations looking for a PPM Tool? How should they determine which side of the line they should gravitate to?
The Project/Program Portfolio Management White Paper determined that much of the traditional tooling used particularly by business technology organizations is in a state of change and renewal to better support short sprints of development activity, team-oriented execution, resource allocation, and other Agile practices. This is something that anyone involved in project or portfolio management has surely heard a lot about and even seen common practices changing. What this means for the PPM tool market is that segmentation has become much clearer based on changes largely driven by the adoption of Lean governance in support of Agile development. So, depending on the current state of your governance an above-the-line tool or a below-the-line tool may be better for your needs.
The Forrester evaluation uncovered a market in which significant differences exist among vendors and offerings, which has largely made them either an above-the-line tool or a below-the-line tool, but rarely strong in both areas. Above-the-line vendors have more sophisticated strategic portfolio planning functionality, targeting analysis that considers benefits, value, and fit, while work-oriented vendors emphasize transactional project health such as scope, cost, and time. This not only helps you to determine what you need based on governance, but also what you need based on your maturity.
In making your decision on which PPM tools you should consider, Forrester has defined the leading vendors as those who provide robust top-down reporting capabilities, allow organizations to perform critical alignment and value-based analysis based upon user-entered information as well as data automatically imported from third-party tools and they support strategic, project, application, and service portfolios to varying levels.
This new dividing line can help you determine which side of the fence you need to sit on right now, but there are also many other aspects that you need to take into consideration when selecting a tool. For more insight into determining the right tool for you, check out, ‘What to look for in a Project Management Software Package.’