Let’s be honest: portfolio management can be hard. Like, really hard.

You’ve constantly got to be assessing and reassessing KPIs, allocating and reallocating resources, measuring assets and projects against lofty strategic goals, and then making difficult choices as a result.

That’s a tough job, so you owe it to your team to do anything you can to make portfolio management smarter and more efficient.

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what project portfolio management (PPM) software is built to do.

But first things first:

What is portfolio management?

Portfolio management is the selection and maintenance of investments that are going to match an organization’s risk tolerance and help it to meet its strategic goals.

To be honest, the term “investment” can be used pretty loosely, here.

For example, you might oversee financial investments in the form of stocks, bonds, or a mutual fund (that’s the more traditional definition you’ll hear).

In business terms, an investment could also be an asset like a new headquarters, a big project or initiative, financial resources, or even somebody’s valuable time.

What’s the goal of portfolio management? To balance your risks and rewards.

Project portfolio management (PPM) is the management of the processes, methods, and technologies used by project management offices as well as project managers in order to analyze and manage proposed projects.

Project portfolio management is basically about choosing the right project with strategic planning.

The process ensures that all of your organization’s portfolio items align with your wider business objectives, and it’s a smart way to centralize control over everything you’ve got cooking.

Often an organization decides on a strategy, and it’s up to the portfolio manager to select the programs and projects that will deliver results that align with said strategy.

Some everyday use cases for PPM are:

  • Identifying potential project returns
  • Forecasting risks
  • Facilitating communication
  • Obtaining stakeholder buy-in

Now that you know what project portfolio management is, it’s time to dig into the purpose…

What is project portfolio management software?

Project Portfolio Management (PPM) software is a tool designed to help portfolio managers or project managers streamline portfolio planning, management, and project delivery.

PPM software is designed to connect teams with their project managers, and support project plans on an enterprise-wide high-level.

Your basic, run-of-the-mill project management software would enable you to plot out the critical path of a project and map out task dependencies.

Project portfolio management software goes a step further by enabling a project portfolio manager to map out constraints and dependencies over the course of an entire portfolio of projects—not just a single project in isolation.

That helps project portfolio managers ensure there are no scheduling issues, overlapping goals, or budget conflicts that could end up costing the team time and money.

Translation: PPM software eliminates waste and maximizes efficiency to ensure that your portfolio is delivering as much value as humanly possible.

What are the benefits of project portfolio management, and how do you get the most out of it?

We’re going to take a look at 4 of the key benefits that come with project portfolio management, including a few of our top tips for how to do project portfolio management well.

1) Align projects with the overall strategy

Using project portfolio management helps you keep your projects in line with the overall strategic direction of the company.

But before you align your projects with the overall strategy, you first need to know what these objectives are. After all, there’s no use creating a project portfolio without knowing what your business goals are first.

Using work management software can make this process much easier to keep on top of. With the right platform, you can easily see the company objectives and marketing goals in one place.

monday.com allows users to visualize their quarterly objectives

So no need to worry about digging through hundreds of emails to find the information you need to manage your project portfolio. Much easier than doing it manually, don’t you think?

2) Project selection

Hands up if you’ve ever had difficulty saying no to a potential project?

We’ve all been there. You want to say yes to every new project that comes your way to help your business develop. But sometimes, saying no is the best thing you can do for business.

And that’s where project portfolio management can help.

With project portfolio management, you’ll be able to filter the projects that contribute to the company strategy, and the projects that won’t. That way, you’ll only say yes to the right project.

The following diagram sums up the process pretty well:

monday.com helps users select the right projects for their project portfolio

(Image Source)

All of the ideas for potential projects filter through the start of the funnel. The purpose of the funnel is to only choose the projects that meet specific criteria. And by specific criteria, we mean the company goals and objectives.

As a result, you’re left with a collection of projects that are all focused on achieving the company goals.

So the next time someone approaches you with a project that you don’t want in your portfolio, it’ll be much easier to shoot them down and stay focused on your priorities.

3) Balances the portfolio

Project portfolio management is a great way to make sure that your project portfolio is well-balanced.

But what do we mean when we say ‘well-balanced’?

A well balanced portfolio features just the right amount of risk, and focuses on the bigger picture. An unbalanced portfolio might include projects that are too risky, not risky enough, or that focus too much on short-term results.

So how does project portfolio management help you balance out your project portfolio? 

We’re glad you asked.

Using project portfolio management, you’re easily able to measure the varying factors that keep your project portfolio in check. These include:

  • Risk vs. reward: analyzing any potential risk in comparison to the rewards of succeeding.
  • Alignment with strategy: keeping your projects on track with the company goals, otherwise known as the bigger picture.
  • Top level information: if you’re using project portfolio management software, you’ll be able to quickly see the top level information for each project. This allows you to quickly identify any project that throws off the balance of your portfolio.

4) Resource utilization and capacity planning

Have you ever asked yourself how you can make sure you’re using your resources as efficiently as possible?

Well, effective project portfolio management allows you to do exactly this. It provides the project portfolio manager with the opportunity to focus their resources on projects that really matter.

Whether that’s refusing to take on a project that doesn’t fit with the project portfolio — or making sure that your critical resources are used on the most important projects — project portfolio management is a sure-fire way to keep on top of your resource management.

And even more so if you’re using work management software for your project portfolio management.

With a platform like monday.com, you can easily keep on top of your resource allocation. Take a look at our resource management template to see with your own eyes!

monday.com's resource management template

What features should you look for in project portfolio management software?

OK, so we’ve talked about what project portfolio management software is and how it could benefit your organization. But you’re probably left wondering what sort of features you should be looking for when you’re shopping around for PPM platforms.

Every project portfolio management solution has its own strengths and weaknesses but you shouldn’t settle for any project portfolio management tool without a few core functions.

Project lifecycle management

PPM software should be able to help you manage multiple projects from concept to final delivery.

That’ll help you improve your project outcomes by ensuring that your business strategy is always reflected in each portfolio item.

One feature PPM tools use to manage that lifecycle is to create risk-return profiles for each of your portfolio items so you can easily compare objectives at a glance.

This ensures each project aligns with your wider strategic business objectives and you can make informed decisions.

monday.com screenshot showing project management view

Risk management

Your chosen project portfolio management software should enable you to identify risks and assign responsibility for managing those risks to team members.

Most PPM tools will also allow you to create risk management plans that establish change management workflows so that you’ve always got a way to deal with new issues that pop up.

Resource management

A good PPM platform should be able to offer you real-time visibility on your portfolio resource capacity planning via a configurable dashboard.

That’ll enable you to assess your resource utilization at any given time, and ensure they’re balanced to maximize value and bolster efficiencies.

Advanced reporting and analytics

Portfolio project management software allows you to track portfolio and project progress against set criteria.

That could be your budget, project timeline, or progress towards achieving project milestones or strategic objectives.

Your ideal PPM tool will enable you to monitor KPIs in real-time and export data to give you quick and simple snapshots that will contextualize your portfolio performance.

We don’t like to toot our own horn, but advanced reporting with monday.com is powerful and super easy to use.

monday.com screenshot showing advanced reporting capability

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Check out the features monday.com can offer you to help manage your portfolio.

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A closer look at some essential features found in portfolio management software

This section considers some of the features we feel are essential in great portfolio management software.

Gantt charts

One feature that helps PMOs keep multiple projects on track is the Gantt chart. A Gantt chart displays work and timescales visually as a horizontal bar chart.

Gantt charts have been around since the 1900s, and started as hand-drawn diagrams to portray work schedules. But, today, Gantt charts are software-based and can change and adapt quickly when priorities shift.

Some of the key elements represented on the Gantt chart are:

  • Work in progress, an easy way to visualize your projects.
  • Time periods to show the estimated duration each project should take.
  • Ownership, so that you know who’s responsible for actioning work.
  • Status, showing you the current progress of each project.

Many project managers find Gantt charts to be an indispensable tool for managing work. You can also use them to manage a whole portfolio of projects.

Gantt charts are extra useful when your portfolio of projects contains multiple complex projects with overlapping deadlines.

For projects with interdependencies ― where one project requires completion before another can start ― Gantt charts help you time things right.

If you tracked your project portfolio’s dependencies using a Gantt chart, here’s what it could look like on monday.com.

Screenshot of a Gantt chart in monday.com

Resource management

When you’re responsible for managing resources across projects, it can be a daunting job balancing staff workload.

As we mentioned above, limited/taxed resources are claimed as the primary cause of project failure 21% of the time. But, the Wellingtone 2020 State of Project management report claims that only 23% use formal resource management software solutions.

Additionally, 54% did not have access to real-time KPIs for their resources either. How can you manage resources across a portfolio of projects if you don’t understand their distribution in real-time?

The workload view is a graphical representation of whether your team members are underutilized, overutilized, or have the right amount of work allocated to them.

It uses colored circles to show work levels, and you can easily redistribute work between staff by clicking into their circle to view a breakdown of the projects they are working on.

Budget management

Delivering a project on budget is one of the key criteria for judging success. For PMOs managing multiple projects, keeping track of costs across all projects is an important undertaking that requires close attention to detail.

Most projects begin with a set budget — an estimation of the financial resources required to deliver the primary goals. Then, as work progresses, PMOs need to maintain running totals of expenditure to prevent overspend.

Effective budget management, though, is an area still in need of work for the PMO. The 2020 PMI survey found that only 59% of projects are completed within budget.

HR costs are likely to be a significant part of your overall budgets, so it makes sense to keep track of this cost across your entire project portfolio.

One of the helpful tools that will allow you to monitor HR costs on monday.com is the time-tracking feature. You can add a time-tracking column to any work board, and your team can use a purpose-built widget to record hours worked.

Once you have the time data recorded, you can further calculate costs using a formula column. Tracking these costs against the original estimation will help you quickly see if your projects are keeping within budget.

Marketing budget template on monday.com

Customization

It would be nice if all of the projects in your portfolio required the same initial organization and setup. This way, the portfolio management software you use to manage your workload would just need a bit of cut, copy, and paste every time you added a new project in.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always like that, and you end up managing a range of projects that are frustratingly diverse.

The portfolio management software you choose to keep track of your duties should be flexible enough to cope with all eventualities.

Alongside flexibility, you should look out for:

  • The ability to survey projects using multiple view types.
  • A clutter-free workspace to focus on only what’s important.
  • The ability to reduce repetitive tasks through automation.
  • Integration with a variety of common business applications.
  • A package that encourages team collaboration and communication.

monday.com is infinitely customizable, has dozens of integrations, automation options, and fosters collaboration.

We know we’re biased, but we think it’s pretty special.

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How can monday.com be used for project portfolio management?

Let’s face it: most companies have got way too many projects to keep track of day-in and day-out. It can be a real nightmare trying to maintain an effective asset management strategy and minimize risk across dozens of projects simultaneously.

That’s why all the best portfolio managers use a PPM tool to streamline workflows and boost their portfolio management capabilities — and you can’t do any better than monday.com.

We can talk ourselves up all day, but don’t just take our word for it. You can also check out real reviews on Capterra to see how monday.com compares with other PPM platforms.

By using monday.com’s Portfolio Management template you’ll gain access to concise and valuable snapshots illustrating your portfolio’s overall health and profitability.

You can also quickly import and export all your project data to streamline all your workflows.

You’ll also benefit from dynamic portfolio and project dashboard views — we have 8+ in total, including Gantt and Kanban — to help monitor your total investments or resources across each project within your portfolio.

monday.com screenshot showing Portfolio Management template

With monday.com, you’re also going to be getting some added features that give you greater flexibility over how you view and manage your project portfolio.

You’ll benefit from:

  • Columns that record who’s representing each portfolio item so that users always know who they should go to if they need information about that project’s performance
  • Flexible data interaction so everyone on the team can break down portfolio items to find and look at data as it relates to their specific role
  • Dozens of app integrations so all your data in is one place whenever you need it
  • Automations like quick imports so that you don’t have to manually input all your portfolio data onto your portfolio board

And, you can set up all sorts of other automation recipes to improve collaboration and keep your stakeholders in the loop.

For example, you could automate email notifications to your head of accounting every time your project team hits a budget milestone on a portfolio item.

Want to learn more? We’d love to walk you through it. Check out our Portfolio Management template.

Let’s supercharge your portfolio

A traditional task management or project management tool can be awesome, but they’re only designed to support companies at a project or departmental level. Project portfolio management software connects those dots to support project processes at a much wider portfolio level.

monday.com Work OS can be used for both, and by everyone on your team and high-level organization.

That means you’ll benefit from constant oversight of every project within your portfolio—leading to more efficient resource allocation, mitigation of project risks, and delivering higher value for stakeholders.

Luckily for you, a Work OS like monday.com can deliver all the benefits of a PPM platform and more.

So if you’re ready to supercharge your portfolio management capability, try monday.com for free, no credit card reuired!

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