When we think about Project Management Office, a project management software is pretty much a necessity. However, there are many other solutions that can make the life of a project manager easier in several facets from productivity to communication. In our last article on apps for PMOs we introduced the first 7 software applications, today we continue the list by presenting you with another 6 tools that will make your work easier and faster. Thank us later ?

 

1. Airtable

Combine Excel, Pinterest, Trello and a database management system and you have Airtable. No jokes. Airtable is an extremely powerful solution that enables you to visualize the same data in various ways: table, Kanban, blocks (Pinterest style), calendar and forms. It’s so versatile that it can be used for almost any activity that requires a database.

logo Airtable

Pros

Airtable is powerful and flexible. It allows you to manage in a single location the data you probably would have separated into different areas. For example, you can use it for demand management in conjunction with ITM Platform. You can create an internal form for project proposals from employees, a table view for project managers to manage the proposals, and a blocks view accessible to the whole organization to inform of the selected projects. Airtable is also customizable with “blocks”, a premium feature that allows users to add new functionalities to tables.

Cons

While great for managing, Airtable is quite poor on the communication side. While there’s the possibility to comment on each line of the table, that’s the extent of its communication capabilities given that there’s no chat feature .

 

2.Visio

If you have ever needed to design a flowchart or a diagram you are probably going to love this one. Microsoft Visio is a diagramming and vector graphics application that is used to design charts swiftly and easily.

logo visio

Pros

Apart from being easy to use, Visio is part of the Microsoft Office family of solutions, which means that it is perfectly integrated with other common solutions like Word or Excel. It also allows users to design 3D map diagrams and to pull information from external sources that can update automatically.

Cons

The main issue of Visio is its compatibility as it only works on Windows. Furthermore, it doesn’t allow for real-time collaboration, without mentioning the hefty price tag (considering that it is unlikely a software you’ll use every day).

 

3. PMO Value Ring

The PMO Value Ring is the perfect software to use in conjunction with a project management software. The software is designed by PMOs for PMOs and is aimed at providing a consistent framework to manage the PMO across different stages of its life cycle.

logo PMO value ring

An example of a complete cycle in PMO Value Ring:

Pros

The tool forces the user to be consistent in the definition of the PMO and all its elements, such as Functions, Roles, Stakeholders etc. All the data can be accessed in a consolidated dashboard view that scores several different aspects like ROI or maturity.

Cons

The downside of the PMO Value Ring is that it is not integrated with any other solution, which means that all the data should be inputted manually. Furthermore, the software enhances and facilitates the management of the PMO but it is separated from the actual project management activity of the office.

 

4. ClicData

ClicData is a very powerful data visualization and BI software. It allows users to create and share dashboards that are automatically updated from the data source.

logo click-data

Pros

Clicdata is integrated with almost anything, at least with all the main apps used for business. This is great as it allows to create dashboards that can then be shared with, for example, a director or CxO, that needs to have access to live data. Another strength of ClicData is that it permits cross-evaluation of data or automatic database merge.

Cons

The interface is drag and drop but this does not mean that it is easy to use: the logic behind the interface is not always the most intuitive and the user needs to have a clear understanding of the structure of the data imported, which is not always bvious when importing data directly from a third-party source. Also, more complex dashboards require some time to set up so ensure to allocate enough time when implementing ClicData.

 

5. Sharepoint

I’m sure many of you are already familiar with SharePoint. For those who don’t know it’s a web-based collaborative platform that is primarily sold as a document management and storage system. But the product is highly flexible and usage varies substantially between organizations. Sharepoint is commonplace in larger organizations where the document management is complex and encompasses several departments.

logo SharePoint

Pros

The main advantage of SharePoint is in its document management capabilities: given its configuration capability you can create several Site Collections, limit their access, from one single, clean interface.

Cons

The main cons of SharePoint are tied to its main strength: as a consequence of being highly configurable Sharepoint is quite complex to manage in its full capability, meaning that you’ll often need to dedicate human resources or hire a consultant.

 

6. Risk assessment matrix

Good planning is essential, so that project managers and the respond to the emergence of risks. ITM Platform’s Risk Assessment Matrix evaluates risks depending on their impact and probability, allowing to visualize the level of risk exposure. Thanks to that information, you can prioritize risk management and reduce exposure!

logo Risk Matrix

Pros

This matrix allows you to register, quantify and share risks and you can share them collaboratively as well.

Cons

The tool can only be accessed online and only covers the risk management part of a Project manager work routine. However, if you need a more integrated application you can try ITM Platform, where the risk management functionality is integrated with a whole set of their features…   What do you think of these 6 tools? Are there any that you’d like to see covered that are not in this list? Let us know

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tablet, phone, map, diagramsWhen we talk about project management tools, we often think about gantt charts, project plans and project reports. But when the user is a PMO officer, things are quite different. You probably haven’t thought of all these apps to help you manage your project portfolio.

One of the major responsibilities of a Project Management Office is to adopt a technological suite that supports the daunting mission of coordinating the entire project portfolio of an organization. Additionally, many projects have a heavy data print, often in the form of unstructured data, or data without a clear impact on work quality. However, being able to make decisions based on the analysis of those type of untapped data is extremely important for both project leaders and C-level executives. The PMO in that context should assume a facilitating and catalyzing role.

Each PMO officer ought to select with care the technological portfolio that best meets project nature and the governance model. In this article, we recommend several software applications that can be very useful to organize your ideas and have a hold of a complex, corporate project portfolio. Not all of them are project management nor PPM tools, but they all have clear benefits in this world. Consider them for your own toolkit!

Demonstrate the benefits of your PMO with ITM Platform. Try the free 14 day trial.

Whether it’s for a corporate PMO or an IT PMO; for strategic projects, R&D or client projects, these apps can be an essential part of your daily operations.

The most useful apps and tools for PMO managers

1. PPM

Because a professional tool to manage your entire project portfolio is the first duty of any PMO.

The tool: ITM Platform

ITM Platform - Projects Programs and Portfolio

If you don’t already know it, ITM Platform is a cloud-based project, program and portfolio management tool (PPM) with a core strength: it doesn’t need heavy configuration work and and enables an incredibly fast roll-out. With a simplified user experience aligned with the methodological best practices of PMBOK and Prince2, ITM Platform supports the setup of new PMOs with predefined dashboards, customizable reports, plus all the features that a project manager needs.

Pros: ITM Platform is the simplest way to communicate the status of critical projects with senior management, letting them know how money is being spent and supporting more informed decision-making.

Cons: As with any other PPM tool, an adoption plan is required to manage the roll-out, ensure that all project teams are involved and that the system data are reliable.

Want us to show the advantages ITM Platform can bring? Request a free online demonstration.

2. Dashboards and Business Intelligence

In the 21st Century, information must be visual. If you want to make data analysis, you will at least need a robust project that can visualize project reports and establish dynamic relationships between variables.

The tool: Power BI

Power BI - powerful SaaS for project dashboards

Power BI: SaaS brother of Excel and cousin of Tableau.

Excel’s SaaS brother and Tableu’s cousin, Power BI is Microsoft’s data visualization tool. It uses the language M (same as Excel), and can be connected to any external source through API.

Pros: Once plugged to your data, it provides a really friendly experience to analyze data… with Microsoft’s quality.

Cons: In order to onboard Power BI it’s highly recommendable to get the help of a programmer that plugs into the data sources – small teams and organizations may have issues here.

How to connect it to ITM Platform:  Follow this basic tutorial to use ITM Platform as a data source through the open API: although the tutorial talks avout excel, it’s really the same code.

3. Ticketing and development

IT maintenance and software development teams have very specific work management needs. It’s often useful to adopt software that supports change requirement and issue tickets, as well as agile sprints.

The tool: JIRA

logo JIRA

JIRA, from Atlassian, is the standard product for the management of development teams.

JIRA, by Atlassian, is the golden standard for managing development teams.

Pros: JIRA makes it really easy to report issues, user stories and epics to development teams, attach supporting documentation, mention involved people and assign tasks to a given sprint.

Cons: Reporting is not its most satisfactory aspect.

How to connect it with ITM Platform:  The native connector allows to send tasks and projects from JIRA to ITM Platform. Just add your JIRA url and actívate the connector!

This easy integration allows PMOs to report and control their development portfolio from ITM Platform.

4. Team communication

If your team doesn’t have a nice communication environment, they will find it somewhere else.

The tool: Slack

logo Slack

I’m sure you know Slack by now. Its combination of IRC-type chat with in-built work management apps has transformed it into a really powerful tool to connect and coordinate teams: channels by project, attachments, checklists, code snippets… While no technology is radically innovative, the product is unbeatable.

Pros: Slack’s Marketplace hosts hundreds of SaaS apps that will boost your productivity enormously.

Cons: While the freemium option is quite elastic, the cost per user and month is high, but you will have to pay it if you don’t want to lose stored data.

How to connect it to ITM Platform: ITM Teambot, ITM Platform’s app for Slack, allows any user find out their assigned tasks and projects, report effort and progress, as well as add comments to their ITM Platform projects, directly from their Slack chat.

5. Demand management: compile change requests

All PMOs face change requests that exceed by far the capacity of available resources. But before ideas can be analyzed and approved, they must live in one place.

The tool: ITM Platform templates for Zapier

Zapier - task management

The ITM Platform templates in Zapier allow you to collect tasks from anywhere in the cloud.

Thanks to Zapier you can send tasks to an ITM Platform project from hundreds of apps, like Gmail, Google sheets, Dropbox, Evernote… If you take into account the possibilities of multiple-step zaps, there are few limits!

Pros: Empower your entire organization to participate in a culture of innovation and give them an authorized channel to send change requests to the PMO

Cons: Honestly speaking, Zapier is very reliable, and for small data flows it can be even used for free. Of course, the safe bet is to stick to processes that can be automated without affecting performance.

How to connect it to ITM Platform: To understand how to set up a zap you can follow our tutorial, use popular zap templates (below), or use this Google Sheets template.

Zapier, demand management, Create a task compilator in 5 steps

The template to collect tasks in Google Sheet and send them to ITM Platform.

6. Diagrams

Diagramming processes and workflows is one of the most useful ways to promote change, create new procedures and make sure you’re working scientifically towards organizational improvement. A diagrammed PMO is a better managed PMO!

The tool: Lucid Chart

logo Lucid Chart

Lucid Chart is a leader in the niche of professional diagrams

Lucid Chart is leader in this software niche. That said, there’s a lot of really trustworthy competitors, and they’re all using similar license plans. Try on your own a couple of them and go with what you like. If the PMO has only a few users, the cost will be neglectable.

Pros: Do you want to explain complex procedures that affect different areas of your company? Forget pen and paper.

Cons: Very few. In the case of LucidChart, it can even be imported and exported to Microsoft Visio.

7. Big Data Analytics

Big Data won’t be a passing fad for PMOs. If they are in a corporation, they may have to coordinate internal big data projects; in smaller settings, data generated by project teams can be monitored with specific solutions.

The tool: Apache Hadoop

logo Hadoop

Hadoop, from Apache, is the well-known programming framework for distributed data analytics.

Apache Hadoop is the better known software for distributed data analytics.

Pros: The sheer amount of references of documentation that you can fin don Hadoop has no end.

Cons: Compared to all the suggestions above, it’s a programming language, and not a finished product –it may escape the authority and skillset of the PMO team.

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The management and planning of resources is an essential process in business, since it allows the monitoring of projects and their results, as well as anticipating the emergence of risks. a hipster caucasian businessman with beard standing angry pointing his wristwatch inside his office. angry concept . a contemporary style with pastel palette soft blue tinted background. vector flat design illustration. square layout.

The best way to handle the management of resources is to use some kind of assistant that helps to know, plan and manage the economic and human resources that are available, with the goal of achieving maximum efficiency. For this reason, many companies consider resource management as a priority.

Here are some practices that resource management can bring to your company.

Understand the difference between occupied time and utilized time  

If you realize that the employees are working all the time but are not reaching the goals set, there is something that is not working well: there is a mismatch between the time spent and the use of time efficiently. They may not be using the right procedures; they do not have the necessary technology or they need to update their training.

Are you ready to own your time? Start tracking your estimates live with ITM Platform for free.

Of course, it is also possible that project managers are not taking into account precautionary measures when estimating. Here are the 3 keys to estimating realistic times for your projects:

  1. Two out of ten working hours are not productive

In most countries, you have 8 working hours. However, keep in mind that if you have resources in France, for example, then there are 7 working hours.

However many hours there are in a working day, not all of those hours are productive. Employees will have to participate in meetings, interact with clients or engage in unplanned tasks.

Therefore, it is advisable to calculate that around 80% of actual hours worked will be productive. This is not a guarantee, on the contrary: although the efficiency of your equipment will exceed this threshold, a lot can happen that may reduce the amount of hours dedicated to a project.

  1. Find out how many resources are assigned to each project

Although it would be most efficient to have your analysts dedicated exclusively to a project from start to finish, there are plenty of reasons why this is neither usual nor practical: from small projects where only specific participation of certain experts is required or highly specialized tasks concentrated in certain phases of the project, to very complex projects that displace some resources from their usual projects.

It is logical that effectiveness decreases as the number of projects to which a resource is allocated increases.

via GIPHY

For example, if you only assign one hour a day for a critical task, it is very possible that your project will be delayed: the employee assigned to the task is likely to perceive that there are more important things to do, unless you properly communicate that this task is your top priority.

  1. Calculate how much time will be spent on learning

Estimates are usually based on the time spent on a similar project. But, as it is said, the devil’s in the detail.

It is possible that some of the differences in the new project will hide challenges that team members will have to learn before overcoming, either in a planned or on-the-job process. Detecting these critical points will allow us to better identify if there are more suitable team members for the project than others or if it is worth outsourcing some parts of the process.

Support estimations with applications

Adequate project management begins by identifying these problems before undertaking new projects. Whether it be short-term or business operations, which can become problems to estimate and correctly allocate the times.

That is why it is so important to use applications that monitor the exact state of all projects of the company in real time.

For example, with ITM Platform Teambot, you can make it easier for your team members to:

  • Consult active projects, reducing the transit from one project to another
  • Report time spent on a task in real time, improving your future estimates
  • Send feedback from a contrasting chat environment, such as Slack

Once the results of the analysis are known, the reasons for deviations can be detected and decisions can be taken to make production processes more efficient.

If you want to discover how to better control the time management of your team with ITM Platform, we invite you to request a personalized demo, where you can speak to one of our experts.

 

Juan Delgado
Blogger
ITM Platform
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