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!

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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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business man, parachute, crocodile, seaLet’s face it, even if you have the utmost confidence that your project will be a success, there is always the possibility something can go wrong. Wise project managers will identify the project risks in the early stages of the project to give themselves more time to develop a plan on how they can avoid them if they arise. However, risk management is an ongoing activity and can’t be done just once.

Here are a few key components of risk management:

A Contingency Plan

Essentially, this is a plan developed to help the company respond to a possible future situation that could occur but isn’t outlined in the original or “expected” plan. The project team will find solutions ahead of time in the case that the problem appears. A contingency plan is also often referred to as being “plan B”, one which can be put in place in only a moments notice.

For instance, suppose the completion of a product significantly depends on purchasing a component from a supplier. Although for whatever reason, the deal is unable to be made which can set the end date of the project way behind schedule. To prevent crisis from occurring, project managers will use contingency plans that will be implemented immediately to resolve the issue.

The Risk Assessment Matrix

This is a well known project management tool increasingly used in risk management. In a single page, it will organize all of your possible risks based on their likelihood of occurring and the severity of their consequences. You will need this in order to develop an effective risk mitigation plan and project strategies.

The risk management matrix can only be completed after you have filled out a risk assessment form. In this form you will have to uncover and list out all potential risks that may be a threat to your project or company. You will need to gather data about these possible risks, understand their consequences, determine the probability of them occurring and brainstorm possible prevention strategies.

The risk assessment matrix will then be able to provide the project management team with a quick and useful overview of the risks to help them prioritize which should be dealt with first.

The team will need to work together to decide which level of risk can be tolerated and which ones should just be “accepted” and left to be watched. Our new free tool for risk analysis allows you to register, quantify and share risks.  You can also save different sets of risks, such as those for a project, business, process or any other context in which you are working. You can share them collaboratively as well.

Risk assessment matrix

Each circle represents the estimation of a risk. Colors and sizes of circles depend on the exposure level of the risk. They are fully configurable, simply click on the “customize values and thresholds” tab.  

If you click on the “see matrix” button in each of the risks, you’ll be able to see all of the possible combinations for impact, probability and place of the product; i.e the numerical value of the level of risk exposure.

Risk matrix

Risk Mitigation Planning

This process involves creating possible options to help strengthen future opportunities and reduce threats to your project objectives. It will require project management team members to continuously track the current identified risks while searching for new ones. They will also need to evaluate how successful the risk management process is throughout the development of the project.

It is best if you refer back to the chart below when applying risk mitigation. The Risk Mitigation Handling Option you choose to use will once again depend on the probability of a risk occurring and the severity of its costs. There are several handling options that can be used:

Probality, Comsequence, risk matrix

Avoid: You can change your current project requirements to reduce the risk from occurring. However, don’t be surprised if this also impacts your schedule, funding, etc.

Control: Implement new actions to diminish the impact the risk will have.

Transfer: Reassign the projects responsibility or authority to another stakeholder willing to take on the risk

Watch: Constantly monitor the project and its environment for any changes that may impact or increase the risk.

Assume: You may choose to acknowledge that a particular risk exists and then willingly make the decision to accept it without trying to control it in any way.

In a nutshell, risk mitigation planning requires you to think about the probability of the risk occurring and materializing as well as the impact it will have on your objectives if it does.

Steps to Risk Management

Simply put, risk management is a 2 step process that starts with determining what risks exist and then handling those risks. Although, you should develop an action plan which includes all of the 5 steps mentioned in the PMBok:

Step 1: Initiating

This step is all about brainstorming. You will need to determine the project manager, the company culture and understand the business case. You must review and uncover possible risk sources by determining initial constraints, requirements, assumptions and agreements. If you have an strong project management tool, like  ITM Platform, you will be able to categorize and prioritize risks depending on if they have a high impact or high probability of occurrence.

Step 2: Planning

This stage involves developing a plan for each knowledge area. To do so, you must perform risk identification, qualitative and quantitative risk analysis and risk response planning. Once this is done you will need to finalize your management plans by developing a performance measurement baseline. By doing so, you will now have successfully developed responses to the risks you previously uncovered.

Step 3: Executing

From here on you will want to execute all of the work being done according to the PM plan you have created in the previous stage. Look to continuously improve by following the processes but also implementing approved changes. You must determine whether the processes are effective by evaluating individual or team performances and performing quality audits. Make sure you give strong feedback as well as recognition to employees when a job is well done. Following your management plans will reduce risk likelihood but will also prepare you in case something does arise.

Step 4: Monitoring & Controlling

With change can come brand new risks, but you will need change to occur if you want your business to grow. In this case, you must bring on change in a controlled way. Start off by measuring the performance of your team members as well as the project as a whole by comparing it to other metrics you have in your PM plan. Determine whether or not variances require corrective actions or change requests. You should request changes regardless and then update the PM plan accordingly.

Step 5: Closing

You must start off by assessing whether the work completed is done based on the requirements listed previously. Gain acceptance over the final product and then hand it off to be able to receive customer feedback. After this is all done you should record the lessons you have learned, all of the risks you may have encountered and the knowledge gained. All of this will help you out in the future.

Risk management isn’t an easy task and it’s natural to feel unsure on how to go about it. The best thing you can do is implement a PM tool that will help you with the process. ITM Platform provides their users with a new and innovative tool to help with calculating and managing project risks. Furthermore, their friendly and supportive staff has your back every step of the way so you’ll have no need to worry.

Visit to find more information.

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