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ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning systems) are the widest and most complex category of business software. As they are dedicated to all kinds of resources management, they must coexist with other business solutions which are more dedicated to business, such as PPM systems. In this article, we provide the keys regarding the limits of each tool and tips for a successful integration.

Sometimes, at ITM Platform we receive integration requests from some of our clients’ ERPs. In the following example, we explain what the coexistence rules are between a Project Portfolio Management system and an ERP.

Why ERP and PPM should coexist: a common story

A great ticketing agency hires a business controller to carry out an evaluation of the company’s internal processes. Its mission is to suggest improvements oriented to solving data discrepancy problems which currently exist between the finance department and commercial divisions. These matters are having important political repercussions because they affect sensitive issues such as the calculation of bonus at the end of the year.

From the first moment, the expert supposes that the problem is within the business software that the company is using. Or, in other words, within the incoordination between the different management tools that have been adopted in different areas of the company, in which the CIOs figure doesn’t exist.

An ERP with duplicated information is a bad ERP

Our business controller discovers that no one has taken the effort to define information flows between ERP (a kind of a feral version of SAP) and the company’s project portfolio management system. The consequence is that there are parallel processes with divergent results whose origin is difficult to estimate. Basically, the ERP doesn’t get to capture the complexity of a project’s cost structure in which there are cost estimates, real bills, calculated costs of internal and external hours, reported and accepted…

From that moment on, a decision is taken: PPM system, oriented to business generation, should be the entry point for all the information related to the organization’s projects, so that PPM project’s financial data “rules” over ERP and disagreements can be eliminated.

This example is typical within ERP integration and project management software. Generally, it is advisable to give autonomy to PPM system in order to support the projects’ activity solvency.

5 keys to ERP’s successful integration with a PPM system

Even though each company will have different use cases and specific necessities, there are some clear recommendations for the successful integration of ERP with a PPM system.

  1. Let each system do its job. Data integration must be limited to what it is strictly operative. it is not advisable to design an integration which turns out to be an even greater complexity. On the other hand, orient yourself by three basic goals: avoid work duplication, avoid data divergence and promote transparency.
  2. Share the necessary information. In a corporate environment, there cannot be black boxes. But we aware about the amount of information you share: when transparency is perfect, informative noise can be very loud with a very high productivity cost. That is why it is often advised not to send ERP more project data than the strictly necessary to carry out administrative and financial control tasks.
  3. Choose a flexible PPM. Many PPM systems only send aggregated information about project costs, hindering project costs allocation to different items. By contrast, ITM Platform can send information with the desired granularity thanks to its open API (see documentation).
  4. Don’t slave away your project managers by forcing them to adopt the projects’ module of you ERP. As you can see down below, the best way to integrate ERP and PPM is by letting ERP be in charge of the administration and PPM face all the complexity and the flexibility that a project demands.
  5. Encourage collaboration around projects and the standardization within ERP. Apart from data integration, every technological integration process must face human and change management components. Designed procedures must leave enough operating space for project experts, taking advantage of communication and team cooperation systems, which sets out the PPM solution. On the other hand, ERP usually keeps to much stricter, standardized and mandatory procedures.

What sections of a project are covered by ERP?

When analyzing information systems and data flows in which a business environment is based, it is essential to know in advance what the connected areas are and possible overlaps between different platforms.

There are 4 points in which ERP administrative control layer comes into contact with projects:

In all these areas, it is crucial to design automatic flows from the portfolio management system to the ERP, specifying in each case the needed granularity and not sending invalid data as, for example, the estimated cost of a task.

What can't an ERP do?

The perception of an ERP being a business management machine which serves for any kind of activity can be a very big strain for corporate projects’ health.

For example, here are 5 areas in which ERP does not meet operative standards required by a portfolio management software

  • Resources planning: even though ERP can calculate and manage resource payments, only PPM has the enough flexibility to plan the resources and to be adapted to delivered work as it is being produced.
  • Project methodology: PPM tools are designed to be configurable to project methodologies in almost every environment. In addition, its functional scope is, as in ITM Platform’s case, very ambitious, gathering in one place financial and efforts data, risk planning and management, business goals, documents, deliverables, etc.
  • Task management and access to team members: the work content is difficult to manage from an ERP as, generally, the number of project team members with access to the environment, as well as its collaborative characteristics, is limited.
  • Portfolio view: PPM systems have prearranged project and portfolio signs and metrics which give a real-time image of the projects’ advancements, apart from allowing to work with customized exportable reports. Obtaining a similar view from an ERP means a tremendous configuration effort and hundreds of consultancy hours, while with ITM Platform it is about a few weeks.

Keep on reading:

Benefits of connecting your CRM to your project management tool

Your bank’s mobile app would not exist without unified Project Portfolio Management

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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.


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
ITM Platform

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