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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abstract infographics with cubes and wired structuresYou don’t even need to be able to measure the value.

But imagine if you could.

Imagine that you could quantify the value that collaboration contributes to your projects. If you could add a few cents (or a few dollars) to your "collaborative balance" every time someone makes a constructive comment, warns of a problem in time, makes an innovative proposal outside the scope of their responsibilities, share experiences of other Projects that can save hours of misguided execution.


Try ITM Platform and start integrating PPM capabilities and powerful communication across projects.

You could show the results to top executives, including shareholders and customers, and defend the profitability of investing in strong internal communication policies.

In reality, you don’t need to measure the value at every instant. It is enough to make sure that in your organization there are solid channels for communication to flow. You may need more than one technological solution to support the entire flow. Oh, and remember that email stopped counting as collaborative technology back in 2006.

Collaborative tools

It is convenient to distinguish between channels for internal communication (within the team of each project) and external communication, or between projects.

Communication between projects

The business chat or intranet services are excellent for removing watertight drawers, but they live far from the technical planning of the projects, so they are difficult to integrate with the daily management of them. They are excellent for cross-cutting issues affecting all departments.

Internal communication

By contrast, internal communication to a project team will be better supported through management software such as ITM Platform, which integrates social networking features within each project.

Creating the Right Portfolio

No tool can communicate between projects and connect to the equipment of each project without generating noise. Therefore, it is essential to be able to find a good internal technology portfolio that maintains governance criteria.

The combination of ITM Platform with Slack is a great example of a portfolio of communication tools. Within each project, the owner is ITM Platform, while Slack is unbeatable as a business chat between teams. Thanks to the ITM Platform Teambot app, you can also connect both tools so that the members of your teams can work with the ITM Platform from Slack.

This way you can get all the benefits of a communication policy as well as improving the quality of your projects and learning between teams.

Do you still want to measure your ROI of collaboration? Subscribe to this blog and you will get the answer.

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two men speaking over web camera. sofa, chairOne of the great challenges facing CEOs is improving internal communication. The challenge of this type of policy is to proceed with communication without restricting it; Or, in other words, get the information that:

  • is sufficient but does not generate noise;
  • leave traces that allow recovery;
  • distributed in a differentiated way, without generating gaps.

The importance of internal communication policies is proportional to the size of the organization. However, finding this balance can be especially difficult if you do not have a team where members are accustomed to collaborative work. To reinforce this interconnection, it is necessary to engage its members with strategies that foster the pooling of their skills and allow them to evolve as part of a whole.

When working in project management, it is vital to strengthen communication channels among the members of the initiative. If we think of our team as a coordinated body, they all bring their inventiveness and talent to achieve a common result by assembling their different functions. However, in designing internal communication policies, different procedures and channels will have to be designed:

  • communication between the team of a project

  • communication between projects and teams other than the same organization(external)

While in the first case the communication tends to have a tactical dimension, because it is oriented to improve the quality of the project and the effectiveness of the execution, in the case of communication between projects can have a strategic dimension, oriented to generate synergies and create Shared knowledge that can raise the value of the organization and its capacity for innovation. It is at this point that the management of internal communication may require an expert to coordinate and direct it.

Perhaps a line of work is not as efficient as it may be because its resources are unlinked, that is: employees, technology and processes work in an uncoordinated way. An integrated vision of the tasks assigned to the team members, allows the manager to guide the goals of each one and propose synergies aimed at encouraging reciprocal learning.

Here are some factors that you should take into account to improve the collaboration in your projects and we present the definitive tool to optimize the communications between the members of your team.

Synchronize your computer

A good internal communication plan allows the company that deploys it to save resources and avoid deviations in cost planning. This is because errors have a greater monitoring by all the collaborators, so that corrections not only come from the management of the project, but are generated once they are publicly shared. The added value of promoting self-help among peers increases the sense of authorship that the employee professes towards the object of his work.

Likewise, a project manager who relies on the values ​​of cooperation and emphasizes the role of collective work will be able to propose more agile solutions, since it will have real-time information on the specific availability of each member, and scope of specialization. It can also use the creation of subgroups that, because of the special affinity of their members, are able to solve problems that another conjugation of employees would be unable to address.

Mission impossible without the right tools

Improving the relationships between the different segments that make up a human team can be supported by software that integrates their tasks, documentary contributions and specific annotations into a single conversion platform. Relying on these types of applications often means that project coordinators have a greater capacity to intervene on the overall stage, since they have a global perspective on all operations.

Slack is a great example of business communication that manages to retain the user, retrieve shared information more easily than email, and add features through apps. There are many reasons why you should start using Slack in your office.

For example, the ITM Platform Teambot application allows you to use ITM Platform from Slack, query tasks and projects and navigate to the planning environment without having the Slack chat.

If you are not an ITM Platform customer, you can now try Teambot with a free environment from this trial:

Little by little

It often happens that employees perceive these types of measures as restrictive, since they involve the obligatory adaptation of all those affected to be implemented. However, once that initial phase of mistrust in the new protocols is overcome, they themselves discover the advantages of working with project management tools.

One of the most common points of friction between employees and a new working methodology is related to the learning challenges involved in using an unknown platform. In this sense, ITM Platform Teambot relies on the leadership of the Slack network within the world of corporate messaging and leverages its infrastructure to offer a more intuitive work experience. Moving to an environment where the user feels comfortable reduces the general rejection associated with technical progress.

To counteract this proven trend that evokes the technological evolution in teams already formed, it is appropriate to devote the time that is necessary to show the benefits derived from working with state-of-the-art solutions. Creating a tutorial for all collaborators, starting a shared video conference presentation or disseminating a written manual, are initiatives that can reduce the step and increase the confidence of the staff in the new methodology.

As you have seen, many factors are involved in the definition of an internal communication plan. Therefore, we must spare no effort in enabling new channels of interaction that ensure corporate synergy and increase the degree of commitment of our employees or subordinates.

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business man shake hand puzzle background agreement concept flat vector illustration

Although collaboration is an essential principle for a modern and innovative organization, it is worth remembering that it is not recommendable to embrace collaboration at all costs. The definition of a collaborative culture will have to be oriented to different parameters specific to each organization.

Collaboration for PMOs: advantages and disadvantages

If you are convinced that your organization needs to improve project collaboration, you must make sure collaboration is properly oriented and directed towards the goals of the organization.

For example, collaboration is a priority in innovation intensive organizations dedicated to the design of new products and services: the more ideas are gained, the greater the innovative potential. In these cases it may be important to collect inputs from all interested parties and even to determine a iterative procedure, whereby each design phase is subject to an open round of discussions.

However, in organizations with more predictive projects, a culture of open and uncontrolled collaboration can be pernicious. Even destructive:

  • Hierarchical validation procedures are proportionately related to deadline compliance
  • Informal communication relies on people, not processes. That is why large organizations and teams with high turnover suffer especially when they fail to combine collaborative elements with standardized procedures.

1. Project Management

Despite the risks of open collaboration, the risks of not collaborating are also high. A project manager who does not delegate, share information, or accept comments beyond the established channels becomes a bottleneck that can choke the entire organization.

On the contrary, among the collaborative responsibilities of the project manager is the habit of sharing knowledge with all stakeholders: team members and executives, clients, suppliers, or public entities in the case of tenders.To avoid being lost in this web, it is very important from a certain complexity to determine what tools, documents and processes are right for each stage.

2. Project collaboration

​ Another advantage of a collaborative controlled culture is that team members can benefit from cross-pollinization. Again, this is a very important aspect when the project presents unknowns or new problems to solve.

Some practices to make ideas flow:

  • Use open spaces
  • Use equally open chat tools: instead of email, a chat service for channels such as Slack, for example
  • Adopt SaaS tools, so that your computer's hard drives do not become black boxes

3. How to combine closed communication and standardized procedures

Unfortunately, these days it is not enough to be productive and execute a list of tasks within a project. Actually, we have many applications based on a timeless distribution of activities or the check-list approach , which, although they are very valid for certain functions, do not serve for the execution and planning of professional projects. The most difficult in these cases is to get the right balance between collaboration and controlled information.

ITM Platform Teambot is an application for Slack that allows, precisely, to speed collaboration through the messaging chat that has taken a robot to Mars while incorporating the strengths of an ITM Platform capacity planning tool. Where Slack adds the collaborative dimension, ITM Platform adds the control.

In fact, ITM Platform Teambot, created for all team members, is the most convenient way to use ITM Platform:

  • It allows to recall tasks and projects
  • facilitates reporting processes
  • Links seamlessly to ITM Platform

Advantages of ITM Platform Teambot:

  • Teambot is the only project management application in Slack that, besides allowing to recall information, offers the possibility to use agile and predictive methodology in the same integrated portfolio
  • Share knowledge and cooperate with organizations that integrate different hierarchies or open teams
  • Check projects and tasks in seconds
  • Report your progress from Slack and without ever having to log in to ITM Platform

Request a demo of ITM Platform and we will tell you how to establish successful collaborative practices for your projects.

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ITM Platform has just released a brand new app for Slack focused on collaborative work management. With ITM Platform Teambot, ITM Platform users can:

  • Recall their projects and tasks
  • Report their hours
  • Report follow-ups in percentages
  • Add comments to tasks and projects

We really believe ITM Platform Teambot is an interesting case study on how to promote SaaS adoption with smart integrations targeted at improving the experience of our user base.


Enterprise software is the toughest of choices

One of the most common challenges for CTOs and enterprise technology owners lies in how to select a software vendor. Experience says technically great products do not necessarily perform better, while employees tend to stick to what they know.

I don’t think there’s an easy roadmap for choosing good software, nor even an adequate personality that solidly indicates a good decisor: the insightful CTO that evaluates dozens of options before selecting his technical champion can be exactly as wrong as the SME CEO that chooses a vendor based on his guts and contacts.

The secret is in the users

Very often, when a product doesn’t deliver what it promised the problem tends to lie in management, not in the technology: workers, workflows and technology are disconnected.

This is particularly important for project management solutions, that tend to have an asymmetrical use among different stakeholders: while project managers use the most advanced features, team members tend to be bugged down by boring and allegedly unnecessary reporting procedures that don’t add any value to their work. In that context, any friction will kill you. I can’t tell you a more common failure story in project management governance.

In other words: in a software-centric organization, you can’t escape treating your employees as users. The second step is to address user needs as that of internal customers: calculate software adoption as a major component of your technological ROI, as many experts are already doing:

  • 72% of CTOs consider adoption as the main driver for successful SaaS implementation (Sandhill)
  • 43% of CTOs recognize the threat of “shadow IT” and the use of non-validated software (Forrester)
  • 80% of users abandon enterprise mobile apps after a single use. (Boston technology)

So here’s our own experience for treating users as our major customers.

How to get your employees to use project management reporting tools

As any other SaaS company, at ITM Platform we know that if we rely solely on user’s good will for internal reporting purposes, any friction will disengage them. Neither we nor the company admins we work with want that to happen.

How ITM Platform Teambot solves the problem

  1. Go to where the user is

Instead of forcing the user to log into our system merely to report hours or progress, we have chosen to go where our users already are. In other words, we are choosing to support our standalone product with our own app for Slack, because we believe that it may turn into THE tool for enterprise communications and productivity.

  1. Make life easier

Once ITM Platform Teambot is authenticated, a team member will not need to enter into ITM Platform regularly: he or she will be empowered to execute all reporting actions directly from Slack.

By merely typing “/itmplatform list projects”, anybody can see what projects they have been assigned to on ITM Platform. The action takes abot 4 seconds and no browsing action.

What’s more, if you want to log in to ITM Platform to do more complex actions you can do so by merely clicking on the project or task names: they’re all functional hyperlinks!

  1. Productize user experience

The workaround that we have developed with ITM Platform Teambot has allowed us to productize user experience. In fact, what started as an improvement for our existing customers has become the most powerful project management app for Slack that we know of.

Visit Slack’s app directory to add ITM Platform Teambot now or request a demo to find out more on how to make ITM Platform work for your company!


Jaime González-Capitel
Senior Content Strategist
ITM Platform

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