Name: Project Portfolio Office
Vendor: Project Portfolio Office
Hosting options available only
Cost and plans: You can add up to 10 users for $49 per month (PS32). No cost trial.
Currency: You can add your currency symbol here
Building projects: Basic features
After I registered, it was almost impossible to log in to the software. Keep your login confirmation email in case you wish to try it. I couldn’t find any place on the website where I could log in to my trial instance.
Once you log in, it will ask you to change the password. It took me four attempts to find the right password and enter it without getting an error. But you might have more luck.
The sample project file is very practical. It shows you how to set up PPO in your company. However, the task descriptions are spelled incorrectly. This is unacceptable considering that the company is headquartered both in London and South Africa, places where English speakers are easily accessible to review this stuff.
Once I was logged in, it was easy to click Add Project to create another project. You must enter information about the project when you create it. One of those details is the project stage. You have the option of choosing from Justification, Initiation or Planning, Execution and Closure, as well as Benefits Realization. These can be configured in the administration menu as a custom listing. These steps are great if your project lifecycle follows them. However, you can add new stages if it doesn’t. However, I couldn’t find a way to delete a stage. You must delete the entire list and start over.
I had trouble adding tasks. After trying for hours (and using the online assistance which was OK), I believe you need to import your tasks from Microsoft Project and Excel before any appear. After that, you can add tasks to your base file without needing to go back. Instead of creating my own task list from Excel, I used one of these sample projects.
You can add milestones just like tasks and then give them a Type or’milestone’. You can give them a different start and end date. I made my milestone two days long. The milestone marker in the form of a diamond appears on the Gantt chart against the first day. (This screenshot doesn’t show it).
You can click on the task or milestone name in the Gantt chart to drill right down to find out more about that activity.
Project Portfolio Office’s Gantt chart. Click on the task name to view more information. If you add a baseline date, PPO baselines each task and shows variance against the baseline. You can only have one baseline. To activate the baseline functionality for your project, you will need to log a request with PPO Support.
Although I couldn’t find any evidence to support this, PPO doesn’t seem to be a tool that project managers use to schedule tasks. It is intended to allow them to capture data about their project and use it to do so. It does not replace the need to create a task schedule in another program. PPO’s power lies in its portfolio reporting and the ability to show a whole company’s worth project information in one place.
Dashboards and reports
The reporting and dashboard options are excellent. They are only as good and accurate as the data that you input, but they are visually appealing and easy to understand.
The dashboard for project managers is excellent. It provides summary information about the project as well as colour-coded indicators of progress, costs, risks and scope. These indicate the current and past Red/Amber/Green statuses, which can be used to identify movement. The dashboard provides details about the current open risks, issues and scope changes as well as a summary of costs. It also includes a task list, with clear progress variance.
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