CA Clarity PPM Review

Flexibility is the most significant feature that we take advantage of.

Video Review:

What is most valuable?

Flexibility is probably the most significant feature that we take advantage of. Being a large company with a lot of customized solutions, migrating from our legacy applications into PPM obviously has been a major challenge. The flexibility of PPM, our ability to customize it and configure it to our needs has been a big selling point of the tool.

How has it helped my organization?

Probably the biggest reason for going with SaaS is the thin footprint. Obviously, not having to engage our internal resources to basically support the infrastructure for PPM was a big selling point. The ability to essentially upgrade without a lot of involvement from our staff was another big selling point for us. Obviously, the vision is essentially to have transparent upgrades for the tool with minimal effort on our side. Certainly, going with the SaaS solution has allowed us to basically upgrade the application in a matter of weeks rather than spending months planning for the upgrade.

The major benefit is, with our legacy applications, right now, we have approximately 600 IT projects, spanning 12 different portfolios. In our old world, we had essentially a number of different solutions supporting the 600 projects and 12 portfolios. The vision that PPM has allowed us to take advantage of is, now, we have consolidated all our portfolios and projects under one tool, instead of a multitude of solutions.

This solution has helped align our overall IT and business strategy because we all now talk the same language, if you will. In the past, with everybody having their own spreadsheet-based solution, when you essentially try to talk about project status, you really had to understand what their solutions were for managing their portfolios and their projects. By having everything consolidated under PPM, now everybody has a unified way of looking into their projects. When you talk about what's red, yellow and green for your project status, it isn't essentially this grab bag of, “Well, that depends on how you measure it.” We're all now being measured by the same tool, being PPM. When we talk about our status being red, yellow or green, we all know exactly what that means because, essentially, it's all PPM speak and not essentially some homegrown solution supporting the various portfolios.

What needs improvement?

We're really looking forward to the integration of Agile Central into PPM. Obviously, we now have a solution that services the needs of our project managers and our portfolio directors. Being able to integrate Agile Central into our solution base here, obviously allows us to extend the reach of PPM from the project management and portfolio managers all the way down to the actual development teams. Obviously, bringing everybody under a consolidated umbrella will help unify the beginning-to-end lifecycle of our projects.

The big improvement for us would be timesheet management. We have a legacy timesheet management solution that we're moving off of into PPM. It goes down to the activity level for the recording of time. In the current PPM solution, while they handle the reporting of time to the individual task and your project plans really nicely, breaking it down to the individual activity level such as requirements, design, different support activities, the tool doesn't necessarily play in that space really nicely. Certainly, we'd like to see them do a little bit more with regards to taking that time recording down to a lower level of detail. Of course, for us it's all about analytics and, of course, project management thrives on analytics.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. We have not had a single issue with the SaaS solution for PPM since we've been on board. We came on board live in production about a year ago. We have not experienced a single outage with SaaS solutions since we've gone live. Obviously, knock on wood, we understand that, in the IT world, downtime is a fact of the way things work but, as of a year in production, we have yet to encounter an outage that has impacted our user base.

How is customer service and technical support?

Indeed, we have used technical support, more so from a development perspective, though, not from, obviously, an issue with a production outage or issues with our production environment. Being that we're looking to configure the tool in different ways to satisfy the needs of our various portfolios, we've actually had some conversations with CA support to help us understand how we can essentially move from the vanilla PPM to something that obviously suits the needs of our business. They've been very responsive with regards to answering our questions on how exactly we can move from today's world to what we need to do in the future.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We had a plethora of solutions and, of course, they all did things a little bit differently. When we tried to take a look at the overall portfolio of all our IT projects, there was really nothing to unify everybody under one common solution. Essentially, if you talk to one portfolio, they manage things in a certain way. A different portfolio would do it completely different. Of course, when you tried to look at the overall IT budget, it got to be a very complex solution. Of course, if you try to take a holistic look – you have resources and projects, and you have your planned budgets – nothing was under the same umbrella. It was a hodge-podge, and a lot of manual time and effort went into basically having just a simple conversation on, "Hey. What do we want to do next year?"

Bringing everything into PPM, now, the conversation’s about what we want to do next year and the whole what-if scenarios that come out with regards to, "Hey, what if we do this? What if we do that?" Instead of taking weeks and months to have those discussions, we can now have them in real-time, right here and right now.

How was the initial setup?

We actually employed an implementation partner. With PPM, there are a lot of consulting firms that specialize in PPM implementations. We actually picked an implementation partner who helped us through the various questions and considerations to evaluate before we went live.

Certainly, doing it ourselves would have been a little intimidating, but with the help and assistance of CA services and the implementation partner, actually, the migration from our legacy solutions to now a PPM-based solution has been relatively painless.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did have five other vendors on our shortlist. We did take an exhaustive look at all five of them. In the end, it really came down to CA PPM’s flexibility and the ability for it to basically configure itself to meet the needs of our organization and its ability to be a SaaS solution rather than an on-premise solution. Certainly, we're looking to have a unified solution that we can essentially standardize the company but still configure it so that it's specific to our needs, and yet, obviously, have it hosted at an external site, where we don’t have to necessarily spend the time and energy to make it happen.

What other advice do I have?

I definitely recommend going to CA World and talking to all the other companies that have implemented PPM solutions to see how they did it. One thing we definitely learned at a previous CA World, when we were doing our evaluation of PPM, everyone we spoke to had accolades about how they love the tool and what they are doing with it. Of course, when you hear all the stories of how they basically move from their legacy solutions to a PPM-based solution, you quickly realize that it can do everything you need to do, more and more.

It's definitely met and exceeded all our expectations with regards to the tool. We knew we'd have to make some concessions with the tool. Obviously, if you're moving from your completely customized solution to one that's more of a package-based solution, we figured we’d have to give up on some things with regards to our process, but we found with PPM, it's so flexible and so configurable that everything that we had customized for the homegrown solutions, we were able to actually port it directly into PPM. Now, essentially, we've got a standardized solution across our whole entire organization that still has all the benefits of our homegrown solutions that we had in the past.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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