CA Clarity PPM Review

Helps us predict resource capacity but the user interface could be better


What is our primary use case?

Within my company, resource capacity management. That's the PMO's goal for it at this time. Hopefully in the future we will manage portfolios in addition to using it as a prime entry system.

Some people are not used to managing through the tool, but as far as the tool goes, it works very well.

How has it helped my organization?

With that goal of gathering time from resources, and being able to predict out whether or not they'll have some capacity, it's a great improvement over what was there before, which was essentially an embedded spreadsheet within a SharePoint sight.

In addition, the reporting tools are superior to what was there before, which was someone crunching through an Excel spreadsheet. I've been able to do status reports through the projects, which has given visibility to my manager, and that's an improvement.

It has improved communication vertically, with some amount of data to be able to show that more resources are necessary, or why projects aren't moving as fast as management would like. That sort of communication makes my job a lot easier.

What is most valuable?

Within my environment, being able to give status reports to my manager is very useful, saves me a lot of trouble. 

I enjoy the Risks/Issues section. I wish that they were combined into the same module. I use that to raise things before they happen. 

I do appreciate the report that shows how utilized a person is set to be within the coming months. I use that feature a good bit.

What needs improvement?

The only real improvement from my side - I'm spoiled by things like Trello, with the very easy user interface, things like Basecamp - it's very much a static software project. If I was to focus on something it would be that user interface; making that something that is a joy to use, instead of something that feels like data entry.

If there was more drag and drop type functionality that would be fun, but it works well for what it's supposed to do.

The second thing - and this is specific to our company - integrate it with CA Service Desk Manager so that, when you have time for a ticket or when someone gets assigned a ticket, in PPM it automatically shows that they have to account for that: they would both enter time in the past and, also, that this is going to take them time in the future.

As far as a tool that communicates with resources, with individuals - what they're supposed to do next or what action items came out of what meeting - it's not really used that way. Probably I could envision a way that it would be used that way. Until it's as easy as sending an email, it probably won't be utilized by the resources in that manner.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We host internally, so it's not like it goes down. I haven't seen a ton of bugs. I bug-tested the heck out of it when they initially deployed it and got some things fixed, but they also had some custom code.

We use Service Desk Manager as well. We have a custom tool to integrate the two. One of the reasons why PPM was chosen was because, "Well, it must integrate with SDM, because they're the same company." But that was not the case. So, they got a custom tool in. Whenever something happens with PPM, where there's an update or anything like that, it breaks that tool. That's probably not tenable. That's not really my area, I didn't manage the deployment, but I could imagine that that's eventually going to be a problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I imagine that the scalability is there. The problem is, at this time, my company is only looking to give IT workers and project managers access to the tool, and they're trying to get buy-in to expand beyond that hundred-person group.

It has to be able to support a greater amount, and I imagine that the value would be there, but they haven't gotten to that point yet.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support. I haven't had any technical problems.

Which solutions did we use previously?

It's better than an Excel spreadsheet, and that's what was used before.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

They brought me in to comment on it's Agile functionality and they said, "We have this Rally product." And I said, "Does that integrate?" They said, "It could." I said, "Don't worry about it."

I use Trello today, I used JIRA, I used Team Foundation Server. I talked to some people here at the CA World conference and I said, "Are any of those tools worse or better than Rally?" They seemed to like those tools more. I haven't used Rally to tell you the truth.

What other advice do I have?

Regarding the new UX, at this point I feel like there could be more done to make it a more fluid experience. Five years ago, seven years ago, that sort of windows and records click was standard, and there wasn't much else out there that was better. Nowadays, things are, across software packages, just a little bit more fluid.

Is that a bad thing that it's like that? No, it's just that's where they could go next.

Our most important criteria when selecting a vendor are, first, that they meet the requirements that we set ahead of time. Second, that they are willing to answer those questionnaires. If they're not, then it's my opinion that they are not ready for prime time and we wouldn't even talk to them. And suitability, that's above everything else; that's above costs, that's above relationships, or how well known they are.

I would advise a colleague to look at the nature of the work they are trying to do, and what is the end goal they are trying to achieve. If your end goal is to ultimately get to the point where you can report up, then it might be a very good product to look into. If your end goal is either greater communication with your team, downward, or being able to have a clear idea across the organization of what needs to be done in a project, maybe look at another tool.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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