Planview PPM Pro Review

We can have time entries, projects, reports, and the portfolio all in one system

What is our primary use case?

PPM Pro started out being just an IT application. Within the IT PMO, we needed a way to track our portfolio. We had spreadsheets with project data on them and it was cumbersome. Being able to get some portfolio analytics was important to us, and then our project managers were using all different kinds of tools. They were using MS Project, Excel, and all good stuff, but the templates and everything was all over the place. I liked PPM Pro because we could essentially build out the forms, the fields, and everything to mirror a project charter. The risk and issues log was already in there.

Instead of having to use a bunch of tools, we're able to do a whole lot of it, especially the budget management in PPM Pro. The biggest thing for us was the timesheets because we had a time tracking system that was terrible, it was expensive, and it didn't connect to anything else. Now we've got the time entries, the projects, the reports, and the portfolio all in one system and we liked it so much that the business side decided they wanted to participate as well so it's now the project tool for the entire organization.

How has it helped my organization?

We're new, so the goal is for standardization. We want Planview to help us be more consistent across the different themes. We've got several different project management teams embedded within certain parts of the business. By building out Planview, we've been able to standardize within the portfolio world, it's made my life a whole lot easier. I'm not backing everything on spreadsheets and running reports and things. It has reduced a lot of the administrative overhead for us because we do have these external contractors and by granting them access to Planview, they can now go in and do all the stuff themselves instead of having to rely on us. It's saving us a ton of money on licenses too. It's been good so far and I think it's going to get better.

PPM Pro has enabled us to track more in the system than the old system. Just by having Planview and making it so accessible to people in the organization, we're finding that more requests are being submitted and tracked versus people just doing it on their personal desktops and stuff. Previously, things weren't being tracked. 

What is most valuable?

The dashboards are one of the most valuable aspects of this solution, although, we've only developed a few that anyone's using. There is more maturity there and, of course, we're a month and a half into this, but getting our executive leadership to see these things is half the battle. I think dashboards are going to be critical. 

We're also very interested in finances, with linking Plan B with Hyperion. The plan is to investigate that a little more. The fact that it's scalable was critical for us in our decisions. We weren't quite sure what we would need three years from now, but Planview has so many different applications that we figured we'd have a pretty good shot with it, so that's the plan.

In terms of the time tracking abilities, my company has been about 90% outsourced for all IT resources, which in today's world is not recommended, but we have these people all over the place and all over the world, trying to track their time on projects. As we are gradually bringing our IT back in-house, we need vendors to be able to track their time. We need our local contractors to be able to bill their time. We're starting to get a better picture of what's actually being spent on what.

We took a simple route with time tracking. We have what we call homerooms, it's where one could bill all of their non-project time. So we're able to get a full picture of what our contractors are doing and we get an invoice from their company. The IT accounts payable, who also reports to me, is able to reconcile those invoices against actual time entries in Planview. It's been very helpful.

PPM Pro has enabled us to create reusable project templates that reflect our project management lifecycle. We've created five or six of them which is helpful, not only for our PMs but also for our finance team because some tasks can be capitalized, and tracking CAPEX is very important for us. It's in the templates so then the PMs don't have to try and guess what's a CAPEX task or an OPEX task, it's already in there. That's been very important.

It takes around two minutes to create a new project. In our old system, we didn't really have projects so getting the project in the system was the biggest hurdle for us with the old system. With PPM Pro, the request goes in, and then you just copy and paste everything over to a project. It's just taking the basic request data and then turning it into a project. It is very, very easy in PPM Pro.

The process of building a team within a project makes sense to me, but I've been doing this for a long time. Some of our PMs are getting tripped up in the difference between the staffing section, the team section, and the task section and which one of those does what. We've spent a couple of weeks now trying to explain that if you add the person to the staffing section, it gives you demand, and if you add them to a task, then they can enter a timesheet. Getting the initial team set up is a little cumbersome, but once it's up, then everything just flows really smoothly.

In terms of its test management features, PPM Pro is a lot like other tools. There isn't really anything with the tasks that stands out as being spectacular. You can import tasks from MS Project, but you can also do that in other solutions as well. It's nice and some of those things are convenient but nothing really jumps out as a great feature within that section.

I liked what I saw for viewing projects and timelines from the demos. I think it's pretty great. We don't have enough data in ours yet to get any good views on things but I liked the Gantt button where you can toggle that on and off to get the view right in the system. I have a little more work to do as far as viewing timelines and things in the reports. I've got a few basic ones set up, but after watching the reports and data dashboards, I know that's going to look a lot better, especially after we get some data in our system, but it's pretty standard and straightforward.

PPM Pro provides managers the insight they need to empower decision-making.

What needs improvement?

From a usability standpoint, the part where there are people on the tasks section on a team is a little challenging. Then for some reason, the in-demand reports are embedded in the resource section and to run them is just completely different and separate from the reports entity which is a lot. When we did our setup with the implementation manager, he said, "Well, that's just legacy but you can create the same thing over in reports". And so far I haven't been able to figure that out. I would like to see capacity demand reports, right up front in all of the report's sections. As far as accessibility, changing passwords, and people being able to get to mobile devices and all that stuff, that's just been phenomenal.

For how long have I used the solution?

We got our licenses back in March but we did the implementation and a rollout across the organization, so the main body of people who use it started using it on August 3rd. We are brand new.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I haven't seen any glitches at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's being used broadly across the company and I think we will continue to need to work on the adoption of it from some of our senior directors and VPs. We need to build out the parts that they can see, like reports and dashboards, and make it useful for them.

How are customer service and technical support?

I submitted several tickets and support was very prompt and very responsive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use Teams across the entire company, SharePoint, Project, Word, Excel, and a lot of us use Visio. They are pretty integrated. We run on Office 365, so once you get that license, you have access to all.

Microsoft is definitely not a project solution. Planview is much more consolidated and everything talks to each other. I was listening to them talk about single sign-on, everything for Planview products, and I know we've got access to Projectplace and LeanKit, but we never really set those up. I'm still not really clear on how those all work together, but at some point, I will spend the time to do that.

I came to the realization that I needed a tool like this the first week that I came to work at my company and realized I was going to have to manage a portfolio on a spreadsheet. That's when I knew.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. We got tripped up in some weird cycle between being able to attend some formal Planview training and being able to go to implementation workshops. For whatever reason, they would only allow two people from my company to attend Planview, and there are six of us admins. I had to forego my training to let my employee go because she needed it more than I did, but then I ended up being the one who set up the entire system on our side, and for what we paid for the implementation, I really thought Planview would have done more to help us. I was learning on the fly while building it and Planview was pushing us through these workshops and it was hard. I think it was harder than it should've been.

We started early April and rolled it out on August 3rd but we're still missing pieces and parts of it. We never got Projectplace. We never talked about LeanKit, it was too much. There was too much that needed to be done, and I'm not a technical person. I've been a project manager my whole life so I understood that I was building what a project manager would want in the system. But from a technical standpoint, like uploading data and importing data in it from our old system and all that stuff, it was very painful just because I had no idea what I was doing. I think we could prep staff better on our side if we had known that this was going to be so much work.

I built it, so I made a bunch of the decisions on the configuration like what the lookup list would be, what all the templates were going to look like, and all that. I had a project coordinator who really didn't help much at all, and then I had my peer on the business side who got into it, but she kind of struggled with some of the data too.

For management, we've got one lady on the business side and then two of us on the IT side, but we have 40 full users. The adoption of it has been great. We also have two people on the external side that are not admins but they're full users and we have to work pretty closely with them. So, altogether it's five of us.

Across the organization, there are 40 full users, 50 stakeholders, 300 time-users plus 50 users. We will definitely need more full users and stakeholders. So I would expect it to grow to probably 60 full users and 100 stakeholders here pretty soon.

What was our ROI?

PPM Pro is saving us around $7,000 a month.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing was fair and I thought it was comparable to the other ones that we looked at. Other than ServiceNow, it was the most expensive, but we knew we were going to get a lot of value for it, so we went with it.

We paid $40,000 for the implementation and for the workshops.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Planisware, CA Technologies, Upland, and ServiceNow. Planview was a perfect mix of usability and sophistication or rigor. It would be challenging for us, but it would still be easy enough to use and give us the data that we needed. I chose it because of the way it was sized and priced.

It's very comparable to ServiceNow but ServiceNow doesn't offer the training, resources, and materials, so you have to figure it out as you go. Planview has an extensive learning library, presentations and conferences, and things that we can do. Resources, I would say, are just as huge for us.

What other advice do I have?

I would have changed the project team that implemented this and I would have found someone much more technical if I had known that Planview wasn't going to do it. I'd probably try to find somebody who knows more about reports and dashboards because that's where the real bread and butter of it is. Right now we're getting by with some reports. Having that resource, which we just don't have right now, would have been helpful for us to really knock it out of the park when we went live with it.

My advice would be to find someone technical to build it and then I would rearrange some of the implementation workshops. It felt like we did things out of order a little bit with going to admin training and setting them up. I'd want them to do a much more thorough assessment instead of relying on Planview to tell us how it was going to go. The way that they said it was going to go and the way that it went was completely different. I think having somebody that maybe had been through an implementation like this before on the team would have been helpful. 

I would rate Planview PPM Pro a nine out of ten. It's good for now. It's the right stuff for us for the next three years. We may evolve and grow into something bigger, but right now I think we're in a good spot and it's been deemed a success and a successful project so far by our leadership. 

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