Planview PPM Pro Review

Has taught us to collect better data and the benefits of having good data

What is our primary use case?

I'm with the Wake County government and PPM Pro is our project portfolio and application portfolio management tool that is used enterprise-wide throughout the County.

How has it helped my organization?

Wake County government recently received a second place in the Center for Digital Government award. A lot of the information that was provided during the application process was an easy export from our system. We were able to provide lots of very valuable and invaluable data with a couple of clicks.

PPM Pro provides our managers with the insights they need to empower decision-making. I don't think it's utilized enough. We make the information available and give access to those that need it. They've seen the benefit of the system. But I don't think it's utilized to its capabilities.

It has also helped us to reduce project delays by 50%. A little over a year ago, we implemented a new process for us whereby we no longer change dates within the system. We put in more processes in place for baseline tracking and held project managers and teams accountable. We've seen more accurate estimating and projects when they do miss their deadlines, we have substantiated reasoning behind that.

We're staying at an even rate with the number of projects. The projects that we do are based on the board of commissioners, elected officials, and revenues within the County. When revenues are down, the number of projects are down. So, we can't really put the two together like a private industry would.

What is most valuable?

Just about everything about the solution is valuable. I can't pinpoint one specific thing. The tool has helped us mature as an agency, has taught us to collect better data and the benefits of having good data.

It enables us to create reusable project templates that reflect our project management lifecycle. We utilize many different types of templates from intake forms to review processes, to standard status reporting. There are very different use cases. It's streamlined the project management process. My group is not an official PMO. We're referred to as solutions development. We are the project managers and business analysts for the organization and so, it has helped us to understand the work where it's coming from and how to organize it. It also makes the necessary information available to our higher-ups within the organization.

It only takes a few minutes, depending on availability, to create a new project. We use a standardized template to collect the information. The project request initiator fills out a short form through automation within the system and the approvers are notified. They go through the process of determining whether the project will be added to the portfolio or not. And if it's approved through workflow automation, the requester is notified. It gets added to a series of reports which get updated on a weekly and monthly basis.

It's always been an easy process to build a team within a project. The users are familiar with the system. It's not like we have to do training every time a new project is spun up. It's pretty intuitive. There is not a lot of hand-holding necessary. The tool gives us what we need and we get what we need out of it.

The task management features are very robust within the system and the other platforms like Projectplace, for example, offer more variety for task tracking and task responsibility and so forth. We don't really utilize the system from that perspective for tracking at the PPM Pro level. We use that more as high-level portfolio management.

It's very good for viewing projects and timelines. The reporting is getting better. It was good before but now, with all of the new improvements to reporting and dashboards, it's improved quite a bit.

What needs improvement?

Integrations need improvement. We have the ability now with the FLEX licensing to take advantage of the different applications. But if you want them integrated there's a really large cost associated with that. The integration should be included in the cost per license. We shouldn't have to pay these really high fees to get the systems to talk together.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been with Planview before it was Planview so we were actually originally Innotas customers. We originally implemented in 2015.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. We've had less than a handful of issues over the years with the system, as far as uptime. Whenever we've run into a problem, customer support has always been right there for us.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I definitely believe that it's scalable. Just listening to where they're going and their ideation is exciting. 

We have 53 licensed users currently and they range from a project manager to system administrators, to stakeholders and senior-level management.

There is a staff of two for the deployment and maintenance: myself and one other. We are portfolio managers.

PPM Pro is primarily utilized in the IT department but we do have representation in most of the departments, not all of the departments. There is at least one licensed user per department.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is on top of things. They really know the system and we've stumped them a few times over the years. It's taken a little bit of time for them to research things and get back to us. But for the most part, we feel like we're given adequate support.

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

I have used other Microsoft solutions. I don't think they're on the same playing level. I see Microsoft Project as a heavy tool when it comes to project management. I think Planner has similar features to Projectplace and it's the same thing with Teams. Teams has the functionality for the cross-collaboration and they integrate seamlessly because they're all Microsoft tools. With Microsoft, you have one license and you're integrated with all of those things. You don't have to pay a fee to integrate one tool to the next. It would be nice if Planview did the same thing.

I don't think we could do what we do with Planview with Microsoft. We've tried. Planview has more functionality within one application than multiple applications in the Microsoft world. You can do everything in one place, which is a benefit for us, speaking from our experience, not having to go from Excel to SharePoint, to Planner, to Project. Having to do all these functions in different applications rather than having it all in one place is the key benefit.

How was the initial setup?

We started out when it was Innotas and I would say that the setup was very complex because we built the system from the ground up. It wasn't what it's like today. We've heard from newer customers that it's a lot easier today than it was before. When the company was switched, it was like relearning it all over again. We implemented a system and then we had to relearn it 14 months later.

The deployment was started in November and we were live in February so it took about four months.

Our deployment strategy was to take baby steps. We bit off small increments. We started with creating the project portfolio and then, once we got that up and running, we focused on the application portfolio. 

What about the implementation team?

We didn't use a consultant for the deployment, we did it ourselves.

What was our ROI?

We've seen the benefit. We've put a lot of work and a lot of effort into cleaning up the data, maximizing the functionality and we've seen the benefit. Our executive management has seen the benefit. It would be easy to jump ship and go to another product but we have that background. We've made relationships with the company. We know everybody on a first-name basis. They support us and they're willing to work with us. The main reason why we stay is because we get that support and we feel cared for. The only area that I wish that we could come to a better understanding is with the pricing,

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

PPM Pro is pricey. We've been with the company for a long time and the main thing is that if you're a government agency like we are, funding is an issue. If we want to expand this on a larger scale, they really need to come up with a pricing model that will benefit us, as customers. We can't afford 200 licenses. We have to really think about how we expand when we purchase new licenses because of that price point. It's constantly increasing and we have to think about how we can expand it and roll it out to the enterprise on a yearly basis.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at Captivate, Adaptive, and Innotas. At the time we were very immature in the capability and maturity that Gartner put out there. That's where we started. Those tools were for very mature project and portfolio management offices. We were just beginning and we were looking for a tool that would grow with us. That's why we chose Innotas at the time because it gave us that flexibility. 

We had a homegrown tool in the past that crashed and burned. The reasoning behind that was due to the fact that the users were given too much upfront. It just became one more thing that they had to do. We took a different approach and said that we were going to do this step by step. We had the flexibility and it worked for us. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to take your time, learn it, and understand it. Know that what you put into it is what you're going to get out. Just like anything, you want to nurture it so that it grows, matures, and really shows the work.

For myself and my team, it has helped to foster our reputation for accuracy, for estimating, for being able to produce or anticipate what our management's needs are, and having that information there. It helped with being able to help project what things may look like with predictive analytics.

I would rate Planview PPM Pro a nine out of ten. 

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