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Project portfolio management solutions fall short

From the National Computing Centre, Manchester UK.

18th June 2010

Project portfolio management (PPM) solutions - including traditional project management tools and professional services automation (PSA) software – are still falling short of fulfilling all the requirements of many of their users. This is according to new research from the National Computing Centre (NCC), by its Evaluation Centre service (

Organisations have experienced mixed reactions in deploying PPM tools, with 5% of survey respondents seeing them as ‘not very effective’ and 21% as having ‘little effectiveness’, while 32% say they are only ‘moderately effective’. At the other end of the scale 8% rate them as ‘very effective’ and 29% as ‘effective’.

One of the problems identified is in providing a consolidated view of resource requirements across all projects, allowing users to identify any potential conflicts or bottlenecks. Over half the respondents (51%) say their current software fails to provide this capability, compared to 38% who can do this. This must leave many companies struggling with the effective allocation of resources across projects.

Similarly, managing a portfolio of inter-dependent projects is also problematic. Most organisations’ software struggles to provide this capability, with 38% finding it ‘very difficult’ and 30% ‘difficult’ to achieve. A few (2%) find it is ‘very easy’ and 6% ‘easy’.

Steve Fox, National Computing Centre Managing Director, commented: “Organisations need to ensure that their project portfolio management solutions are fit for purpose, otherwise they are reducing the effectiveness of their operations and putting their business at risk.”

There are a number of perceived barriers to adopting PPM software. The principal ones are that employees are reluctant to change from their existing software (49%) and that the cost and difficulty of implementing a new solution is too high (46%). Not far behind is the need to convince senior management of the benefits of adopting new or improved software (44%).

Given these constraints it is not surprising that 39% of respondents experience difficulty in developing a business case for purchasing PPM software.

In nearly all cases, the prime reason for using PPM software is to improve the visibility and awareness of projects throughout the organisation, mentioned by 86% of respondents. This is followed by the need to identify and make more effective use of available resources (75%), and the need to ensure the project is on track and reduce the risk of missing key milestones (61%).

There is a clear move towards using web-based PPM solutions, with 45% taking this route compared to 19% who express a preference for standalone solutions.

Access to project information from mobile devices is also improving, with 20% of companies providing remote or mobile access to PPM solutions and a further 17% planning to offer this facility.


About The National Computing Centre (NCC)
The National Computing Centre (NCC) is an independent organisation that helps IT decision makers to deliver effective solutions to business problems by bringing together users, experts and vendors to share experiences and develop best practices.

About the Evaluation Centre
The Evaluation Centre is an interactive service for end users and consultants to assist them in the procurement process for software, services and technology.


This year’s survey into the use of project management and PSA software covered over 100 organisations. The companies vary in size, with 9% having in excess of £5 billion turnover, 15% in the £1 billion to £5 billion bracket and 12% in the £500 million to £1 billion range. In the mid-market 43% have a turnover of between £100 million and £500 million and 8% £50 million to £100 million. At the smaller end, 10% have a turnover of between £10 million and £50 million and 3% £5 million to £10 million.

The largest group of respondents are from the public sector (20%) with other significant sectors being banking & finance (12%), manufacturing (11%), business services (10%), and construction (9%).

The survey is available from



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