Why going ‘best of breed’ for PPM is a boutique hotel experience

Over the coming year, spending on IT – software, infrastructure and digital transformation projects - is expected to hit US$ 3.8 trillion. Based on 2018 forecasts issued by Gartner, that’s a healthy rise of 3.2% and means a vast number of software evaluations will take place.

Given that only 20% of organisations are currently using Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) software, it’s inevitable that a sizeable number of those evaluations will include reviewing what is on offer from vendors specialising in PPM solutions. What should organisations going into 2019 with a wish list of new investments do, in order to narrow down their prospective options.

Questions to shape the software evaluation process

Before drawing up a shortlist of potential software vendors to evaluate, first consider two basic questions. Do you want to identify the best and most innovative technology to solve your business challenges? Or do you intend to ‘play it safe’ and see if an existing software supplier has a ‘module’ that could bolt onto an existing system and ‘do the job’?

Although buying everything from an existing ‘super vendor’ is always a ‘safe bet’, it’s the equivalent of taking your family on a beach club package holiday. You know pretty much that the trip will be adequate and everyone will have a decent break, but that’s it. It’s average. On the other hand, a week at a boutique hotel could be an experience that significantly changes your perspective on life.

This latter option, the boutique hotel experience, is more akin to what vendors developing ‘best of breed’ specialist solutions can offer to organisations. Continuous innovation, technical excellence and the desire to go the extra mile for their customers. Contrast this with the average beach club break, it will have a few good features and be pretty OK, but that’s all. Where is the return on investment?

Advanced features as standard

If your organisation already has an ERP or enterprise financial system in place from a single vendor, why not look beyond your current exposure to their product portfolio. If you are still using spreadsheets in the PMO (80% of companies are), adopting a best of breed PPM system, as opposed to a big solution bolt on, could offer some advanced features as standard.

For instance, some of the features that Gartner is predicting will only start to emerge in the coming 2 to 5 years are already available as standard in the current version of ProjectObjects. These include Agile Project Management and Integrated IT Portfolio Analysis. Very soon, the solution will also incorporate mobile device and voice activation support, plus offer AI capabilities - much more rapidly than the timeframe suggested by Gartner.

Good citizens in the software ecosystem

When evaluating the really innovative companies in the sector as alternatives to the mainstream, it’s important establish whether they are ‘good citizens’ in the technology ecosystem sense. Can the specialist PPM solution integrate well with your enterprise systems? Is the integration bi-directional?

Having a seamless integration with other systems, as available with ProjectObjects, will minimise the level of data input required, because information can be shared instantly between products from different vendors, for instance, SAP, Jira, SalesForce or Oracle. This not only automates as many routine tasks as possible but also ensures that the PMO can provide fully up to date information to senior leadership at all times.

There are developers with a counter argument to this, who will recommend buying from a single source because everything is integrated anyway, but from experience that isn’t always true. Many of the ‘big solution’ vendors have what they describe as best of breed tools, but that doesn’t mean they can integrate easily with existing software solutions. By focusing on software companies that are ‘good citizens’ with bi-directional integration, the returns from all these systems combined together can become synergetic, resulting in a return on investment that is greater than achievable with the individual components.

So, whilst it may be tempting to see what an existing vendor has to offer - and some are very innovative - many are not. Given that solutions are now so advanced and application integration capabilities so seamless, it may be time to evaluate a boutique PPM offering like ProjectObjects and get the best of all worlds.


Dr Sakis Prassas is a Business Development Executive at Project Objects