Business has been getting smarter about using technology for analyzing processes and optimizing outcomes, but still has much room for improvement when it comes to operational management. Traditional project management has advanced to encompass financial and operational planning, including prioritization toward goals and expected outcomes, creating the concept of portfolio management. In essence, optimizing the use of people and processes associated with products and services along with supporting technology is what portfolio management is all about. Unfortunately, many organizations that use personal productivity tools do not realize that email, presentations and spreadsheets are not efficient or effective tools for these purposes compared to adopting applications designed for them.
One vendor we have been following over the last decade is Planview, which has released version 10.4 of its Planview Enterprise application suite. This release is more enterprise-ready due to a set of capabilities that improve access and usability in the applications and the use of analytics. I like the software’s integration with ideation and planning processes as the core of the overall approach.
At the center of Planview Enterprise is resource and project management. The latest version has many improvements in usability, from letting users switch from profiles and schedules to quick views of people and time allocated for utilization planning, showing how they function as part of a portfolio of projects. The ability to quickly create new products and integrate a range of images and links to video or other documents is part of the software’s portfolio management areas. It’s easy to assign projects to product life-cycle maps to help track existing projects and resources and to optimize the lifetime value of products while ensuring that critical activities and tasks are not forgotten.
Planview also has improved its analytics and the availability of information from within the application. New visualizations for product pipeline analytics can help users understand stages of products in the portfolio and their roles in reaching customer and financial objectives. IT administrators can see roadmaps and stages of value with the applications. Finance staff can see the costs and benefits of a portfolio of projects and products to determine where investments are contributing to value creation from products and services. They can also see where new investments and their dependencies are succeeding to determine prioritization. The portfolio analytics have become a critical component of the offering and justification for investments as they provide the knowledge on where to take action that can be defined within the application.
Many of the visual aspects of Planview’s planning and analytics process now can be presented within Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook, PowerPoint and SharePoint, as well as with collaborative technologies such as Yammer. Planview has also made it possible to more easily interact with its applications from within browsers such as Safari on an Apple iPad. On the extensibility front, Planview has integrated with IBM Rational products as a component of overall IT management with Rational Focal Point and Rational Team Concert. It helps address the gaps in these IBM products in situations where project planning and execution are critical component of IT operations.
It will be interesting to see if Planview integrates more with downstream product information management providers such as Enterworks, Heiler, Riversand and Stibo Systems which are becoming part of the product management processes of organizations. Our benchmark research in product information management finds it important for companies to connect information across the business to support high-quality product information for all channels.
Planview continues to address the business challenges in managing portfolios of assets and resources for which projects and planning are essential. Planview Enterprise 10.4 facilitates automating the flow from idea management to product development and into business processes. Managing new initiatives in an organization, as my colleague Robert Kugel has outlined, is critical to achieving objectives and benefits. Businesses cannot assume that everything will get done without first creating structure, or depend on the experience and skills of only a few key contributors who are not able to manage everything individually. Managing distributed projects, which sometimes involve global resources, is not easy, but Planview has made the process simpler with this release.
Planview built its business in IT organizations but now offers a larger business framework. Its business and IT application approach is different from those of other vendors, and customers can deploy its applications through software as a service and cloud computing. This deployment method helps customers move beyond today’s overload of email and spreadsheets, and the use of person-centric project management. These approaches cannot handle the enterprise load that finance, operations and IT need to manage and use to plan portfolios to optimal value. These significant steps by Planview have helped the company to continue its growth, but I believe it could grow further if it could better convey the relevance of its applications to folks in marketing, sales, customer service and overall operations.
Organizations that need to manage and plan their business more efficiently should take a look at Planview, and move beyond the waste of time and money that result from using personal productivity tools for portfolio management.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer