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10 Best PPM Tools For 2021: Comparison And Expert Reviews

By 04/01/2021 No Comments

You’ve got visions of growth for your team and your business, but in order to turn those visions into reality, you’ve got to have the right PPM tools to effectively manage projects and resources as you scale.

The Best PPM Tools

We’ve seen a lot of great project portfolio management software, but these are a cut above the rest. We take an in-depth look at the pros & cons of the following tools in this review:

  1. monday.com - Best PPM tool for workflow customization capabilities
  2. Celoxis - Best PPM tool for resource management capabilities
  3. ESPMI - Best PPM tool for financial administration
  4. Forecast.app - Best PPM tool for AI and automation capabilities
  5. Wrike - Best for live tracking of team workloads and capacity
  6. Smartsheet - Best for reporting features
  7. Proggio - Patent based Enterprise PPM solution for professionals
  8. Runn - Best PPM tool with integrated variance reporting and financial forecasting
  9. Bubble - Best PPM tool for project and portfolio prioritization
  10. Acuity PPM - best lightweight PPM tool for new PMOs

Below you’ll find an overview of each of the 10 best ppm tools, with screenshots, feature overviews, and pricing.

Jump to ppm tool overviews

Growing your team—and your enterprise in general—through bigger and bigger projects is paramount in order to be a competitive company in today’s market. With project portfolio management tools, you can collect and consolidate data about your projects in order to manage risks, resources, timelines, budgets, and much more.

PPM Tools For 2021 DPM Logo Soup 2021

There’s no shortage of great PPM tools out there, which is why we’re providing a detailed evaluation of the best ones in this PPM tool review. Learn what PPM tools do, how the best PPM tools compare, and how to know that you’re picking the ideal software for your project portfolio and business goals.

At the bottom of the post, we include a table summarizing basic info about the tools described in this article as well as an explanation of our selection criteria, so you can understand how we made this list of workflow management software.

The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

Overview Of The Best Project Portfolio Management Software (PPM Tools)

  • 14 days free trial
  • From $17/month for 2 users

monday.com - Best PPM tool for workflow customization capabilities

View project dashboards with high-level insights on projects.

monday.com is a great project portfolio management software because of the way the tool has done away with a lot of the trimmings of typical management tools and focused on simple, visually intuitive layouts that help clarify the sequence of work.

monday.com allows you to allocate & prioritize tasks, use various views in order to see where everything stands, and track multiple projects using dashboards that provide high-level insights in a visual and intuitive way. The platform is completely customizable so you will be able to adjust it to your workflow. The platform also provides powerful and customizable notifications and automation so you and your team can focus on what’s important.

With monday.com you can plan, manage, and track your budgets in an intuitive interface. You can track expenses, income, their dates, and attach needed files to each item. And thanks to the various columns, you can filter items by many different variables such as status, people, text, time, location and others. Formula columns are also available.

While monday.com doesn’t offer traditional automated reporting, it is built to show the big picture at a glance to help you analyze various aspects of your projects and processes. To learn about the different capabilities that help analyze performance, scope out their detailed explanation here.

monday.com’s integrations include project management apps like Slack, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform, and many more, accessible via Zapier.

monday.com costs from $17/month for two users. The company’s customer support is available 24/7 by phone or email and answers within 10 minutes.

Summary of monday.com:

  1. Resource management: Pass
  2. Financial administration: Pass
  3. Risk management: Pass
  4. Reporting & analytics: Fail
  5. Integrations: Pass
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $25/user/month

Celoxis - Best PPM tool for resource management capabilities

Portfolio Dashboard

Celoxis is an all-in-one project portfolio management software and work collaboration platform that is successfully adopted by brands like HBO, Rolex, Virgin Care, Adobe, Staples, LG, and Deloitte. Being a full-featured project portfolio management system, Celoxis is still very intuitive and easy to use for teams of all sizes.

With Celoxis, you get comprehensive resource management capabilities. It lets you easily allocate resources based on skills, roles, and availability as well as view cross-portfolio resource workload to optimally utilize your workforce. You will find tools for capacity planning, demand management, and project requests. When it comes to tracking project financials, you can automatically get cost/revenue estimates from your plans. You can also track budgets, costs, and profits in real-time as well as plug billing leaks by timely invoicing your clients. Celoxis’ reporting features let you slice, dice, and visualize data your way. You can get aggregated information about your projects with fully customizable portfolio dashboards. Celoxis comes pre-built with common workflows to help bug/issue tracking and risk management. These workflows are very adaptable to suit your organizational processes without having to resort to emails and spreadsheets.

Celoxis integrates seamlessly with hundreds of popular business applications through first-class integration connectors and web-based API. This includes critical platforms like Jira, Salesforce, QuickBooks Online, Excel, Slack, Google Apps, and more.

Celoxis is one of the few tools that offer SaaS and On-Premise deployment options. Celoxis costs $25/user/month with additional commitment discounts.

Summary of Celoxis:

  1. Resource management: Pass
  2. Financial administration: Pass
  3. Risk management: Pass
  4. Reporting & analytics: Pass
  5. Integrations: Pass
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $188/year

ESPMI - Best PPM tool for financial administration

ESPMI includes a priority board to allow users to quickly see priorities based on priority score, item type, lifecycle stage, and more.

ESPMI is an end to end PPM tool designed for project teams, programme teams, portfolio teams, and PMO Managers. ESPMI includes features for managing the day-to-day of portfolios and projects, such as benefits, RAID logs, people and team members, money and budgets, schedules, governance, and change management, as well as higher level strategy for portfolios and projects.

Financial admin features include the ability to view and track portfolio and organizational budgets and cash flow, as well as benefits realization for measuring and tracking ROI and value of projects and overall portfolios.

ESPMI offers dashboards that provide visibility into risks and issues, and includes capabilities for rating and classifying risks and issues. Users can identify trends and patterns in risk management across portfolios. Reporting capabilities include health indicators for projects and portfolios, as well as other metrics and analytics.

Pricing starts at $188 per year.

Pros

  • Strong budgeting and forecasting capabilities
  • Excellent dashboard that boosts visibility
  • New to market and able to pivot and adopt new features quickly

Cons

  • As a new product, doesn’t have a user base community
  • Currently no third party integrations
  • 14 days free trial
  • From £25/user/month

Forecast.app - Best PPM tool for AI and automation capabilities

Forecast’s auto schedule feature can assign resources, estimate task durations, and more.

Forecast is a project portfolio management tool that allows users to manage projects, resources, and finances, and includes capabilities for managing entire portfolios and single project milestones or tasks.

Forecast’s auto schedule feature assists with project planning by automatically estimating task durations, assigning resources, and setting deadlines. Other AI capabilities include timesheet suggestions based on historical data, cost and budget estimation, and more. Resource management and business intelligence capabilities allow users to see portfolio capacity. The tool also allows for fixed price, time and materials, or retainer projects to be run side-by-side.

Forecast allows you to see a holistic picture of your project’s financial performance, including revenue, costs, and potential budget concerns. You can also create invoices from timesheets, and track invoicing against budget.

Forecast integrates with mainstream project management tools, as well as with Jira, QuickBooks, Xero, and more.

Pricing starts at £25/user/month, and a 14-day free trial is available.

Pros

  • Includes AI-powered auto-scheduling and time entry suggestions
  • Easy to use, implement, and get up and running
  • Highly flexible and customizable

Cons

  • No browser extension for time tracking
  • No asset management features
  • Minimum of 10 seats
  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $9.80/user/month

Wrike - Best for live tracking of team workloads and capacity

Manage your portfolio on Gantt charts, boards, tables, and more.

Wrike is an award-winning, easy-to-use project portfolio management software trusted by 20,000+ organizations worldwide. The tool is suitable for teams of anywhere from five members to an unlimited number of members. It’s highly configurable and includes AI capabilities that can assess at-risk projects and help to optimize your portfolio. Users can customize workflows, dashboards, reports, request forms, and more.

Wrike’s easy-to-use interface enables users to switch between Kanban boards, interactive drag-and-drop Gantt charts, and traditional workload views, providing a full overview of resources in real-time.

Wrike also features advanced portfolio insights including project and team performance reports, resource management and allocation, time tracking, and more. The reporting features provide an accurate overview of your portfolio to help minimize risk. Users can also schedule real-time insights to be sent to your inbox for a picture of overall portfolio health.

Wrike has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and navigation with distinct spaces, folders, and tasks. Toggle between the home screen and timesheets, dashboards, calendars, reports, and the activity stream.

Wrike offers 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.

Pricing starts at $9.80 per user per month. There are four different price points, including a free version and plans which offer the ability to invite free external collaborators to a paid account.

  • 30 days free trial
  • From $14/user/month

Smartsheet - Best for reporting features

Smartsheet Dashboard.

Smartsheet isn’t a dedicated PPM tool but it does have a lot of really good reporting features that make it great for looking at project metrics on both an individual and high level.
So, while there really aren’t many finance or risk management features, Smartsheet offers some above-average reporting and visualization tools that are useful for portfolio management. For example real-time metrics and customizable dashboards that can be made to display specific project data for each project by modifying a drag-and-drop dashboard interface.

Indeed, reporting is the strongest feature of this tool in the context of managing a portfolio of projects, offering the ability to publish stakeholder-facing reporting dashboards and editable summary reports that you can easily export to Excel.

There are lots of project management and resource management tools, which I consider to be fairly standard among this type of software—it’s a well-rounded set of tools for scheduling, assigning resources, tracking work, and assigning and tracking budget. There isn’t a dedicate PPM module in this tool, but you’ll doubtlessly collect all of the project data you need to analyze a portfolio (budget and spend, resource allocation, capacity, etc) and do the rest with a prebuilt integration to a business intelligence tool like Tableau (below).

Smartsheet integrations include Microsoft and Google apps, as well as development essentials like Jira, and useful business apps like Salesforce, ServiceNow, Slack, Box, and Tableau. The platform is extensible through a REST API and webhooks.

Smartsheet costs from $14/user/month and offers a 30-day trial

Summary of Smartsheet:

  1. Resource management: Pass
  2. Financial administration: Fail
  3. Risk management: Fail
  4. Reporting & analytics: Pass
  5. Integrations: Pass
  • 30 days free trial
  • From $250/month for unlimited users

Proggio - Patent based Enterprise PPM solution for professionals

Gain a clear high-level view with status updates of your enterprise portfolio in a quick glance.

Proggio is a patent-based enterprise project portfolio management solution that’s trusted by companies such as Decathlon, SodaStream, Verifone, and Ahava.

Crafted for portfolio managers by portfolio managers, Proggio comes with a robust interface and project portfolio management functionalities, such as resource management, risk management, budget management, and real-time analytics and reporting.

Proggio gives users visual clarity over multiple projects, with multiple dependencies, deadlines, and goals in a quick snapshot.

Proggio also provides unlimited users with highly customizable views for data and tools for the relevant roles and tasks so that all updates or changes made in the portfolio, project, or task management level are automatically reflected throughout the platform. The tool also has support available through Zoom, chat, and email.

Proggio integrates with G-Suite, Microsoft 365, and Jira. It also offers API access, as well as additional integrations via Zapier.

Proggio costs from $250/month for unlimited users and offers a free 30-day trial

Summary of Proggio:

  1. Resource management: Pass
  2. Financial administration: Pass
  3. Risk management: Pass
  4. Reporting & analytics: Pass
  5. Integrations: Pass
  • freemium version
  • 14 days free trial
  • From $10/user/month

Runn - Best PPM tool with integrated variance reporting and financial forecasting

The Project Planner interface lets you see all projects at a glance and get real-time forecasts for capacity, workload, billing, and more.

Runn is a modern, data-driven resource planning and PPM tool. Runn combines resource and project portfolio planning with time tracking, financial forecasting, and reporting so you can make better decisions and adjust your plans as your projects unfold.

Runn’s Planner interface provides a visual bird’s-eye view of all your projects and people, allowing you to strategically plan project timelines and balance resources across the entire organization. The Planner interface also allows users to plan out assignments and phases (through simple drag-and-drop), create milestones, and assign people and placeholders. Switch between monthly, quarterly, and half-yearly views to quickly view your projects across the short and long term, and see how tentative projects affect your portfolio’s bottom line.

Runn offers a number of charts and reports that update as users schedule projects or people. These reports provide an organization-wide overview of planned workload, resource availability, utilization rates, and more. The tool also generates easy-to-understand financial forecasts, including project billing and profitability, and surfaces relevant KPIs for your people, clients, and projects from their own dashboards. Their built-in timesheets let you compare actual and planned time spent on projects so you can make informed decisions based on real data and avoid risks before they become problems.

Runn integrates with Harvest, WorkflowMax, and Clockify for importing project, client, and people data, and syncing timesheet entries. Their REST API allows you to build out your own integration and send data to and from your favorite tools.

Runn is completely free for businesses of 5 or fewer people, or costs from $10/person/month for their Pro and Enterprise plans. Runn also offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.

Pros

  • Easy drag-and-drop resource scheduling
  • Over-budget predictions and utilization forecasting
  • Ability to assign placeholder resources to projects

Cons

  • No task-level management and scheduling
  • No offline or mobile time tracking
  • Free demo is available
  • From $45 user/month. Discounts available for user groups of 100+ Requires one-time deployment fee

Bubble - Best PPM tool for project and portfolio prioritization

Bubble's dashboards stand out because they're composed of tiles that are 100% configurable, editable, and moveable.

Bubble sets itself apart in the project and portfolio management space by designing its software around end-user needs. The tool offers features for defining organizational strategies and targets, as well as configurable dashboards that provide a top-to-bottom understanding of the entire portfolio and what it’s delivering.

Bubble is easy to learn and intuitive to use. You can get comfortable with using it within an hour, and advanced functionality can be mastered in less than a day. The tool’s creators outline a 4-step rapid deployment process and provide quick-start guides, video explainers, and help desk support to ensure widespread adoption of the platform.

The software places a large emphasis on time-saving tools while allowing users to keep an eye on the project detail. Graphical status indicators ensure teams can identify what’s required to move projects forward, what the blockers are, and what they don’t need to worry about anymore. Real-time reports and updates can be shared easily (often with a single click). Bubble PPM also has fully integrated resource management, risk, and finance modules that automatically track dependencies across the platform according to the role, department, workstream, or other variables.

Bubble doesn’t currently have timesheet tracking, but its rough-cut approach to capacity planning ensures customers instantly see the impact of resource bottlenecks ahead of time so they can adapt their plans as priorities evolve.

Finally, a standout feature of Bubble is the prioritization module. This simple but powerful tool helps team leaders ensure all parts of their organization are working to the same priorities. Project lists default to the priority order, meaning users instinctively know what to prioritize. In resource management, the priority order identifies where individuals, departments, or the organization itself, will run out of capacity.

Bubble PPM costs from $45 user/month. The platform also supports integrations using API calls via REST API endpoints with access controlled by a client-owned API key.

Summary of Bubble:

  1. Resource management: Pass
  2. Financial administration: Pass
  3. Risk management: Pass
  4. Reporting & analytics: Pass
  5. Integrations: Pass
  • 15 days free trial
  • From $299/month

Acuity PPM - best lightweight PPM tool for new PMOs

Track and manage your project portfolio across your organization.

Acuity PPM is a lightweight portfolio management solution that is a great alternative to spreadsheets. The tool includes a beautiful interface to help you manage your project portfolio, as well as fundamental capabilities for getting visibility into your entire project portfolio, managing work intake, prioritizing projects, tracking project performance and status reports, and managing resource capacity.

PMOs can track project portfolios and get insights on project status, store status reports in one place, and view status history across your portfolio. Another great feature is the ability to view portfolio roadmaps and see timing and sequencing for projects in the portfolio. PMO team members can also score projects using Acuity’s scoring model and then easily prioritize projects.

Acuity PPM pricing starts at $299 per month.

The Best PPM Tools Summary Chart

Here’s a summary chart with essential info: easily compare free trials and demos and pricing, along with a score showing how we rate the tool.

Software Overview Free Option Price Site
monday.com monday.com logo Read monday.com features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $17/month for 2 users Check out monday.com
Celoxis Celoxis logo Read Celoxis features & functionality

30 days free trial

From $25/user/month Check out Celoxis
ESPMI ESPMI logo Read ESPMI features & functionality

14 days free trial

From $188/year Check out ESPMI
Forecast.app Forecast.app logo Read Forecast.app features & functionality

14 days free trial

From £25/user/month Check out Forecast.app
Wrike Wrike logo Read Wrike features & functionality Freemium version

14 days free trial

From $9.80/user/month Check out Wrike
Smartsheet Smartsheet logo Read Smartsheet features & functionality

30 days free trial

From $14/user/month Check out Smartsheet
Proggio Proggio logo Read Proggio features & functionality

30 days free trial

From $250/month for unlimited users Check out Proggio
Runn Runn logo Read Runn features & functionality Freemium version

14 days free trial

From $10/user/month Check out Runn
Bubble Bubble logo Read Bubble features & functionality

Free demo is available

From $45 user/month. Discounts available for user groups of 100+ Requires one-time deployment fee Check out Bubble
Acuity PPM Acuity PPM logo Read Acuity PPM features & functionality

15 days free trial

From $299/month Check out Acuity PPM

PPM Tools Buyer’s Guide

What Is PPM?

In project management, PPM is project portfolio management. In PPM, a project portfolio manager takes a high-level look at the pool of projects and programs (some of which may be directly related, and some not) in a business’s portfolio.
A single project is the elementary cell of an organization. Zoom out, and we have project management, which is concerned with the execution needed for completing projects. Zoom out more, and we see the various projects that an organization takes on. PPM is concerned with making sure these distinct projects are undertaken in a way that complements one another in terms of resources, timelines, and overall business goals.

What Does A Project Portfolio Manager Do?

A project portfolio manager oversees, controls, and leads the tasks associated with managing a project portfolio. This person needs the skills of a chess master to adequately lead the team and finish projects, ideally on time and under budget. The responsibility range of this position is immense and often deals with researchers, analysts, and clients as they manage the high-level coordination of projects, following current market trends, and anticipating future ones.

What Do PPM Tools Do And How Can They Help You?

Project Portfolio Management software - ppm tools

Discover the benefits of using project portfolio management tools

Keep your project on the right track: You’re as good as the data you have. Use PPM software to avoid the trap of making poor decisions based on outdated or irrelevant information.
Provide executive-level business insight: Detailed project stats are simply impossible to store in your head. When managing multiple projects, you need software that is able to provide more advanced data—and executives will love you because of it! Proving to stakeholders the value and rationale behind decisions in a concise manner will help you build strong business cases for your projects.
Allocate resources: Driving better business decisions is at the top of every successful business’s priority list. PPM software shows you who’s working on what and for how long, allowing you to allocate and redistribute resources accordingly.

Fix performance issues: When managing a project portfolio, you might start to identify places where the same problems arise on a recurring basis. An effective PPM tool helps you track the project’s health indicators (such as Return on Investment) and identify any unhealthy patterns.
Assess risks: PPM software provides data and transparency into your projects for not only identifying risks but for quantifying them and exploring solutions by way of your portfolio data.

Project Portfolio Management Software Selection Criteria

In our selection of PPM tools, we narrowed down our criteria to a few key points. Let’s go through some of the most important criteria for choosing the best PPM tool fit for your team.

    • Resource management – Like resource scheduling software, PPM software with resource planning will help you make better decisions around project planning at the portfolio level. This includes features for resource allocation, capacity planning and resource utilization, managing timelines, and projections.
  • Financial administrationPPM tools should help improve your accuracy in managing financial projections, with functionality for estimating project costs and managing budgets. The best software has the option to manage and streamline payrolls, and payment invoicing in general.
  • Risk managementRisk management tools and change management features enable us to plan accordingly for risks and change requests, make risk response plans, and easily estimate the impact of What If scenarios.
  • Reporting & analytics – With robust, streamlined reports that allow you to see what works and what doesn’t, you set yourself up for future success. Modern portfolio management software must provide multiple options for generating reports. Spreadsheets are a baseline, but there are plenty of modern PPM tools with great data visualization tools for communicating data to stakeholders.
  • Integrations – Because there is no perfect PPM software out there, we need tools that sync or integrate with other project management tools, task management tools, or time tracking tools. Integrations with other business tools such as Microsoft Office, Excel, Jira, and Slack are also considered.

 

 

How To Choose The Best Portfolio Management Software For Your Projects?

Now, you have the insight into the most popular PPM tools out there. At this point, we’ll walk you through the final steps on how to choose the best PPM solution for your organization. Ask yourself these questions when choosing PPM software:

What Is Your PPM Maturity Level?

According to the Gartner model, you can determine your enterprise’s maturity by placing it into one of the 5 models (in ascending order of maturity):

  1. Reactive – this accounts for all organizations with an ad-hoc approach to projects. There is a minimal requirement for high-end PPM tools, although they’ll prove necessary for growth.
  2. Emerging Discipline – next level of management and approach to projects. It involves the use of basic PPM tools but on a more frequent and advanced level.
  3. Initial Integration – follows a more holistic approach to PPM. This is the point where a larger organization pattern is needed. Risky decisions could surface, and data tracking must be on point.
  4. Effective Integration – This is the point where automation becomes necessary, and a manager needs as much help as possible in order to execute everything on time, and under budget.
  5. Effective innovation – This is the end-game everyone strives for. PPMs are fully utilized on multiple levels, and an Enterprise Project Management Office is installed to facilitate the execution.

What Are The Main Requirements?

Take the time to carefully plan out the requirements that your team has for a PPM tool. Analyze the past work and the potential future projects, and try to make an assessment as objectively as possible. Use this article as a cheat sheet and consult as many sources as you can before deciding on your ideal PPM tool.

How Would The PPM Tool Fit Into Your Workflow?

Think about every tool you and your team use besides a PPM tool. Check for integration compatibility and were in the project lifecycle you are going to integrate the newly acquired tool first.

Ensure the tool is compatible with the project management processes and methodologies your organization uses, whether it’s agile, waterfall, or a hybrid methodology.

How Long To Set It Up?

Just keep in mind that your current projects might need to come to a short halt in order to fully integrate a new PPM tool.

Ease Of Onboarding

Your team will need some time to learn and adapt to the new set of PPM tools that are going to be presented to them. Account for every factor like: time to learn, availability of learning material, training, and support from the software provider, etc.

Think about the support for different native platforms, like Android and iOS, and fit it into your team accordingly. You should also consider whether the software solution is on-premise, cloud-based, or a SaaS.

Cost

Last, but certainly not least, these PPM tools come at a price. After you calculate the budget you have, do not forget that every PPM tool pays off multifold with the service it provides.

Other PPM tools

We’ve prepared a list of additional PPM tools that you might consider:

What Do You Think?

Do you agree with our list? How would you approach this topic? There are a ton of factors in the project portfolio management equation, and new input is always welcome.

Ben Aston

About Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of thedigitalprojectmanager.com. I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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