Your decision-making is only as good as your information. When juggling multiple projects across an organization, it's not always easy to focus on the big picture and keep strategic priorities in mind. With project portfolio management software, you stand a chance.
Instead of getting lost in the minor details of day-to-day work and losing time and energy on the wrong projects, you can make the best use of your resources to drive your company forward to hit your business goals, achieve profitability, and your company vision.
This article will explore the best project portfolio management software to help you do that and more. But first, let’s look at what you should look for in a project portfolio management solution.
What to consider when looking for a PPM solution
A great project portfolio management software should give you peace of mind that your portfolio is delivering the best possible results and value for the business. Here are the factors you should look out for when you’re choosing between PPM providers:
- High-level visibility: Nothing is more important than having a bird's-eye view of what’s happening across your portfolio. Instead of getting lost in the unnecessary details of individual projects, project portfolio management software will give you this insight. Here are some things to look at:
- What are other customers saying about monitoring and visibility into portfolio status? For example, if people are complaining about complexity and getting lost in details, it might be a red flag.
- What are the reporting capabilities? Will you be able to monitor data and track KPIs in the tool? Will you still need Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations?
- Look at the user interface. How hard is it to navigate through software to get the needed information?
- Ease of setup: The longer you spend on implementation and onboarding, the later you can start delivering results. Again, the most reliable way to check vendor capabilities is to check with their existing clients and their onboarding experience.
- Integrations: Make sure you check all integration possibilities to avoid any unpleasant surprises and additional costs later in the process.
- Customer support: Bringing a new tool into an organization isn’t exactly a walk in the park. You’ll want to make sure there’s a customer support team you can count on - because nothing is more irritating than a lack of responsive support. Here are some things to look out for:
- How quickly can you reach their customer support team? Through which channels?
- Is support included in a pricing plan or do you need to pay extra?
- How happy are existing clients with their support? Check the provider’s social media or online communities, and third-party review sites (such as G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius).
- Pricing: Some providers offer tiered plans while others send you customized quotes based on your needs. Some even offer a free plan, so you try out the tool before committing to it. Pay attention to what’s included in the price. Double check if there are extra fees for additional features, integrations, more users, or extra customer support.
- Strategic contribution: A big differentiator between traditional and strategic PMOs is that later know they need to align with the company’s overall strategic goals. The right portfolio management will help you to demonstrate how each project contributes to the company’s success.
- Security: Is the provider compliant with your security requirements? Look for a solution with enterprise-grade security (support for SSL and TLS should be standard), with support for GDPR and anything else your industry requires.
What is the difference between project portfolio management software and project management software?
Before we dive into the list of tools, let’s cover one common mistake that companies do while looking for the right project portfolio management solution.
Some brave souls still use project management software for project portfolio management. However, this approach is not ideal. The faster your company scales its operations and grows, the more control you need over what’s happening across your portfolio.
Here are three drawbacks of using project management software for PPM:
- Easy to lose the strategic overview. With its task-oriented structure, your team can lose the context and clarity they need to connect project execution with the company's goals and vision.
- Less than optimal use of resources. Without project portfolio management software, you can invest time and people in the wrong areas. Projects can conflict and compete for stretched resources, and your company pays the price by missing out on its strategic goals.
- Takes time to collect data for reporting. Many project management platforms lack the integrations to unite your entire tech stack and organization under one roof.
- You struggle to keep everyone aligned. Inevitably, you end up with silos, disconnected docs, spreadsheets, and projects—and a lot of wasted time as you try to keep everyone on the same page.
7 of the best project portfolio management software in 2023
Now that you know what you should look for in PPM software and why you should avoid typical project management solutions, let’s evaluate the market.
Below are the seven most popular project management solutions available today.
Check out information about each solution, along with key features, pros, cons, and pricing details.
Cascade is a strategy execution platform with a laser focus on progress and speed, along with a commitment to top-notch customer service. This all-in-one platform combines the most powerful elements of project portfolio management software, strategic planning solutions, and reporting tools.
Since 2014, Cascade helps companies excel at strategies for growth, change management, and digital transformation.
Our clients love the tool for its ability to keep all data in one place in one place, track performance, and build quick reports to empower every stakeholder with insights on financials, capacity, and demand.
Using its real-time data, Cascade helps you to confidently engage leadership in discussions about funding, strategic priorities, and impact.
Cascade Key features
- Customized real-time PPM dashboards with powerful filters to give you a high-level overview of what’s happening across your project portfolio
- Snapshot reports help you identify risks and dependencies ahead of time
- In-app comments on the status
- Strategic planning and roadmapping
- Project portfolio management (PPM)
- Risk reporting
- Project planning
- Drill-down capabilities to dive into details of projects happening across different teams
- Real-time KPI tracking and reporting to help you deliver more effective performance and resource utilization
- Export your data as PDF reports or detailed Excel files
- 1000+ integrations with your favorite project management tools and financial systems
- Team collaboration
- Free template library
- Financial management: Customization capabilities and app integration help you to pull from other business systems, like budgeting, spending, and potential benefit. You will be able to prioritize initiatives and resource allocation.
- Demonstrate strategic contribution: With the Plan feature, you will be able to link every project, program, or portfolio with organizational strategy.
- Ease of use and quick setup: Speed and usability are at the core of what makes Cascadethe leader in its category.
- Transparent pricing: Start with a free version, get a premium monthly subscription or enterprise pricing. There are no hidden fees for extra add-ons.
- Customer support you can count on: Cascade’s support team will help you through email, chat, or phone no matter your plan. With paid plans, you’ll also get access to our experts who are all ex-consultants from top-tier firms across the globe to help you bridge the gap between planning and execution.
The stellar Quality of Support ratings shows that this support team is no joke.
- Strategy focus: Cascade puts focus on strategy execution through highly effective project portfolio management. While it does have some pretty cool project management software features, individual goals or task management is not its primary focus.
What clients are saying about Cascade:
“It's the only tool in our organization that provides a birds-eye view of our complete change portfolio and how what we are investing in is balanced across our strategic plan.”
- Greer H. Principal Advisor to the CEO
"I like the flexibility of the system, which allows me to report up to the Executive Team and the Board while at the same time operationalizing our strategy. We can also prepare reports for other senior stakeholders. This allows us to have appropriate governance and transparency in our work, with little or no additional burden."
- David O, InGeNA Program Director
“Cascade has given my company a single source of truth when it comes to our goals and what specific actions the business is taking to get there. The interface is flexible and customizable when it comes to including custom fields and aligning goals to multiple areas of focus. The Cascade team seems to be available around the clock for solving urgent asks and they have also been incredibly responsive when it comes to building custom solutions.”
Source: Reviews taken from G2
- Free forever plan
- The premium plan starts at $24/month per user
- Enterprise plan: You get a customized proposal based on your business needs (perfect for larger organizations with multiple teams and enterprise project portfolio management).
Planview Enterprise One
Launched in 1997, Planview Enterprise One is one of the oldest players in the project portfolio management space. Today, Enterprise one is an end-to-end work and resource management platform that provides a wide range of features.
- Gantt timeline view
- Program management
- Resource planning
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) monitoring
- Portfolio management
- Real-time notifications
- Status tracking
- Veteran player: Planview is one of the largest, oldest PPM providers in the work and portfolio management space.
- Enterprise-oriented: They offer a comprehensive feature set or product bundles for enterprise-level needs, but what’s enough for some can be a drawback for others:
- Enterprise focus only: For fast-growing companies or medium-sized enterprises who are just looking for a simple PPM tool, Enterprise One might be overkill.
- Ease of use and setup: We’ve spotted many reviews that often report on overcomplexity and not being very user-friendly.
- Expensive tool: There is no official data regarding pricing on their website, but based on user reviews, the pricing is high and usually related to a number of licenses.
- Limited reporting system: It lacks flexibility and visuals
Pricing is not available on their website. You must contact Planview to get a customized quote.
Clarizen is a heavy-duty Saas tool, acquired by Planview in 2021. It is an online project management service that connects work across the enterprise. Its focus is more on project management and workflow automation and collaboration that help enterprises turn ideas into strategies, plans, and meaningful action.
- Project portfolio management
- Capacity planning and resource management
- Document management
- Reports and dashboards
- Configurable workflows
- Time and expense tracking
- Project budget tracking
- Team collaboration
- An excellent “all-in-one” tool: It is a very complete solution for multiple kinds of project and portfolio management business area
- Reporting capabilities: Real-time insights help you understand the status
- Update on the go: Intuitive mobile app improves engagement
- Focused on the enterprise: Clarizen is focused on providing everything the largest businesses could need; as a result, its complexity might be overwhelming for fast-growing companies that need to be agile and fast.
- Task-oriented: Its structure pulls focus from strategy and big-picture goals.
- Mixed reviews on ease of use: Slow, unresponsive program may cause frustration.
- Inflexible pricing: While some users have no complaints, some share dissatisfaction about additional costs when you need an extra option in your tool.
Pricing is not available on their website. You must contact Planview to get a customized quote.
Jira Align is part of the Atlassian suite of products. It’s an enterprise agile planning tool that connects business strategy with technical execution. Businesses can centralize all team-level data and KPIs and make them accessible to everyone in the organization in real-time. Jira Align is most commonly used by organizations that are already Jira users.
- Data-driven Agile roadmaps
- Estimation comparisons
- Financial analysis
- Real-time forecasts
- Resource capacity planning
- Roll-up reporting
- Helps allocate resources for every project, task, and team member.
- Avoid bottlenecks, as you can set and review dependencies.
- See and share real-time insights on projects
- Focus on Agile: Jira Align is a perfect choice for large companies that have established commitment and ongoing adoption of agile frameworks. However, this might be a huge drawback for companies that are using a mix of agile and waterfall methodologies.
- Detailed documentation: Jira Align provides a huge amount of training and documentation materials with a large user community.
- Enterprise focus: Jira Alignfits best with customerswho have at least 500 developers using Jira and 30 minimum Jira Align licenses.
- Pay more for extra services: Do you need help with onboarding? You will have to count in additional costs for onboarding services.
- Integrations: Third-party app integrations with no-code are not available, and existing integration options require system administrators to configure them.
Jira Align is suited to large enterprises with at least 30 users minimum, with standard pricing starting from $27,000.
Shibumi is another cloud-based strategic program & portfolio management software that businesses can use to optimize and accelerate strategic planning and implementation. This platform helps C-suite members, PMOs, and IT leaders map and organize their project portfolios, track progress, and make more effective, informed decisions.
Despite the lack of user reviews on the internet, we pulled some information to give you a better understanding of their offer:
- Customizable dashboard to get accurate insights to guide better decisions on every step
- What-If Scenario Modeling
- Interdependencies & Capacity Mapping
- Idea management
- KPI monitoring to identify and track metrics that relate to your business objectives and company vision
- Enterprise-grade security: They are focused on the enterprise market and offer high-level security and compliance for large organizations
- Complex use and setup: Onboarding is complex, and the user interface isn’t always intuitive. These low user ratings on G2 aren’t a good sign.
- Lack of documentation: Lacks online support resources, interactive training, or community
You must contact Shibumi for customized pricing.
Wrike is a work management platform with a heavy emphasis on project management use. It’s a cloud-based project management application that helps organizations track and coordinate projects and promote cross-functional collaboration. While users love Wrike for task and project management, you can also use it for project portfolio management.
- Gantt Charts
- Project templates
- Task Management
- Forms to manage project requests
- Kanban boards
- Automated approval process
- Time tracking and reporting to monitor project performance
- Support for Agile and Waterfall methodologies
- Department-Specific Solutions: They offer many pre-built templates for everyone, including marketers, creative teams, professional service organizations, etc.
- Reliable service: Wrike has a 99.9% uptime.
- Mixed user experience: We've noticed occasional reports of poor user experience and steep learning curves for first-timers.
- Price: Wrike is definitely on the higher end of similar project management tools. Paid plans start at $49/per month (with a minimum of 5 users). On top of that, lots of advanced Wrike features are offered as add-ons.
Wrike offers a free version for up to five users. The paid plans start from $9.80/per user per month, with options for 5, 10, or 15 users.
Microsoft Project is one of the popular choices with project managers for project and portfolio management. Companies can use this platform to create and manage centralized management systems, optimize portfolios, prioritize resources and projects, and guide team members through implementation to achieve strategic objectives.
While it’s a perfect choice for teams with a smaller number of projects, it has limited features for someone that manages large project portfolios.
- Cost management
- Project Scheduling
- Risk Management
- Reports in various graphical formats and multiple timelines
- Task management
- Built-in templates and workflows
- Available on-premise or in the cloud
- A large user base: MS Project is one the oldest software solutions in project management with a huge community.
- A Microsoft product: For any user used to Microsoft's Software Family, the user interface and navigation will be very easy to understand and use.
- Pricing: It’s one of the costlier PPM solutions on the market. It’s not part of Microsoft 365. You can add it to your Office 365 subscription or just purchase it as a standalone product which can be quite expensive.
- Lacks integrations: MS Project integrations are limited to Microsoft applications, which might be a problem if you also use other tools outside the Microsoft ecosystem.
- Lack of collaboration: In-app communication is limited as it does not support any third-party communication tools.
- Requires lots of training: While some users love MS Project, we’ve spotted reports on it takes time to understand all possible features and functionalities, which can lead to slower onboarding and a lower adoption rate.
MS Project doesn’t have a free trial version available.
The paid plans for cloud-based solutions start from $10/user/month.
Get Cascade for speed and results
A project portfolio management tool should give you a high-level overview of what is going on across your entire project portfolio so you make smarter decisions and get the most value from your people, budget, and time.
If you are looking for a tool that is easy to get up and running with, but doesn’t skimp one bit on features that will massively improve your portfolio management, then Cascade is your new favorite portfolio management solution.
Approved by more than 6000 teams, Cascade is the best platform to manage your portfolio and ensure you take ideas to implementation—it’s built for strategy execution. You can bring your people together on this platform to make collaboration flow and align each project with the company's goals.
Ultimately, Cascade platform bridges the gap between the strategy leaders and those handling on-the-ground execution, helps everyone see faster results on every project, and ensures your organization can respond fearlessly to change.
Are you ready to take charge of your project portfolio management? Book a free Cascade demo today.
Disclaimer: We’ve done our best to give an honest overview of all the great tools that are out there. If you spot a mistake, please let us know.