New Hewlett-Packard PPM Release Improves Visibility Into Project Portfolios

Hewlett-Packard is shipping a new release of its HP Project and Portfolio Management software that offers new tools for measuring corporate performance and helps businesses develop real-time governance processes.

The new capabilities in HP PPM 9.1 also broaden the scope of the product beyond IT projects to make it useful for managing everything from professional services to construction and engineering projects.

While the new HP PPM 9.1 has been available to some existing customers since late last year, the company is now making the new software generally available, said Bruce Randall, HP PPM product marketing director, in an interview.

Project and portfolio management software is a $3.5 billion annual market, according to market researcher IDC, where HP competes against CA, Compuware, and a large number of PPM and project management application vendors. PPM systems are used to prioritize projects, whether they be IT, construction or other large-scale projects, allocate resources between them, and track and manage project finances.

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HP sells its PPM applications both direct and through partners such as systems integrators and project management consultants who use the tools themselves or implement them for customers.

Melillo Consulting, a Somerset, N.J.-based technology solutions integrator and HP partner, is seeing increased demand for PPM systems from organizations trying to improve their visibility into big IT projects, said Karen Dicks, Melillo director and vice president. Melillo resells HP hardware and software, including the PPM application.

"There's a fundamental challenge to IT these days," she said, noting that businesses are trying to improve financial management of IT while maintaining flexibility and responsiveness to users. They are also looking for ways to reduce the number of applications they have in production. Many of the solution provider's customers are launching project management offices.

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HP PPM 9.1 provides a new "portfolio hierarchy" capability that can mirror an organization's planning and management structure, according to HP. Additions to the software's user controls and improvements to its project work breakdown structure help users improve project management and execution.

"This hierarchical portfolio management is something many of our customers have been asking for," Dicks said. "We've seen some very quick adoption."

The 9.1 release also offers new operational reporting, analysis and key performance indicator (KPI) capabilities for tracking all aspects of a project, including financial status, portfolio of investments, programs, proposals and performance of existing services. New executive scorecard, and financial planning and analysis modules provide near real-time data for managers to work with.

’One of our new PPM customers noted how their teams have really enjoyed the enhanced executive dashboard and portfolio management capabilities,’ said Jon Furner, president of Results Positive, an HP solution provider partner. ’They have commented that their managers are impressed with enterprise portfolio visibility of available budget and resources to meet business demand via executive level dashboards.’

While many businesses have been assembling project performance data for years, there really hasn't been a good way of extracting value from it, Dicks said. The new executive scorecard in 9.1 will change that. "I call it putting the 'I' back in IT," she said.

For IT development projects HP PPM 9.1 is integrated with HP Application Lifecycle Management, the vendor's toolset for managing the lifecycle of complex software systems.