When it comes to project and portfolio management (PPM) software, according to Stamford, Conn. research firm Gartner Inc., most enterprises will have adopted an integrated PPM application suite by 2009.

Integrated PPM software suites include traditional PPM software combined with enterprise applications such as lifecycle management and service management. The technology enables organizations to track a large portfolio of projects across business units.

Released last year, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Project and Portfolio Management 2004 notes that enterprises have plenty of options in selecting PPM software to rank and monitor IT projects.

Judging from new-product announcements from PPM vendors, the current trend is for compliance tools within the suite. For example, Mercury Interactive Corp.’s IT Governance Center software suite includes applications that automate IT change-tracking driven by compliance mandates. Other vendors to stress corporate governance recently include Compuware Corp., IBM Rational and SAP AG.

The Gartner report also noted that the current leaders in the PPM software space include Lawson Software, Primavera, PlanView Inc. and Mercury. Also in the running, Gartner said, are Microsoft Corp.’s MS Project 2003 and Systemcorp, which was acquired by IBM Corp.’s Rational brand in November.

Microsoft’s enterprise push into this space attempts to move beyond MS Project’s traditional role as a desktop application. For example, MS Project 2003 includes data integration and network resource utilization capabilities. These advanced features indicate Microsoft’s desire to stack up with rivals such as Primavera and Niku.

Microsoft is working on developing partner relationships to shift into the enterprise market with Project-based applications, said Joe Galati, product manager for Project, Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. MS Project’s selling point is that it has the same “look and feel” as the Microsoft Office System; Galati said the next version of Project will fall in line with the impending launch of the Longhorn OS.

According to Ari Kugler, IBM’s Montreal-based worldwide project director for Rational Portfolio Manager, with the shift towards Web-based applications, traditional project management is evolving into portfolio management: IT management systems that connect with ERP and other applications. “It’s really about running the business of IT,” Kugler said, adding that the tool tracks costs and other expenses against project milestones.

Borland Software Corp., Oracle Corp., Mercury, Microsoft and ProSight Inc. also sell IT portfolio management tools. IBM’s Rational Portfolio Manager is designed to help enterprises monitor risks and justify investments for application development efforts, Kugler said. The tool’s dashboard feature provides tables, maps and displays of status and comparisons to calculate ROI and payback of projects.

The Gartner report concludes that most IT organizations will adopt a set of PPM application Web services to plan project portfolios, allocate resources for projects and support project team collaboration.

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Related links:

B2B standard targets integration

Best practices in enterprise integration

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