As the leader of the PMO in my organization, I’m lucky enough to have a degree of influence (not total autonomy) over what and how systems are used to help the project management group do our jobs. While I still have a few mountains to climb to get to my utopian version of enterprise systems working in harmony to help put me out of a job (kidding), I thought I would share out what I feel is a perfect, all-star cast of systems designed to allow project managers to deliver successful projects.
Timesheet and Project Financials – Clarizen
Clarizen, as I’ve written about before, is a favorite system of mine based on the configurability factor alone. Clarizen comes out of the box with a great PSA feature set but can be tailored to fit just about any type of organizational needs when it comes to financials. Custom fields, custom calculations, workflows all work in harmony to ensure that business rules are adhered to, fields are calculated properly and that processes are enforced. The time-tracking aspect is a great feature too – if set up right, your end users won’t have a myriad of tasks to sift through in order to enter their time in an efficient manner. Clarizen offers an intuitive UI and an easy-to-navigate solution, making it my logical choice for time entry and managing project financials.
Reporting – Power BI
I’ve posted here before about the strengths of Power BI so I won’t repeat what I’ve already said (too much) but for the flexibility, the cost and the (pardon the pun) power, Power BI is an amazing business intelligence tool and it’s only getting started. With a rising adoption rate coupled with the ever growing library of out-of-the-box connectors, Power BI is the perfect tool to “put it all together” by marrying data from disparate systems in order to provide report consumers with an all-encompassing view of your data. While it does take some planning and execution to build out the perfect dataset, once you have that, your reporting needs are easily addressed with this platform.
Schedule Management – Smartsheet (Honorable mention to Clarizen)
I was on the fence with this being a fan of Clarizen but I have to give the nod on schedule management to Smartsheet. Smartsheet is a lightweight, cloud-based solution designed for schedule management, and so much more. Smartsheet is a great tool for building out both simple and complex project schedules with intricate dependencies and resource allocations. While it still lacks some of the more complex features that MS Project offers (ex. Resource levelling as an example), it offers a great cloud-based solution that allows for quick and easy sharing, collaboration and updating of a project plan where multiple stakeholders are involved. The price is right too, Smartsheet offers limited functionality for non-licensed users (provided that the plan is created & owned by a licensed user) where input and updates can be solicited from non-licensed users (i.e. customers). Smartsheet also offers a great dashboarding feature which shows data updated in real time. Being lightweight, cloud-based, easy to use and priced right, Smartsheet is an easy favorite for managing project schedules.
There’s Part 1 of my dream technical footprint for running a PMO. Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll round out my list of favorite systems for delivering projects.