HP broadens scope of project management software

Hewlett-Packard has updated its PPM software to manage non-IT projects as well

With the new update of its Project and Portfolio Management software, Hewlett-Packard is broadening the potential scope of the software to manage all organizational projects, not just IT projects.

"We've historically sold [HP Project and Portfolio Management software] to the IT groups, but we found that a lot of customers were using it as a true enterprise project and portfolio management system," said Bruce Randall, HP director of product marketing for project and portfolio management.

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To better serve this expanded user-base, HP PPM 9.1, released Monday, includes a number of new features and modules aimed at sating the curiosity that organizational executives and high-level managers have about the success of their projects.

PPM software helps manage a difficult task, keeping track of complex projects. Analysts have estimated that around 68 percent of most software projects fail to meet their goals, and their managers typically take the blame for this shortfall.

PPM software, which generates $3.5 billion in annual sales a year according to IDC, can help flag potential weak spots of a project development plan. It keeps tabs on whether the project development is meeting the deadlines, how much money and other resources are being expended, and other aspects. Managers can access this data through dashboards, reports, or with custom queries.

Version 9.1 of HP's PPM software includes two new modules aimed squarely at general PPM management: an executive scorecard and another for financial planning and analysis. The executive scorecard is a dashboard with predefined cross-industry metrics that "allows executives to see and identify issues at a high level," Randall said.

The software comes with a number of other new features as well. The palate of user controls has been expanded, allowing users to filter and sort queried tables. The user interface has been updated. The line editing capability within the Project Work Breakdown Structure has been improved, allowing users to better detail the status, resources and tasks for any given project.

In resource management, a manager can now commit resources to a project without specifying which specific resource will do the work, which helps in the planning process. So a manager may commit 5,000 hours of developer time to a particular project that may take place later in the year, without needing to specify which developers would actually carry out the work.

This feature gives managers "the ability to look at all the things they can invest in, so they can prioritize projects and see where the bottlenecks will be from a resource perspective," Randall said.

The new version of PPM has also been integrated with HP's Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) software, which can provide useful information about how well software being developed is doing to meet its requirements.

PPM version 9.1 is available now. Customers on active maintenance are allowed to get the upgrade for free, though specific modules, such as the executive scorecard, will cost extra.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's email address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com.

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