Organizations usually start working with project portfolio management (PPM) software when they’re:

  • Managing a range of projects at a scale that standard project management software can’t handle
  • Looking to select, prioritize, and analyze these projects based on a larger business strategy 
  • Interested to see how various projects affect each other, in terms of capacity, resources, and task dependencies
  • Open to automating parts of their project management processes, to increase their business efficiency

If this sounds like you, PPM software will be the right fit. It’s built to help you meet your strategic goals, while giving you complete oversight over all your projects. 

In this guide, we share some of the top project portfolio management software options out there, starting with Wrike. Our platform has been top-rated by Gartner as a PPM tool, beating competition from the likes of Smartsheet, Microsoft Project, and Workfront. 

But first, we share three essential capabilities you should expect from your PPM software. 

3 capabilities you need from PPM software

When organizations scale, they reach a point when they outgrow basic project management tools. A portfolio of projects brings a range of different priorities and concerns.

So, what more do you need from PPM software? 

At a minimum, it should offer these three capabilities:

  1. It should give you (and your teams) visibility over every project, in a way that works for you. The trouble with most project management software — and even some PPM tools — is that they get cluttered when you scale. Your project management office (PMO) needs clear oversight of the details of every project in your portfolio. Meanwhile, team members require certainty on their specific tasks and workflows. Your PPM software should provide both, while being customizable enough to meet the unique needs of your organization. 
  2. It should provide robust reporting into your strategic goals as well as your project progress. Without deep data on your resource use, team capacities, and task progress, your project planning and management can fail. For this reason, PPM software should provide total clarity on project data as well as your key business objectives. Data shouldn’t just be at the project level either, but at the level of the whole portfolio. 
  3. It should offer improvements in efficiency through AI-powered automation. Whenever you’re working across large portfolios of projects, finding opportunities for greater efficiency is good for your workload and your organization’s finances. Look for PPM software that makes use of AI, which can help you identify and automate repetitive, manual processes across all your projects.

How do PPM tools stack up against these three capabilities? In the rest of this guide, we share four software options, starting with Wrike. 

Wrike: The best project portfolio management software overall

screenshot of wrike webpage

Wrike is a work management platform that’s built to help teams collaborate better. Unlike most project management tools, we designed it to handle all your work — not just individual projects — at the scale that you need. 

That’s just one reason why it’s trusted by some of the world’s largest companies, including Walmart Canada, Siemens Smart Infrastructure, and The Estée Lauder Companies

Wrike provides a single source of truth for your organization’s project portfolios, while supporting every team member to do the work they need to get done. For PPM managers who’ve outgrown standard PM software, it’s one of the most robust, customizable alternatives out there. 

Here’s how it shapes up against the capabilities we shared above.

Wrike makes project portfolios easy to track and manage at scale

While most basic project management solutions don’t scale well, even some tools billed as PPM software are unintuitive and don’t provide the visibility you need.

On the other hand, Wrike is built to make it easy to get clarity when working at scale, for both portfolio managers and team members. With Wrike, you can:

  • Customize projects, portfolios, and workflows to match the way you work. With Wrike, you can structure your portfolio in the way that suits you. Organize work with folders, projects, subtasks, and more, or create custom item types for unique resources or tasks. 
  • Give team members all they need with customizable dashboards. Customization shouldn’t just be for project managers. Team members can visualize their own workflows through Gantt charts and Kanban boards, as well as through their own to-do lists. It provides them with a personalized view of everything going on in their workspace.
  • Understand how different projects relate with cross-tagging. Wrike’s unique cross-tagging feature enables you to see how tasks relate across projects without duplicating them. It provides unmatched clarity at scale.

product screenshot of wrike cross-tagging on aqua background

With its 5,700 employees working across different countries, Sony Pictures Television wanted software that could handle a vast number of projects while giving all stakeholders a personal view of their work.

It turned to Wrike, which offered exactly that. Overall, Wrike helped Sony take 40% less time to deliver projects, while reducing the number of emails sent by 90%

Cheryl Venable, Senior Manager of Operations for the Creative Center at Sony Pictures Television, says:

“I’ve never seen a tool as easy to use, as easy to onboard new users, as easy to scale, and as easy to customize to your own workflow, process, team, clientele, and changing environment. So much of Wrike’s flexible structure allows us to apply our own flavor to it. Many other enterprise-level tools only succeed for six months and then blow up, but we get so much more out of Wrike.”

sony pictures television quote from cheryl venable

Wrike gives you deep analytics into project performance, portfolio health, and business goals

As well as helping your teams to do work, project portfolio management tools should help you understand how that work is progressing. Robust reporting and deep analytics — into both individual projects and the whole portfolio — are therefore a must.

With Wrike, you can:

  • Plan for and manage your portfolio resources to avoid bottlenecks. Estimate resource needs and determine budgets for specific projects, while ensuring that high-priority projects have the coverage they need. 
  • Keep an eye on deep, real-time data from across your portfolio. Many project management or basic PPM solutions limit your reporting to individual projects. With Wrike, on the other hand, you can use business intelligence and advanced analytics to understand the performance of your entire portfolio. 
  • Monitor team performance and capacity. A key part of resource management functionality is to understand your teams’ labor hours. Wrike provides time tracking to let you calculate hours spent per project, as well as workload charts so you can see which staff members have capacity for more work. 
  • Track your business goals and progress towards them. Project portfolios should help your organization meet its KPIs and larger strategic goals. Wrike’s dashboards help you see your progress toward these goals, using data and metrics from across all your projects.

product screenshot of wrike dashboard on aqua background

Walmart Canada serves 2.4 million customers across 400+ stores nationally, as well as online. In March 2019, Walmart’s Continuous Improvement team was formed to improve efficiency within the transportation department. 

The team turned to Wrike to streamline requests, track live data into project portfolios, and prove every project’s business impact. Nicole Fakhri, Manager of Continuous Improvement, says:

“We have a bird’s-eye view of what we have achieved across the entire team. We can track the actual savings we are incurring and how much CO2 emissions we’re reducing. Whatever it is that we’re trying to track, it’s so helpful to be able to see it at the project and portfolio level.”

nicole fakhri walmart canada quote

Wrike deploys AI automation to drive your portfolio’s efficiency

At scale, automation can help both your PMO’s workload and your projects’ budgets. With Wrike, you’ll have the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) to help you automate and optimize key processes across your portfolio. 

Wrike lets you:

  • Automate entire workflows. For instance, with Wrike, you can create dynamic intake forms, which will automatically set up a project workflow based on the information submitted. Wrike’s system will assign tasks, define dependencies, and notify colleagues, so you can plan the project from start to finish. 
  • Define trigger-based automations. Automate tasks, projects, or custom item types depending on your unique processes. You can apply rules across all projects or portfolios in your organization or limit them to specific departments.
  • Integrate automations across different tools. When organizations are using tens of different tools, it doesn’t make sense to limit automations to your portfolio management solution. Instead, Wrike automates processes across your different app integrations, including Slack, QuickBooks, Jira, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more. 
  • Use AI to find opportunities to automate repetitive tasks. Wrike’s Work Intelligence® solution uses AI to track tasks you perform most commonly. Based on this data, it suggests opportunities for automation that you might have missed, so you can secure further efficiencies. 

Automating tasks in Wrike

Siemens Smart Infrastructure was looking for a team collaboration tool that could help it reduce labor time on a global scale. The company turned to Wrike to help to automate its project delivery. Our software is now used by 14,000 Siemens employees in over 20 countries. It’s helped them to improve productivity across their projects by 10%

Christina Fischer, Global Product Manager at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, says:

“We use an integration with our SAP system. Once a project is booked, the project is automatically created in Wrike with the right project template and filled with data. Then in Wrike, we have an automatic assignment of the project manager, who is also set in SAP.”

siemens quote

3 alternative project and portfolio management software tools

Every organization is different. While we’ve built Wrike to be as customizable as possible, other tools may be a better fit for you. 

Here are three more PPM tools to help you find the right choice.

1. Acuity PPM: Best lightweight option 

Acuity PPM homepage
Image source: Acuity PPM

Acuity PPM is a portfolio management software that’s mainly used by teams that are just starting out with PPM. It’s designed to be lightweight and quick to implement. However, that means it may not be as capable as more robust tools like Wrike.  

If you compare many project management tools — such as Smartsheet or — you’ll notice that they’re often built around a spreadsheet format. This helps with the potential learning curve, but these kinds of tools are often really limiting at scale.

Just like Wrike, Acuity PPM offers an alternative to these spreadsheet-based PPM tools. As such, it’s much easier to get visibility over all your projects, without having to navigate the clutter of cells and their associated formulas.

Part of what makes Acuity PPM unique is its modular structure — namely, you can pay just for what you use. This can offer financial flexibility for smaller organizations. However, prices do add up quickly. For example, if you want resource and capacity planning, you’ll have to be on the more expensive Plus plan. Meanwhile, integrations are only available on the Enterprise plan. As such, if you’re an enterprise that wants all PPM features, this modular structure is largely irrelevant. 

Another drawback about Acuity PPM is that there are currently no AI features. That means that opportunities for automation are limited. 

2. Runn: Best for resource planning and PPM

Runn homepage
Image source: Runn

Runn is a resource planning and management tool that is often used by PPMs. 

Its primary task is to offer a view of resource capacity. It gives you the tools you need to plan project resources in advance. Then, throughout the project, it provides critical insight into which people, skills, and tools are available and when, so you can ensure portfolios aren’t held back by a lack of resources. 

While resource management is its strength, Runn also excels at reporting on the financial aspects of your projects too. For example, it makes it really easy for you to build projects around costs and forecast timelines based on those costs.

One thing to be aware of is that, when it comes to tracking project statuses, Runn’s features are a little weaker. It does offer Kanban and milestone timelines, but there are no Gantt charts at all. As such, you can only get limited visibility on the tasks affecting project delivery. 

That said, Runn’s API does offer the opportunity for integration with lots of other tools. So, if you need Gantt charts, for example, you may be able to integrate your resource data from Runn with an external Gantt software.

3. Quickbase: Best PPM for customizable app development

Quickbase homepage
Image source: Quickbase

Quickbase offers a vast array of different work tools, including a project portfolio management solution. It’s highly customizable and can be integrated with data streams from any other platforms you’re working with.

What’s unique about Quickbase is that it allows you to build your own software solutions with its custom app builder. While this might sound scary to people without tech experience, development with Quickbase is “low code,” meaning you don’t need to be a developer to do it. Thanks to this, you can customize your entire setup from scratch, so that it provides exactly the visuals and data you need. 

If you don’t want to develop your own app, Quickbase has basic tools that you can use instead. For instance, it has standard Gantt and Kanban charts, as well as reporting tools to give you insights into the performance of all your projects. Plus, Quickbase integrates with a range of tools, including Wrike.

Choose Wrike to manage your project portfolios

We’ve covered some of the key capabilities you need from your PPM software, including scalability and custom visibility over projects, robust reporting, and automation tools. These are essential features if you want to upgrade from your standard project management platform. 

If you’re looking for robust and customizable PPM software, choose Wrike. When it comes to customization and automation, it’s unmatched among project portfolio management tools.