02/07/2008 by Dieter Steiger
Whether in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for PPM or in evaluations for project portfolio management tools, HP PPM (HP Project and Portfolio Mangement Center) and SAP xRPM (xAPP Resource and Portfolio Management) are always positioned as competitors. But do the specific features of these very specialized solutions justify this positioning?
What are HP PPM and SAP xRPM ideally used for?
HP PPM has more or less been exclusively designed to be used for managing IT project portfolios. When it comes to integration with software development and application lifecycle components like testing, configuration management databases (CMDB), and business process management tools (BPM), HP PPM shows its real strengths. The strong process engine of HP PPM cannot only control and drive organizational process, it can also control the technical execution of other software components and allows the integration of quality assurance measures and impact analysis steps. Traditional workflow tools rarely go beyond automating organizational flows. With HP PPM, it is possible to systematically control and track portfolio authorization and to include decision criteria from integrated application portfolio analysis. The following also need to be understood and fed back into the decision process: the impact of a project to the IT system, whether or not implementation of the existing system increases the complexity of an IT system, and if the complexity makes it impossible to make a change to the system. What is missing in HP PPM, are capabilities to thoroughly analyze a project portfolio financially.
SAP xRPM has been built to support business project portfolio analysis with financial data – not for only IT projects, but for projects of any kind. Based on information from SAP BI (SAP Business Intelligence) and SAP SEM (SAP Strategic Enterprise Management), this is readily identifiable by its architecture. The tool’s integration with SAP financial business data is SAP xRPM’s greatest advantage. SAP xRPM can access the most recent financial information from the customer’s SAP system anytime. Additionally, SAP SEM allows defining and running ad hoc financial simulations, and a “What-if analysis” can be run as part of a portfolio assessment. As opposed to HP PPM, SAP xRPM shows weaknesses in process control and in the area of specific IT portfolio analysis needs. In this area, the integration with development and application lifecycle technology is missing.
The decision for the right portfolio and project management solution normally depends on its integration with the management information and tools of the project resources. Missing integration means additional effort and challenges for the planning and execution. HP PPM and SAP xRPM deliver unique integration but into two very different areas: application portfolio versus financial information. The article “PPM – Alibi without Impact Analysis” provides further information on which functions should be covered by a portfolio and project management solution, and how different vendors with their products differentiate themselves.
The logical consequence from the above positioning could be a complementary use of both HP PPM and SAP xRPM. This way, portfolio management can profit from the strong process engine of HP PPM and the analytical capabilities of xRPM. From a technological point of view, the two solutions can ideally marry, and HP PPM provides the technological capabilities to do so. It can also integrate a lifecycle product like SAP xRPM Architecture, concepts and target use of the tools are different. For this reason, the key to a successful project portfolio management solution is to combine both tools and precisely define the requirements upfront. Only then can the combined HP PPM and SAP xRPM be designed, and failure can be prevented. HP PPM properly integrated with SAP xRPM can be PPM at its best!