The New CA PPM: Closing the gap between demand intake and business outcomes

Q&A with Dave Sprague, product manager for CA PPM, on the latest product news

Turning traditional enterprise portfolio planning on its head, the latest version of CA Project & Portfolio Management introduces top-down road mapping. Instead of planning for months, filling out 300-field business cases only to have your idea rejected, simply sketch the high-level initiatives in minutes with drag-and-drop ease. With the business outcomes in place, you add resources, budgets and timelines as you go. Dave Sprague, product manager for CA PPM, explained in a recent interview how top-down planning helps businesses get innovation out the door faster. Here’s an excerpt. Watch the full interview here.

Q: What’s top-down planning and how is it different from traditional bottom-up project portfolio management?

A: Traditional project portfolio management follows a process of collecting incoming demand from the service desk and business cases. Estimating and prioritizing that demand. Combining the work with in-flight and ready-to-launch projects into a portfolio. And then, use some sorting technique to help select the best mix.

We see some glaring problems with that process:

  • It takes too long and it is too hard, causing what we call organizational fatigue. During a recent customer interview, they told us that their finance department wants them to include a whole bunch of information in a business case. They have to fill out 300 fields, upfront, for work that might never get approved. That’s just insane and guarantees that people aren’t going to submit ideas very often.
  • Prioritization doesn’t necessarily get you the results you want. In many cases, it’s just the opposite. When you ask the business to prioritize work, it typically says “everything is important.” But when everything is ranked No. 1, right out of the gate you have an overcommitted portfolio. The implication is that you will do it all. But no one has the resources to do it all.
  • You’re missing the key source of demand: The executives steering the business. Executives don’t fill out business cases. So, you have to sit down with them and work out business outcomes and the key initiatives that will support them – that’s a road map.

Q: How does CA PPM 15.4 help companies plan from the top down?

A: You can build a road map in minutes with our project portfolio management tool. The traditional project portfolio planning process we discussed would take months and yield the same results. In a road map, you only have to identify projects or business outcomes for the near term. The rest of the road map planning is high level because it will change over time. We help you visualize what needs to get done so you can quickly take advantage of new opportunities that may come up.

Q: More companies are extending PPM beyond IT. Is CA PPM suitable for business teams like strategic planning, facility management and marketing operations?

A: The answer is really simple, the road maps are perfect for these non-IT activities. At the core, they are simple work-orchestration tools that anyone can use with drag-and-drop ease. You can toggle between three views. There’s a timeline that allows you to visualize and sequence the work. Or you can use a simple task list of things that need to be done. These tasks come from the road map, but you manage them on a board. With the grid view, you can define how much you spend on each activity and track budgets.

Q: Are other software vendors doing what we’re doing?

A: Other vendors are doing this, but most of them are new companies selling simple road mapping tools. However, these companies are focused on product and feature road maps, mainly. The traditional PPM vendors are not really engaged here. They are still trying to improve on the portfolio management processes we defined in the early 2000s.

What’s unique with our solution is that we’re bringing road mapping to investment management for fiscally-based scenario planning. You get visibility across the company, and you can look at it by business unit or entity.

Q: What else is new in CA PPM 15.4?

A: We’ve made significant progress in making the financials more usable within the new user experience. Our primary goal is to provide additional Microsoft Excel-like capabilities. We’re also continuing to improve the data warehouse, Jaspersoft reporting, and the oData connector for CA PPM SaaS. And we’ve deepened the integration with CA Agile Central, allowing user stories to flow into CA PPM as needed.

CA PPM 15.4 is generally available on March 8, 2018.


Alf Abuhajleh markets CA Project & Portfolio Management – the leading tool for accelerating innovation.…

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