Building a business case for PPM requires a number of steps to cover all areas. For some teams the steps are straightforward or given, for others it requires more support and buy-in. Creating an outline for how to build the business case can be much like managing a project with the end goal of procuring funding for a software purchase. While not all organizations require the extensiveness of a complete business case, in many instances outlining these key components helps with implementation and adoption of a solution within the teams. Here are the key steps to building a business case framework.

Step 1. Identify Key Stakeholders

There are many roles that apply to a purchase of PPM software. The most common or obvious are executives, PMO leaders, and project managers. These are the roles that will benefit the most and also be the most impacted by a purchase.

Executive Leadership

Executives often don’t have visibility into project data or portfolio level progress without a solution in place. PPM allows them to make decisions with up to date information and see real time updates on critical initiatives. PPM can help them through improving alignment of work to business strategy, increase speed of delivery of critical projects or products, and mitigate risks through visibility and increased communication.

PMO Leaders

Middle managers or head of PMOs rely on portfolio management software to show benefits realization of the projects they take on, manage change and disruptions to the organization, and increase efficiency to yield better results with fixed resources. PMO leaders are typically highly involved in the purchase of a PPM solution and also create a compelling case for benefits of the solution both through features and functions but also organizational improvement.

Project Managers

The group often most impacted by investment in a PPM solution, project managers often have many projects they are managing at any given time, trouble getting the right resources onto their projects when they need them, or dealing with delays and complications. Many of these pains can be solved through automation and centralized collection of information and sources. Allowing project managers say and input in the process of PPM evaluation ensures their needs will be met and efficiency gains will be realized by the solution.

These are the most typical stakeholders involved in an evaluation but keep in mind there could be more. Resource managers, finance teams, developers, contractors, and business analysts are also often involved in the evaluation of a software solution because they might be impacted or stand to gain from a purchase. For a business case to be effective, it helps to have input from all stakeholders to ensure maximum effectiveness of the purchase.

2. Develop a Strategy

Procuring software doesn’t just have to mean multiple meetings and even more documentation. It can be quick with a little pre-planning. Developing a strategy, and sticking to that strategy, can keep things on track and moving in the right direction. This includes defining and evangelizing the PMO’s purpose. Aligning everything that gets decided to that purpose and reminding teams what the goals are will make decisions a lot easier. Outlining goals and expectations of team members as well as the software itself will keep members accountable while also avoiding unnecessary hold ups. Also setting the right expectation about timeline and key milestones will ensure everyone involved knows what to expect and the role they will play in the process.

3. Understand Constraints

So much has been written about the critical importance of project portfolio management in challenging times, but still typical constraints include budget and timeline. Knowing what your budget is – even if it is a range – will help to determine the caliber and extensiveness of your software options.


Software budget can be defined in a few ways but often is calculated on a per user per year basis. Knowing the number of users and the level of access or type of role will help answer inevitable questions. For example, power users like PMO leaders or admins will have a different price point than casual users such as resources or contractors that just need to input data like time or effort spent. Project managers might need different levels of control or configuration authority and could save you some money on allowing them admin access. Getting a quick understanding and count of users for different roles will help you get a budget expectation. There also are often one-time fees for implementation or support that can be accounted for in budget requests or discounting for things such as product bundling or multiple year agreements.


Sometimes not a straightforward request is timeline expectations. Software evaluations often take more time than some leaders like to think and can lead to frustration. A typical software evaluation takes six months with an additional three months for implementation and training. This timeline varies heavily depending on how smooth the process can be so having dedicated resource can severely speed up this timeline and conversely, having multiple people evaluating with partial time can lead to a much longer timeline. Establishing when you would like to have a solution in place or when you expect to realize benefits from the solution – and working backwards from there – can help you setup a realistic timeline of milestones and deliverables of your evaluation.


Feature requirements can help narrow a search and define a budget for your PPM evaluation. For example if you are looking for robust resource management and dynamic planning capabilities, you can expect to pay for functionality that supports these expectations. For project lifecycle management and simple task planning, there are a lot more options of solutions and a lower price point. Again, aligning these requirements with the goals of your PMO will put you in the right category and caliber of solution while avoiding costly re-purchase down the line.

Hit Key Milestones

There are certain milestones that are involved in PPM purchases – or all software purchases for that matter. Common milestones include market research, interviewing vendors, internal feedback, shortlisting vendors, securing funding, and finally purchasing a software. Your particular milestones might include more steps or less, depending on your requirements and the level of understanding with the broader team.

Build Your Case

A business case framework is designed to facilitate your business case and ensure it successfully meets the requirements to achieve its objective: a compelling case. A thorough business case requires research and recommendations to secure funding and approval for a new software purchase. While a comprehensive business case is not always necessary for the procurement and funding of a new software solution, it is useful in selling the solution not just to higher ups for funding requests, but also to end users for buy-in and adoption. It provides a framework for success with details about how the strategic goals align to the roll out and use. How it impacts various teams and the expected ROI of the system. It also serves to define the purpose and value of the PMO and evangelizes the use and benefit of the software long after the purchase and rollout.

Use our interactive PPM Business Case Builder to build a comprehensive case for PPM.

Explore the Business and Benefits of PPM discussed in the next installment of Mastering Project Portfolio Management to help build a stronger business case for PPM.