Flexible management: Or managing through projects portfolio

Most of companies’ processes are repeatable; thus, they may be automated in a lower or higher degree. However, during the development certain unique and one-time processes or processes based on multiple parameters and variants occur. Those processes are managed by the projects.    

What should one do when coordination between separate projects is needed or when an overall management of the projects, not necessary linked with each other, is required?

It is wise to consider the implementation of Project Portfolio Management (PPM). One of the leading IT solutions supporting project portfolio managing is a SAP solution, called Resource and PortfoSlio Management (RPM). StatOil Hydro, BP, Nestle, and Coca-Cola are companies which implemented the project management. As a result of SAP RPM usage, their expenses are reduced, they are more focused on business value, their risk management is more efficient, they achieve goals more often, they estimate priorities more precisely and they choose those priorities quicker. Moreover, these companies optimize the decision-making processes concerning the allocation of resources. PPM implementation allows also to eliminate less profitable projects so that the resources and means released may be used in more valuable initiatives.      

How does SAP RPM work?

SAP RPM software automates and standardizes project management and project portfolio processes in a company. SAP RPM allows also a quicker response to crucial questions concerning the processes of project portfolio management such as:

  • Are we carrying out the right project?
  • Are we investing areas in accordance with our company’s strategy?
  • Do we possess required resources to carry out the tasks?
  • What will be the results (budget, resources usage) of carrying out a given set of projects?

Within the implemented SAP solution we receive a thorough support for managing resources and project portfolios in a given business environment.    

Frequently, there are several stages in the process of project portfolio managing. Below some of the stages supported by SAP RPM are enumerated:   

  1. Project Initialization
  2. Project Planning
  3. Resources Management
  4. Project Implementation
  5. Portfolio and Project Monitoring
  6. Evaluations and Analyses
  7. Administration

Project Initialization

Project initialization is performed by a portfolio manager or a product manager. It involves entering a project request or idea into the system and then describing it in detail. Subsequently, the individual project requests are prioritized. Decisions are made at regular intervals depending on adopted priorities. When a given request is not approved of it is deferred or rejected outright.

Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:

  • Entry of project requests or project ideas and assigning to a specific portfolio bucket
  • Automatic assignment of a unique project number upon creation
  • Differentiation between various project types
  • The option to define individual fields as mandatory entry fields
  • Classification of the entered requests and ideas
  • Scoring of the project request using predefined questionnaires, for example accordance with company strategy or probability of success
  • Rough schedule planning for the project using a phase model

Project Planning

After the project request has been approved, the project manager is determined by the portfolio manager and assigned

to the project. He structures the project on a phase-oriented basis and determines the scheduling situation for individual tasks. The project manager also describes resource demands in terms of both quality and quantity and sends resource requests to the resource manager. He assigns authorizations flexibly to individual project team members in the individual

project areas. The project manager can use different versions to historicize different planning statuses. In the event of changes to the operational project, he can track what was changed, by whom, and when.

Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:

  • Detailing of the project plan using phases, work packages, tasks, subtasks, and milestones
  • Maintenance of relationships between individual tasks and subtasks
  • Defining costs and incomes
  • Bottom-up and top-down scheduling of the project plan and also forward and backwards scheduling
  • Representation of the project plan in graphical view in a form of Gantt chart
  • Description of resources in terms of quantity (hours per week) and quality (userdefined text, selection of predefined qualifications)
  • Assignment of resources to individual work packages and planning of the corresponding workload
  • Assigning documents to every system objects
  • Use of project templates and predefined checklists 

Resources Management

The resource manager controls resource requests and assigns resources to project requests. If the personnel data is managed through a central database, the resource manager can make a direct assignment according to different criteria.

  • Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:
  • Central maintenance of internal and external project resources
  • Maintenance of the availability of project resources, and if necessary, integration with existing personnel systems
  • Setup of a qualifications catalogue with qualifications for individual employee groups 
  • Assignment of resources to individual departments
  • Resource search, taking into account employee availability and qualifications
  • Project Implementation

During project implementation, the project manager releases the individual phases together with their activities one after the other. During this process, he triggers the automatic creation of cost objects in the SAP ERP system. The employees assigned to the tasks receive an overview of the tasks they need to complete. They can maintain the current processing status and enter results in the form of documents. The employees can also use a work list to provide a time confirmation, which makes it possible to compare planned and actual hours and costs.

Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:

  • Automatic creation of cost object (CO or SAP Project System order) in the SAP ERP system
  • Approval of individual phases (optional) including an approval workflow
  • Access to task lists of the employees
  • Maintenance of percent of completion and actual start and end times for given tasks
  • Portfolio and Project Monitoring

Representatives responsible for all or part of the portfolio or the individual portfolio managers monitor the portfolio. This monitoring involves continuous comparison of the approved planned project values and the actual values and includes both financial planning and resource demand planning.

  • Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:
  • Clear and easy-to-understand view of current projects for the entire portfolio or individual subareas in the form of dashboards
  • Definition and constant monitoring of key success factors in the areas of budget, employee workload, and project progress
  • Automatic alerts in the event of missed deadlines or exceeded budget
  • Graphic display of the scheduling situation for any number of projects in a multiproject Gantt chart

Evaluations and Analyses

  • Employees engaged in Portfolio and Project Monitoring may run analysis in the form of reports both in real time and on predefined dates. 
  • Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:
  • Evaluations on all projects in a portfolio or subarea with regard to current status, number of active phases, and their percentage of completion
  • Ratio of the number of active and inactive projects
  • Financial and capacity analysis of the entire portfolio or of individual subareas with the option to compare different versions
  • Consumption of all resources or workload of employees in a resource pool
  • Monitoring of key success factors


A person who is responsible for the entire portfolio and an employee from the Project Management Office (PMO) perform the administration of the project portfolio management solution. In portfolio management, you can create portfolios and subareas and assign access rights. You can also create portfolio’s structure which can be organizational unit–oriented or product group–oriented.

Selected SAP RPM functions support activities in this area:

  • Definition of portfolios and portfolio buckets
  • Definition of year-related settings (for example, for financial planning)
  • Assignment of authorizations for individual users or specific user roles
  • Creation of resource pools and assignment of resource managers

The article outlined a project portfolio management scenario. Although short in form, the article meant to present SAP RPM’s broad scope of possibilities and the enormous amount of stored and processed information and data .   

SAP RPM solution may be used independently or it may be an integrating application for various aspects of project managing.  

SAP RPM may be fully integrated with SAP CRM (Customer Relationship Management), SAP SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), SAP HCM (Human Capital Management), cProjects and cFolders, and above all else with financial-controlling modules from SAP ERP system. Due to SAP NetWeaver platform, an integration with different producers’ systems is possible.  

While searching for project and portfolio managing application one should consider the integrated solution provided by SAP RPM with other SAP system modules. As a result of implementation of such a set the leaders of numerous lines of business gain a significant advantage over their competition.  

SAP Resource and Portfolio Management (SAP RPM) is a solution created for project portfolio managing available since 2002. It is a part of xApps—Cross Applications set based on SAP NetWeaver platform. Currently RPM 5.0 is the valid version.



Adam Sobkowicz—Senior SAP PS/IM Consultant in SI-Consulting S.A.

Adam Sobkowicz has an 8-year experience in managing and implementing SAP PS (Project System) module. His is interested in project portfolio managing issues and organization of large and comprehensive project tasks. Mr. Sobkowicz gained his experience in an investment department and later on in an PS/IM module implementation team where he was a manger. Moreover, Mr. Sobkowicz was a key user of SAP PS/IM module in Energetyka Wrocławska. Currently, as a consultant, he cooperates with EnergiaPro on further development of SAP PS system. Mr. Sobkowicz also implements SAP PS/IM (Investment Management) in Zelmer S.A. (Inc.) and production and construction projects management in PPW Araj.