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Portfolio-Management Software Gets A Boost

Some businesses are applying the basic financial concept of portfolio management to investments in IT and other areas, using software offered by a few small vendors or their own homegrown applications. But a deal struck between PeopleSoft Inc. and ProSight Inc. last week indicates that portfolio management may be ready for broader use.

PeopleSoft plans to integrate ProSight's Portfolios software with ...

Some businesses are applying the basic financial concept of portfolio management to investments in IT and other areas, using software offered by a few small vendors or their own homegrown applications. But a deal struck between PeopleSoft Inc. and ProSight Inc. last week indicates that portfolio management may be ready for broader use.

PeopleSoft plans to integrate ProSight's Portfolios software with its recently released PeopleSoft 8 Enterprise Service Automation software. The ESA tool automates project and people management, while Portfolios is designed to help companies choose the projects that are most in line with business objectives. Portfolios uses graphs that color-code projects as healthy, guarded, or unhealthy based on variables such as whether they're on budget and how they affect revenue. The program isn't a silver bullet. It doesn't tell managers what projects to keep and what to kill, but it can help organize investments for better decision making.

Portfolio management "is a small market about to boom in a big way," says Sharon Botwinik, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Organizations are seeing huge and dramatic cuts in their IT spending, so it's more important than ever to get better returns on investment."

Howard Rubin, executive VP at the consulting firm Meta Group, agrees. "Looking at the cultural aspect, the timing is right," he says. "The population has become conditioned to watch the market and watch investment portfolios. This is a case where the IT environment is catching up with personal behaviors."