R&D teams often try to compare our offering to the many visualization/business intelligence tools available today. At conferences and sales calls, we hear some variant of: “Why should I use Enrich when we already have a site license for Tableau (or Spotfire, Qlik, Cognos, or another BI — business intelligence — tool) at my company?” Were you thinking something similar? Then this blog post is for you!

Tools like Tableau focus on data exploration, and allow you to build various charts to explore a dataset. They are general tools that allow you to construct bubble, bar, and line charts (and many others). However, by themselves, they aren’t up to the more specific, more demanding tasks involved in portfolio management.

If you review the essential activities associated with portfolio management in the diagram below, it will quickly become clear that portfolio management is about more than data exploration. The Enrich Analytics Platform is uniquely suited to provide the analytical, information management, and visualization capabilities necessary for confident, real-time portfolio management.

 Only a best-in-class portfolio management tool like the Enrich Analytics Platform enables the essential activities of portfolio management

Only a best-in-class portfolio management tool like the Enrich Analytics Platform enables the essential activities of portfolio management

You Need Integrated Valuation, Data Validation and Auditing

A confidence-building portfolio management process is based on transparent, well-understood project valuations, housed in a database that provides a single source of truth for the entire portfolio process. BI tools lack the financial, R&D, and market models—often employing Monte Carlo simulation methods—necessary to build the valuations themselves. They also lack the data management capabilities needed to stage, approve, and lock data for the various decision-making steps in project and portfolio management processes.

The Enrich Analytics Platform consolidates and stores project data from multiple sources (HR, Finance, Commercial, R&D), performs market and financial simulations to generate R&D and finance-relevant metrics, and allows scenario, variance, and sensitivity analyses to be run on a single asset, a product line, or on the entire portfolio. All of these analyses are available directly through visualizations that let users run and rerun the analyses in real-time.

Because BI tools only provide a visualization layer, without the underlying data management and analytics, you’ll be at a disadvantage in every portfolio review meeting, unable to

  • Perform sensitivity analyses to uncover critical risks and uncertainties
  • Perform scenario analyses at the project level, creating buy-up and buy-down options for the most important assets
  • Perform scenario analyses at the portfolio level, exploring plan B options if key assets fail, layering in new partnerships and acquisitions, or comparing and contrasting investment strategies
  • Perform variance analyses to discover the most important project and portfolio changes since the last review
  • Drill down into each valuation and inspect the inputs that lead to sales and cost forecasts
  • Immediately recall the provenance of each project’s data, including who has changed which inputs, and their impact on project cost, schedule, risk, and opportunity

The security of all these data is also paramount. The Enrich Analytics Platform allows you to tailor permissions with multiple user roles and permissions groups. Each team member will have access to only those projects, portfolios, and views they are authorized to see. Likewise, project creation and updating activities have similar permissions controls in place.

You Need Instant Drill-Down to Reveal Relevant Division and Project Details

As we’ve discussed in other posts, portfolio management might begin at the top-level of the dataset, but executives will quickly dive down into the details of specific divisions, projects, or activities, only to come back to the top level and dive down elsewhere in the data. If your BI tool can’t immediately provide project details, or financials and key metrics at each level of the organization (to give just two examples) with a click or two, you won’t be able to keep up with the executives’ questions during the portfolio review.

You Need to Do More Than Sort and Filter

Tableau and similar tools might perform addition and subtraction, but that doesn’t mean they’re up to the analytic tasks of portfolio management: They lack prioritization and optimization capabilities, let alone the Monte Carlo simulation enabled by the Enrich Analytics Platform.

Portfolio prioritization, done in real-time with the Enrich Analytics Platform

Portfolio prioritization, done in real-time with the Enrich Analytics Platform

With the Enrich Analytics Platform, you can build productivity metrics on the fly and use them in efficient frontier charts. You can also save each prioritized or optimized portfolio as a scenario, compare them, and fine-tune them further to create an investment plan that comes closest to meeting multiple, competing strategic goals.

You Need to Make, Record, and Remember Decisions

Once you’ve identified an investment plan, you need to lock it down and assign funding to a set of initiatives, together with a set of goals for each initiative and for the portfolio as a whole. Using the Enrich Analytics Platform, you’ll have the opportunity at the next review to revisit these decisions and compare results to aspirations. Activities like these are not designed for visualization-only tools like Spotfire or Tableau.

BI Tools Might Deliver More Charts, But Not Necessarily the Ones You Need

Finally, the charts you’d build with a BI tool wouldn’t benefit from Enrich’s 15 years of experience building portfolio management systems and facilitating portfolio reviews. Tools like Tableau are actually too flexible, because they don’t steer you towards the most useful reports for portfolio management and asset valuation.

If you were an expert Tableau programmer, you could sift through the myriad charts on offer and build some of the charts we employ in the Enrich Analytics Platform. But you couldn’t build them all (for example, it would be difficult to integrate a Gannt chart view into table, as we do in many of our reports, or to build a news chart with upcoming events). It would also be challenging to provide the necessary level of interactivity, pulling projects in or out of the portfolio, performing scenario analysis, etc., all within the same graphical interface.

We’ve worked hard to develop an easy-to-use interface for real-time portfolio management that enables anyone to build and share their own views, drag and drop dashboards in seconds, and drill down to the division, product line, or individual initiative level to review all relevant financial and operational details. If you’d like to learn more about what a purpose-built environment for best-practice portfolio management looks and feels like, reach out and we’ll schedule a test-drive for you.