Compuware has released Changepoint 2009, the latest version of its IT project portfolio management software.

See also: Six free project management tools

The update includes a range of improvements, including more sophisticated capabilities for planning IT investments. The system can now lay out the expense and rewards of a given investment over multiple fiscal years.

Compuware has also extended the product's features for managing and monitoring staff workloads. Users can develop "what-if" staffing scenarios and glean the ramifications of making changes.

Compuware has aslso added features like portal templates that tailor user interfaces according to an employee's role, and automatic email reporting.

Changepoint competes with products from the likes of CA and Hewlett-Packard. Oracle also recently made a significant investment in the PPM space, moving to buy Primavera, a company one analyst called "the granddaddy of project management."

But Compuware's "greatest single competitor is Excel," said Rick Moreau, director of field enablement.

Customers who haven't bought into a product like Changepoint are often reluctant to shift their work habits, as inefficient as they might be, he said. "They don't want to tackle this beast."

But this could be changing quickly. Forrester Research has forecast that the "project-based solutions" market will grow to US$6.5(£4) billion by 2010.

Changepoint customer Innovapost, a large Canadian IT services provider, has found real productivity benefits from the software since deploying it last year, said CIO Glain Webber. "We didn't really get into ROI metrics, but I can tell you we had seven or eight legacy systems that were retired because of Changepoint," Webber said. "A lot of manual systems went away."

Innovapost is not yet using the newest version of Changepoint but is looking forward to the added features, he said.