You have a project, but you need project management tools to manage the activities, people, and resources involved in the project, do you? Managing a project all by one's lonesome is a significant challenge. You'll have to divide your time between meetings, overseeing other individuals, gathering materials, and reaching various deadlines. It's a lot to take in.
Completing all of the project goals while adhering to the limits that have been established is the major difficulty of project management. Typically, this information is described in a user or project handbook crafted at the beginning of the development process. The key restraints are the scope, time, quality, and budget. The secondary task, which is also the more difficult one, is to optimise the distribution of the necessary inputs and integrate them to achieve the goals that have been set.
There is now an assortment of automated tools for us to use for analysis, creativity, and productivity at our disposal. The distance between generalists and experts is narrowing due to technological advancements, and CRM automation is leading the charge in this regard. Since we first began setting out-of-office responses for our email, automated processes have become the preferred solution to optimising workflows. It is mostly because automating as much of the process as possible saves time.
Automating certain aspects of project management can be helpful when it comes to keeping projects on track, on schedule, and within budget. It starts early on in the project with initiation and planning. It finishes with completion (preferably on time) and review, and the program is involved in each process step from beginning to end. Even while you can review projects while they are still in progress, the decision to do so can be left up to the project manager.
Comparing the processes of project management that have been approved with those used to manage the project may be part of an examination. The right level of control for each project; having too much control takes up too much time while having too little control increases the likelihood of the project falling behind its estimated timeframe. If the project control is not successfully implemented, you should break down the cost to the company into the various faults and problems that need to be fixed.
Traditionally, project management consists of several components, including four and five different process groups for managing projects and a control system. However, the fundamental processes of project management and the stages of development will remain the same, notwithstanding the methodology or language used. The following are examples of major process groups:
- The first step is to establish the necessity of carrying out a project.
- The process of planning involves outlining every facet.
- The execution phase entails beginning work on the project.
- Monitoring entails keeping an eye on how things are going.
- Finishing up and taking stock is referred to as "closing out".
Why To Use CRM With Project Management?
Platforms for customer relationship management, or CRM, are intended to assist businesses in better managing client interactions and information by making communication more straightforward and facilitating monitoring of consumer behaviours.
Then, how does a customer relationship management system relate to project management?
Project management's objective is to ensure that projects and tasks are finished on time. It may include internal projects, the release of products, or marketing activities. You must meet your deadlines for completing your goals to maintain the trust of the customers you've worked so hard to acquire.
In a nutshell, customer relationship management (CRM) software significantly impacts project management, particularly in terms of gaining knowledge about clients and satisfying their needs.
You can perform the following by integrating a CRM platform into your project management system:
- Establish strategic alignment across product management, sales, and customer support, teams.
- Make it possible for sales and account managers to view the current stage a project has reached.
- Allowing consumers to view and provide feedback on deliverables effectively improves quality control (converting relationships into partnerships).
- Your marketing teams can be more effective by providing data about where sales leads and accounts currently stand in the customer journey (develop triggers and personalised content).
- Observe the activities of the customer while the project is in progress.
- Bring customers inside the application (create tasks, provide notes, etc.)
- It would be best to implement projects as soon as sales are made.
- Mine data to improve deliveries.
- Maintain contact management all in one place.
- Take, for instance, a modest company specialising in selling home electronic goods. Its marketing team placed a significant emphasis on developing a knowledge base that included step-by-step tutorials for installing systems.
However, there was a subject that they did not touch, and that was problem-solving. They could track customer complaints about specific products because of the customer relationship management system (CRM) they adopted. As a result, they concluded that creating troubleshooting guides would be the best way to tackle their issues.
These instructions were also made available to customer support so agents handling technical support calls could send customers links to the relevant guides. Additionally, the marketing team kept a record of who had gotten the instructions (via the CRM), and they followed up with emails requesting an update on their status (and feedback).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is CRM software used for? Customer relationship management is a strategic process that helps you better understand your customers' needs and how to meet those needs and enhance your bottom line.
A customer-managed relationship (CMR) is a relationship in which a business uses a methodology, software, apps and perhaps internet capability to encourage the customer to control access to information and ordering.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software are powerful tools for a business or enterprise to use. CRM handles the sales, marketing, and customer service information.
Any business that has sales, marketing, and billing teams. Any business that creates quotes and sends invoices. Any business that wants to increase efficiency and customer care.
The CRM cycle involves marketing, customer service, and sales activities. It starts with outreach and customer acquisition and ideally leads to customer loyalty.
What is CRM for small businesses?
A small business CRM system is software that helps small businesses organize large volumes of data, manage their relationships with customers, and streamline sales and marketing processes. All in all, it’s a nifty little tool that allows small companies to control their business workflows in a more efficient manner that enables business growth.
So, what’s the difference between a regular CRM and a small business CRM solution?
To be honest, there isn’t a definitive answer to that. There’s no set-in-stone list of things that turn a small business CRM into an enterprise-level system. However, there are a handful of features that are common between small business CRMs, and not between regular, enterprise CRM platforms.
They're easy to set up. Small business CRM solutions tend to be cloud-based. Hence, they’re significantly easier to implement and start running than enterprise-level systems, with a shallow learning curve than larger CRM systems.
They're more suitable for smaller teams. Small business CRMs can be used by as many employees as needed, but they’re built with smaller teams of under a hundred people in mind.
They're more affordable. One of the key things that CRM for small businesses offers is reasonable pricing plans and shorter subscription periods. Small business CRMs let their users pay for the solution monthly instead of making a long-term contract-based commitment. This is much more appealing to small business owners who don’t have the budget for a larger CRM.
When should small businesses implement CRM?
Today, many industries struggle because of fierce market competition. An exceptional customer experience is no longer a competitive business advantage. User-oriented products, effective communication, and immediate support are essential.
Customers want to be the main focus; they should feel important. So, starting with the first interaction with the brand and every detail onwards, we all expect to be heard, respected and satisfied. Agreed?
Agreed, and if your small business doesn’t make customers feel that way, get ready for the worst. Most likely, clients prefer rivals who establish better customer connections. That’s why you need to adopt a CRM strategy from the very beginning.
You can start off with a simple spreadsheet CRM. Then, learn how to make one in our series of posts. The first is How to build a Spreadsheet CRM: The basics, outlining all the first steps towards getting a simple spreadsheet CRM up and running. The second, How to build a Spreadsheet CRM: Advanced, explains how to add lead generation features to a spreadsheet CRM.
That being said, a spreadsheet CRM is only good when your business is still young. As soon as it starts to grow and your sales pipeline fills with more leads, a spreadsheet CRM no longer suffices.
10 Best Creams For Project Management
If your CRM does not deal with project management, you might still carry out various tasks manually. Not only can this waste a lot of time but think about the impact it must have upon project deadlines and keeping the client happy. According to recent CRM research, this is especially concerning when over 60% of businesses implement CRM to improve their efficiency. You may even wonder if you could just manage projects yourselves without a CRM. After all, you all know what you are doing, and not having to buy specialist software would save a lot of money... wouldn’t it?
Traditionalists may believe that project management is not necessary, so why use a CRM to take care of it? But, unfortunately, they don’t understand that failing to use project management is literally a false economy. It may use up to 20% of the overall contract budget but is certainly not an unnecessary expense.
It not only keeps the team working together, focused on the same targets, but also enables proactive dealing with any issues that may occur.
We have taken the time to check out the ten best CRMs for project management available, but before we get into that, let’s look at why project management is important.
Suitable for: small businesses looking for a powerful but affordable all-in-one CRM
Work[etc.] provides a CRM solution that encompasses project management and billing functionalities. Price-wise it is one of the most affordable all-in-one solutions on the market. This makes it attractive to small businesses who need a solution to fit a workforce that wears many hats.
The project management side of the CRM includes:
- Built-in project budgeting.
- The ability to attach key documents to a project.
- A clever feature that allows you to create a dependency between tasks and trigger alerts once certain tasks are complete.
Work[etc.] offers various ways of viewing a project - from Gantt charts and graphical timelines to budget and progress focused views.
Reviewers loved the range of features Work[etc.] offers for its price point and were generally happy with how it integrated with their existing software. Some small businesses were initially concerned about investing in an all-in-one solution but report that the system has paid for itself post-implementation.
Suitable for: those looking for a feature-rich CRM with a flexible modular structure and first-class customer support
Apptivo is a web-based solution comprised of over 50 ‘apps’ (modules) that businesses can pick and choose to create their own. The ‘build it yourself’ approach and affordable price point will appeal to small businesses who want to combine several business processes into a single software package - as well as project management and CRM, Apptivo offers apps for HR management, supply chain management, and financials, to name a few.
Find the right CRM for your company using this comprehensive CRM vendor directory.
Their project management app offers a comprehensive set of collaborative tools to oversee an unlimited amount of projects at once, fully interactive Gantt charts and customizable project templates. Apptivo also offers integrated project billing so that users can specify how they want to invoice for a project - whether as a flat rate, phased-based payments or total hourly rate.
Reviewers were nearly unanimous in their appreciation of the customer support and loved the software's price point. For startups who want the option of CRM, project management and potentially more covered by one solution, Apptivo comes highly recommended.
Suitable for: companies who want an easy-to-use and quick-to-implement system with a range of integration options.
SugarCRM has been offering project management functionality since back in 2007. These are available in all of SugarCRM’s product editions. While the minimum ten user license will put off the smallest organizations and early-stage startups, more established companies will find the software reasonably priced for its features.
With SugarCRM’s project management feature, companies can take full control of campaigns and how they progress. Users can easily view and track activity using Gantt charts and customizable project dashboards, share project information, collaborate fully by attaching meeting notes or store call records, and export data to other programmes such as Microsoft Project.
Reviewers liked SugarCRM’s were impressed at how easy the system was to customize - this is largely thanks to the range of third-party integrations it offers and the database of add-on apps. It also scores highly for flexibility and ease of implementation, making it ideal for those looking for a system that can evolve with changing business needs.
Insightly’s small business CRM provides a full set of project management features reasonably priced. These are fully available in the free version of the software - for up to two users - making it a perfect option for early-stage startups and sole traders who couldn’t otherwise afford it. In addition, clients can switch up or down to any of Insightly’s five pricing plans at any time, offering an unparalleled amount of flexibility for high-growth companies.
Users can view project progress using both pipeline and milestone-focused views. Insightly also doesn’t forget the basics either - the ‘recurring tasks’ feature allows people to set task alerts to recur at regular intervals to ensure regular checkups are done on client accounts. Project status reports are simple to produce and easy to view.
Reviews frequently mention how easy Insightly is to use and were full of praise for its intuitive interface and range of integration (G Suite, QuickBooks, MailChimp, Outlook…). While the reporting functionality isn’t customizable enough to meet everyone’s needs, Insightly provides a solid set of tools for companies that would otherwise be priced out of an all-in-one solution.
Podio is a CRM and project management tool provided by Citrix. It will appeal to companies looking for a robust and adaptable CRM tool that integrates well with existing software - Podio’s list of integrations includes G Suite, email, Excel and Gotomeeting, as well as the less common Zendesk, Zapier and FreshBooks.
Nail down your key project management requirements and select the right software for your team with this CRM selection survival guide
Podio offers a comprehensive set of project management features, including customizable project views, task alerts and automated workflows. API access allows those with the know-how to create their own apps and add-ons, whilst the Podio App Market offers a wide range of free pre-built apps which can expand the software’s functionality.
The flexibility this offers for a mid-market price point was praised by reviewers, who also liked the frequent updates, range of integrations, and user-friendliness of the platform. Whilst some mentioned that the reporting functionality could be more advanced, users were generally very happy with how Podio’s features met key business requirements.
Suitable for: companies looking for more of a project management focus than a CRM one.
Unlike most other systems on this list, Apollo HQ is best thought of as a project management tool with added CRM functionality rather than a CRM with added project management functionality. If you have extensive project management needs but only limited requirements for CRM, this could be the software for you.
Unusually and refreshingly, a chunk of Apollo’s development is user-led - you can vote for features you’d like to see in upcoming releases on their website. All plans offer unlimited project users, and features include time tracking, customizable task list templates and the ability to merge related projects together to reduce confusion and administrative workload.
Reviews praise Apollo’s user interface, particularly the use of tabs to switch between projects and the ability to create project shortcuts with just a couple of clicks. If you’re looking for a fully-featured CRM alongside your project management tool, this probably isn’t the system for you, but the contact management and sales pipeline tools provide a solid baseline functionality.
Zoho produces a great CRM with the ability to provide in-depth analytics; they also offer a bolt-on Projects module free of charge when you purchase the Professional and Enterprise editions. So if you already have this version of their CRM in place, all you have to do is download the Projects add-on.
Here, you will find some powerful tools such as tracking timelines, checking on the adherence to milestones, and using Gantt charts. This comes with detailed analytics and planning options and cross-team access and visibility.
Reviewers love the scope for customization Zoho offers and were positive about the add-ons on offer in Zoho Marketplace. For companies that can spend the time and resources customizing their software, Zoho can be adapted to suit their business processes perfectly.
Suitable for: ERP-using companies who want a fully-integrated project management tool
NetSuite’s SRP is unique in that it’s the only cloud solution that unites ERP and professional services automation in one software product. It’s not technically a CRM in itself - but NetSuite does offer a companion CRM product (CRM+) that integrates easily. SRP is therefore ideal for companies who need ERP but want fully-integrated project management functionality alongside it.
As with all of NetSuite’s products, SRP offers a range of powerful features, including customizable timesheets and billing and invoicing management. In addition, the project management solution aims to deliver complete visibility and control over a project, with users able to collaborate in real-time, create detailed project-level budgets and track all key financial metrics of projects they work on.
Find CRMs with project management functionality using this free online CRM comparison tool.
Reviewers liked the powerful reporting features SRP offers and found the software easy to customize and highly flexible. They were also very positive about NetSuite’s ability to seamlessly integrate front-office functions (CRM, marketing, support management) with back-office functions like accounting and project management. Of course, SRP won’t suit everyone, but it's a uniquely powerful tool for companies that need some ERP functionality and are willing to purchase CRM+ alongside it.
TaskRay Project Management for Salesforce
Suitable for: companies who use Salesforce and want to expand their project management functionalities
TaskRay is a project management solution native to the Salesforce platform. All information within the app can be tied to existing Salesforce data like accounts, opportunities, and contacts. As available on the AppExchange, TaskRay is easy to install and implement for Salesforce-using companies.
With TaskRay, project managers can visualize the data that best suits them - a range of project overview screens are available, including Kanban, calendar and Gantt chart-based views. The app also offers robust reporting features, cloneable project templates, and repeating task automation, which allow users to cut down on the administrative burden of starting a new project.
Reviewers like the visualization options TaskRay offers and how intuitive the software is to use - they were particularly impressed with the drag. They dropped and how easy it is to customize the software. Support was rated as first class.
Crowe Project Management
Suitable for: Dynamics-using companies who want extended project management functionality but don’t want to replace their CRM
Crowe Project Management (formerly AbleBridge) is a powerful add-on that expands Microsoft Dynamics from a sales-focused CRM into a project management tool. Suitable for companies of all sizes, it seamlessly takes care of project management. So whether you are the manager of the project or dealing with customer service, it will keep everyone in the picture when it comes to time-related tasks, budgets, and general progress.
Crowe Project Management allows users to convert incoming emails into a project task, assign resources from Microsoft Outlook, and offer real-time project dashboards. While managing CRM-based projects, you can also drill down into the details for a speedy resolution. Alongside this, users can automate routine processes and create customized project templates.
Project management is essential, and without it, both teams and clients can find themselves in chaos. Objectives may become muddied, resources limited, planning unrealistic, the quality of deliverable low with ultimately, the project running over in terms of both time and budget.
Effective project management keeps everything on track and provides a clear vision of where you need to be at any one time. When you know what you need to do to achieve success, getting there is so much easier, and, at the same time, a real return on investment is achieved. The result? Not only a happy team but also a happy client.
Gone are the days when scribbling notes onto a notebook stuffed in your pocket was enough. Now clients expect far more professionalism, and it is only by having one of the best CRMs for project management that you can provide this.