project management and CRM

There are plenty of “experts” out there with very strong opinions on business technology platform integrations. Try to combine the “wrong” two solutions — customer relationship management and project management software, for example — and you’re likely to be met with a kind of dismissive exasperation.

“Why would you want to combine those two things,” they’ll sneer. “CRMs are for external activities, and project management is for internal activities. They have nothing in common!”

These people are, of course, completely wrong. Maybe they can imagine a hypothetical scenario where a CRM/project management integration wouldn’t be a good fit for a particular business, but even then, it’s usually a stretch. In real-world application, this can be a remarkably useful combination of business tools.

To understand why, it helps to assume that your company already has both systems up and running. Your CRM is helping to prospect leads, manage sales, and is even providing the technology backbone for your post-sales customer support. Your project management software is, meanwhile, helping your company with the essential planning, collaboration, and scheduling activities that drive your day-to-day operations. Both systems are clearly essential, but the connections between them may not be obvious.

Finding the Connection

Why is that? Simple. Those less-than-obvious connections are likely between siloed systems. They only connect indirectly — perhaps through a shared Excel spreadsheet, interdepartmental emails, or through individual users of both systems — creating an incredibly inefficient workflow. In fact, for smaller companies this might not even seem like a workflow at all.

As companies begin to experience real growth, however, the bottleneck between these external and internal processes starts to become a real problem. It’s no longer a matter of having someone with access to both systems run a quick report. It’s now a matter of not being able to access critical information easily, and without having to rely on a gatekeeper.

With this in mind, let’s consider the benefits of connecting these two systems together. What happens when you successfully integrate your CRM and project management software together.

Workflow Unification

The most obvious benefit of CRM/project management integration is the ability to consolidate your various business activities into a single, unified platform. This means your staff will spend less time switching between systems, creating less opportunity for costly mistakes and data entry errors. It’s also much easier — not to mention less expensive — to train new workers on a single platform.

By combining all of these functions together, you create a kind of “center of gravity” for your company’s operations. The company’s focus isn’t being splintered between a half-dozen specialized applications. The CRM/project management solution becomes the system everyone uses, making it much easier and more efficient to keep track of the entire company’s activities.

Comprehensive Customer Management

One of the side effects of specialized business technologies is that they tend to only focus on one part of the business. The design team behind a new product typically has no idea what happens after their piece of the project is complete. If there’s a problem that they could help with during the sales or customer support stages, they have no way to even know about it. Project management platforms simply don’t provide visibility into the sales and support stages of the process. That’s what the CRM is for, after all.

As a result, it can be surprisingly easy for essential customer details to get lost. It’s hard to imagine a situation where a project development team wouldn’t want to know about the promises the sales team made when signing a new client, for example. At many companies, the customer support team is effectively flying blind on every ticket they receive, but that might not be the case if they had direct access to the project management team’s notes about a given customer’s unique situation.

Improved Customer Experience

To state it plainly, CRM/project management integration always results in happier customers. When they have a concern or concern — or even a serious problem — almost everyone at your company is in a position to help them resolve it. The answers are right there, just a few keystrokes away, rather than being buried in an inaccessible silo controlled by a completely different team or department.

Customers like it when companies are responsive to their needs. They like being able to get answers — from the status of a project to the shipping date of a replacement part — with the absolute minimum of hassle. This kind of enriched customer experience is difficult to accomplish without a unified company information platform.

Simplified and Streamlined Internal Processes

One of the side effects of having your company’s data siloed away under the control of different departments is that it creates a lot of unnecessary friction. Everyone has an incentive to put the best spin on their numbers, to fudge the details on progress reports, and keep sensitive information under wraps. This often results in executives and other decision makers getting a distorted view of what’s actually happening. By the time they realize there’s a problem, it’s often too late to change course.

With an integrated CRM and project management platform, this doesn’t happen. There are no data silos, and no incentive for departments to be territorial about their data. It’s all there, on a single platform, and it’s fully transparent to anyone with the right level of access. This increases accountability, encourages honest reporting, and improves collaboration. In other words, no more friction.

Want to see how a CRM and project management integration would benefit your business? Let Faye show you the possibilities. Contact us today for a free consultation about integrating software or to learn specifically about our Flare Integration for Zendesk®.