Project Management Software - Integrated vs. Stand Alone: Which is Best for Your Business? (part 1 of 2)

Ryan Plourde
| 3/21/2016

 Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software solution is an invaluable tool. It will help you manage your organization’s relationships with its customers from the time they become prospects, through sales approaches, to completed purchases and follow-up for encouraging future contacts and hopefully a long, loyal customer relationship.

But what about managing sales-related deliverables? After the sale is made, can your CRM alone be relied upon to manage input from the various departments that must be coordinated in order to complete the project? Probably not. The accuracy and efficiency required to complete a project calls for a special set of skills contained in a project management solution.

In this first of two parts, we’ll look at some common business systems that are being used (probably ones that sound familiar to you) and discuss their pros and cons. In the second part, we’ll show you a better solution that will greatly benefit your business in the area of project delivery.

Commonly Used Project Management Systems

Complex projects that require input from various departments can be difficult to automate. Likely your organization uses some sort of project management system to make sure that each of the many project tasks and deliverables cycles starts and ends according to schedule and while sticking to a budget. Solutions may vary, but often you will see various software tools like Excel spreadsheets, calendar features in systems such as Outlook, or even tangible props such as whiteboards and paper reports. Methodologies vary also, some more rigidly sticking to standard project management and some less. Either way, these systems are rife with possible complications ranging from duplication of data to user error to the difficulty of keeping the disparate parts synchronized and up to date.

Because of the possible drawbacks associated with trying to coordinate various tools, departments, and personnel, some organizations will opt for using a dedicated or stand-alone project management system designed specifically for these kinds of specialized tasks.

Dedicated Project Management Systems

Projects, even small ones, often have numerous interdependent elements. Because each of these elements is critical to the success of the project, it is important that none gets lost or overlooked.  In this, the use of project management software can be significantly advantageous. Here are three ways PM software can prove helpful:

  • PM software can streamline complex processes leading to efficiency overall as well as through the various stages. Taken as a whole, these increased efficiencies can cut the cost and the time required for an individual project.

  • PM software can decrease the chance of human error. This is particularly true in the areas related to scheduling. The team can provide extensive information about the progress of the project at each stage, which can warn of potential problems such as cost overages or delays. These issues can be identified while there is time to do something about them.

  • PM software considerably increases visibility into the details of your project and its status. This will, of course, reduce stress and build your team’s confidence, again ensuring more efficient and successful completion of the project.

Disadvantages of Some Stand-alone Solutions

We’ve discussed some of the advantages of stand-alone PM systems. But there are drawbacks as well.

Project management solutions designed to accommodate even the most complex and technical of projects like highway construction, aircraft assembly or large scale machinery manufacturing, may be overkill for most businesses. They carry a degree of capability that may not be necessary and may only generate frustration when implemented for projects that could rather benefit from a simpler, more direct approach. The complexity of the software can actually discourage team members, resulting in reduced job satisfaction and lower productivity.

So, those are the limitations of a standard CRM system and also of a stand-alone project management system.  Stay tuned for part two where we’ll introduce an integrated solution that will cover both simple and complex project management of deliverables right within the software that you are likely already using.