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

Ryan Plourde
| 3/30/2016

In part one on this topic, we discussed the pros and cons of a basic CRM system as well as a dedicated or stand-alone project management system for managing project delivery. Now we’d like to share the good news about the advantages of an integrated CRM/PM solution such as Crowe Project Management for Microsoft Dynamics® CRM

Why an integrated project management solution?

As we discussed in Part 1, your CRM system is designed to, and hopefully does a good job of keeping track of all your customer information gathered from first contact through closing of the sale. Because you have already accumulated this valuable information, it only makes sense to use it in the follow-up project management. Successful project management is dependent on various factors, not the least of which is accurate information about your customers. Because you already have this valuable information in your CRM system, with an integrated project management solution, there is no need to gather and enter it again. This will save time, of course, but equally important, it will guard against the risk of error.

After a sale is completed, the follow-up implementation project can immediately be initiated using the same software and the same data that was entered during the sales cycle. Unique information pertaining to the project can now be added. Probably specific data and all updates will be entered by the project team leader and by key team members. This preserves data accuracy and assures that it is available to the entire team. Customer expectations, progress in terms of task, scope, milestones, costs and calendar goals are accurate and accessible to all stakeholders.

Also advantageous is the fact that with an integrated CRM/Project Management system that allows the project team access to customer data that was captured in the CRM during the sales cycle (including notations made by the sales team, emails exchanged with the customer, records of phone calls and meetings, and price quotes discussed during the sale) the project implementation team will not have to repeatedly contact the customer to obtain information that was already given to the sales team. Certainly this is a plus for the customer but it also benefits the implementation team as they can proceed efficiently with the project.

An integrated solution can be flexible

An integrated CRM/ PM is of value to a broad range of businesses whose common characteristic is that they sell services or products, the delivery of which is project based. Their services or products have an overall budget, are produced separately or as individual blocks, and their production has a definite start and end time and can be broken down into related but discrete tasks. Integrated software ensures that deliverables are produced within those parameters and that the entire project is completed on schedule and within budget. The integrated solution can also track time entry and keep track of hours, and how they are spent, for billing and cost accounting purposes.

The integrated CRM/ PM system is successful because it is an intuitive, easy to use solution that manages the entire customer relationship from first lead contact to completion of deliverables. It doesn’t require a specialized project management qualification to use it – users can become adept in just a short time because its uncomplicated interface and its user-friendly inline editing are familiar to those already using Microsoft Dynamics CRM and tools such as Excel. They can quickly edit data while checking the project’s tasks and milestones in the data grid view without having to open individual records.

Significant benefits after projects are completed

When the project is completed, the benefits continue. Here are three ways that Crowe Project Management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps on benefitting your business:

  • Crowe Project Management preserves the data which concerns every stage of the customer relationship from first contact to project completion and makes it easily accessible to both the sales and the project teams. So, if a repeat customer instigates a new project, it can be set in motion very quickly using data previously captured. Completed projects can be saved as a template for a new project with similar parameters.

  • Crowe Project Management can give businesses a competitive advantage because a project completed for one customer can often serve as a useful template for the project of another customer in a similar business. This will save time and contribute to faster completion of a new customer’s sales cycle and faster initiation and completion of the project cycle.

  • Crowe Project Management gives a business full visibility into all of its customers’ projects, both current and completed, enabling the company to fine-tune its practices and procedures. This will lead to overall higher efficiency and lower costs and convey to your customers the fact that you really do understand their business processes and will work to their advantage.

To remain competitive, your key employees must be provided with tools that do much more than just solve a problem; they must inspire their users, facilitate their work, be dependable and reliable, and show clear advantages.  This project management tool is a powerful enhancement that delivers comprehensive project management capabilities to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM. You can easily define and manage projects with greater team visibility, associate project tasks for real-time, distributed project collaboration, and maintain scope control with pre-defined milestones so you can measure actual vs. estimated costs to keep your projects on schedule and under budget.