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How A CRM Platform Can Help Your Project Manager Work More Effectively

How A CRM Platform Can Help Your Project Manager Work More Effectively

A CRM is one of the most powerful tools in any project manager’s kit, centralizing customer data and organizing it in ways it can be analyzed.

Your company may be working on a project to develop a new product or service, but that’s not really what the project is about.

There may be another team within your company somewhere trying to upgrade your billing system. It’s not really a billing system project, though.

Even when you’re planning to host a conference or webinar, you’re not focused on an event project.

Every worthwhile project within your company is really a customer project.

The work you’re doing should be about solving more of your customers’ problems, or addressing their unmet needs and wants.

Other important projects may be about removing friction that customers typically experience along the journey they take with you, whether it’s placing an order or following up with service and support questions afterwards.

In all cases, these projects should help deepen and enhance the quality of the relationship between your company and each of its customers. That’s why a CRM is one of the most powerful tools in any project manager’s kit.

For a long time, it was up to project management professionals to figure out how to organize all the information they needed to navigate. The tools were often extremely simple, from basic spreadsheet applications to an ever-growing number of sticky notes that got plastered around their desktop monitors.

In some cases project managers had to double as a kind of company detective, trying to solve the mystery of where people in other departments had stored important data. Digging through systems siloed in sales, marketing or customer service departments can take away a lot of time that project managers could spend on making real progress on an initiative or milestone.

CRM platforms may have started off as technology to empower sales reps (and they still are!), but they hold just as much value for PMs. That’s because they centralize all customer data and organize it in ways it can be analyzed and made valuable to your company. That means you can turn to them no matter what framework you’re using, such as Agile, Lean or Six Sigma.

Let’s walk through some of the typical phases of project management and where a CRM platform can add value:

1. Planning And Initiation

Sometimes just deciding whether or not a project is necessary is the most critical step. Those discussions can be easier when there’s data to inform them.

Before you develop a new product, for example, the company might want to consider whether it will resonate with the market. The clues could be in your CRM platform’s sales data about your existing portfolio, as well as data about the typical time it takes your customers to move from awareness to consideration and purchasing.

Other sales or customer feedback data in the CRM could help clarify whether you should begin a project to enter a new geographic location. It could build confidence in a project to hire a new team of employees, or even a project to move to a hybrid work model.

Once you’ve initiated the project, your CRM can also assist with planning the workback schedule, the same way you might plan a sales campaign to win over a big customer.

2. Assigning Stakeholder Roles

When companies are competing for a large contract, a CRM platform can help bring together many different players across the sales team, from the account managers to sales development reps, and more. Project managers can use a CRM in much the same way to ensure it’s clear who will be doing what across every department.

Some projects will span marketing, sales, customer service, IT, HR, and other areas of operations. Though their tasks may differ, the one thing these stakeholders will often have in common is the need for a single source of truth about customers. That’s the definition of the best CRM platforms, so take advantage of it to unify the teams that bring projects to life.

3. Breaking Down Special Vs. Recurring Tasks

The most critical projects are often multifaceted, and involve a mixture of tasks to reach the desired goal. If you’re planning that new product launch, for instance, you’ll want to make sure your existing customers know about it. A recurring task might be to have the marketing or sales team add customers to an e-mail list as they make a new purchase or renew their contact.

Using a CRM platform in this way not only brings greater visibility into all the pieces that make a project run, but potentially identify opportunities for further automation. If the number of recurring tasks is large, for instance, there may be tools that could take away manual work and allow team members to focus on the special tasks that require greater time and attention.

4. Tracking Milestones And Managing Progress

CRM platforms aren’t just repositories of data where information sits idle. Some of the most valuable features include their reporting capabilities, which can be especially beneficial for project managers.

As tasks and sub-projects get completed, for instance, project managers won’t be hunting down stakeholders to ask about their milestones. The information can be reported automatically, and creating greater transparency across the company about where any bottlenecks remain. Getting things done on time can be as important as getting them in on budget, or completed at all.

5. Post-Project Analysis

Some projects never fully end, but evolve into new ones. Even so, project managers can step back at the appropriate time and use the data in their CRM program to evaluate their success. Are projects weaving seamlessly into employees’ existing workflows? Are the results having a positive impact on customer relationships? Are projects being executed in a way that demonstrates continuous improvement? These are all questions your CRM platform can answer.

When project managers can do their best work, they can further the entire business on its path to growth. Taking advantage of a CRM platform will set them up to be as productive, efficient, and effective as possible.

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