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A CRM Or A Project Management System: What’s Right For you?

Debating between investing in a CRM solution and a project management software? Here are factors and unique use cases to consider. Read on. ...

Every organization, every marketer, has certain milestones to mark off periodically. Mostly, these are best achieved in tandem, by the concerned teams working in collaboration and with coordination. The thing that you want to avoid at all costs when working towards clear goals and shared metrics is silos.    

One of the best solutions to prevent isolated efforts in an organization is deploying a software solution that can be accessed across teams to plan, develop, and deliver projects to clients. Now, how can you boost your internal metrics for organizational success and, at the same time, deliver on customer satisfaction goals? Do you need a CRM software or a project management solution, or both?

CRM And Project Management Software: Where They Differ

You know what a CRM software is, particularly with regard to marketing and advertising, right? It’s essentially a platform that provides a snapshot view of all your customer data in one place. This could range from customer contact information and past purchasing patterns and behavior to records of previous interactions and any issues/complaints raised. It helps streamline all the interactions with customers through tracking, recording, automation, and integration tools such as segmented emailing for your marketing campaigns. Further, through data and analytics management of your leads and past and present customer base, a CRM solution enables you to address all of your needs for marketing, sales, and customer service.

While a CRM software is intended to manage your organization-customer relationships, a project management (PM) software, as the term indicates, is intended to assist a project manager in overseeing project life cycles. Through activity planning, coordination, and communication across teams, a PM solution can take care of goal-setting and achievement for multiple projects simultaneously. It essentially streamlines project completion through the planning, design, implementation, and tracking stages. 

Thus, while a CRM tool is largely outward-looking, a PM software comes in handy to meet and implement organizational objectives and strategies.

When Is A CRM Useful?

A CRM platform, as mentioned before, is a one-stop collection of all customer-related data. If your organization is one whose success hinges on superior customer relationships at every step, then you must consider investing in a CRM solution. Based on its unique features and by finetuning it for specific needs, a CRM solution can be considered for the following use cases:

  1. Lead Management

A CRM tool helps identify the location of every individual lead and customer in the sales funnel. It also provides insights on the potential of converting a  lead into a long-term, satisfied, and paying client. You can also personalize your marketing approach for high-potential leads by segmenting email subscriber lists and targeting different customer groups. This can be achieved by parsing the data recorded and stored in your CRM.

  1. Enhancing Relationships 

An effective and holistic CRM solution enables you to offer better customer service with every process and individual project. It can guide you in continuing with your most effective sales and marketing strategies and improving your customer engagement initiatives. It essentially aids you in boosting your customer retention rates. And as we all know, it costs less to reduce your churn rates than to invest in repeated customer acquisition efforts.

  1. Customer Communication

As a marketer, you must be well aware of the efficacy and the importance of communicating with customers. But, whether you’re addressing nascent organizational needs or targeting an ever-growing customer base, it can become difficult to keep track of all your customer communication. A CRM helps you track and automate your marketing communication for different customer segments. It also helps you identify returning or disengaged customers and streamline your messages to these key groups through email integration. 

To be most effective, a CRM software needs to:

* Have a simple and user-friendly interface

* Be mobile-friendly

* Be remotely accessible

* Integrate data analytics

* Offer omnichannel support

* Integrate a marketing management module 

When You Should Consider A Project Management Solution 

A project management software, as a standard function, provides comprehensive project oversight towards successful completion. If your team or organization needs to up its game in deadline achievement or boost its productivity and efficiency rates, you should integrate a PM tool in your operations. To effectively incorporate your software, customize it for your existing processes so there is no hiccup or hurdle in its adoption.

Based on its functionalities, a PM solution can tackle the following organizational needs:

  1. Centralized Insights

With a project management solution, your teams can access a consolidated dashboard that delineates all their current and pending tasks. With a 360-degree view of upcoming deadlines, they can easily track and follow up on every project deliverable.  Also, they can access all important details within the software itself, saving them time and effort in sifting through other document sources. The result: fewer or zero missed deadlines.

  1. Assigning Responsibilities 

A PM software helps monitor a team’s performance and track members’ contributions towards common goals. Various task and time-tracking features provide a clear picture of who is working on what at every point in time. It also becomes easier for superiors to identify any bottlenecks and solve any reason for project delays before it blows up into a bigger issue.

  1. Enhanced Productivity

A PM software assists a team and individual project members in visualizing each long-term, larger goal as achievable tasks and deadlines. By consolidating these in one place, it helps the team to streamline and maintain its efforts in the short term. The software also allows a project manager to develop comprehensive templates for standard, repetitive workflows. These direct team members in proceeding from one task to the next in a predictive, organized way. 

  1. Streamlined Reporting

Ever wanted a bird’s eye view of project results, tallies, and numbers? Most PM solutions offer you complete and sophisticated analytical and data visualization tools. You can use these nifty statistical analyses and dashboards to track and collate results on individual projects or overall performance. The reports put together can be circulated internally, used for auditing, or pitched as part of external presentations.

An excellent project management software will have the following features built-in:

* Simplistic and accessible UI

* Project categorizer and delegator 

* Calendars and reminders

* Multi-user login facility

* Multi-mode support 

* Streamlined and decluttered dashboards

* Automatic notifications

* File sharing 

* Community forum

Where Do The CRM And PM Software Intersect?

Both the software share certain end objectives and features. A PM software enhances the outcome of projects and improves customer interactions, satisfaction, and relationships. Further, relevant data can be drawn from a CRM platform to drive project management. Data collected by recording customer preferences and insights drawn from a history of customer interactions can be used to augment and enhance project deliverables. 

For instance, if you know that a customer is facing issues with troubleshooting your product and has raised more than one complaint in this regard, you can develop a product guide. This project would need the insights of your sales and customer service team and be dispatched through all relevant points of customer contact. The marketing team would have to be looped in for the promotion, follow-up, and collection of feedback for the developed project. 

By leveraging the overlap in solutions provided by your CRM and PM software, you can ensure the following:

– Alignment between the sales, PM, and customer service teams 

– In-depth insights for the marketing team on the sales cycle and purchase patterns 

– Access for account managers to track project progress

– Looping the client into project tracking and overview for an effective partnership and quality control 

– Data mining and analytics to improve quality of deliverables 

– Seamless project design and implementation in response to sales leads and insights 

Wrapping Up

So, when it comes to deploying a CRM and PM software, you will have to consider your unique organizational and team needs. When you’re just starting out and need both platforms at lesser costs, you can consider investing in an integrated solution. A holistic CRM-within-project management software should also enable you to effectively make data accessible across departments and teams and bring down silos. On the other hand, if you want to fool-proof your systems and ensure quality at every point, your best bet is to keep the solutions separate and distinct and deploy them per your goals. You can also consider a plug-in for either functionality, which should serve as a short-term workaround. 

Remember, whichever avenue you opt for, the final objective must be to boost organizational productivity and success to serve your customer base all the better.

Need help with making the most of email marketing in your CRM? Reach out to us.

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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