Integrating project management capabilities into your Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation seems like a logical step for any professional services based business. However this oftentimes takes a back seat to tracking sales and marketing activities in lieu of managing the customer relationship after the sale. For professional services firms the natural evolution from marketing, to sales to ultimately managing a services engagement should put the focus of project management at the forefront of their CRM strategy. This is where the rubber meets the road for “customer relationship management” in a professional services firm. From an external standpoint, properly managing expectations on deliverables, timeframe, and budget will ultimately determine your customer’s perception of a successful customer relationship with your company. From an internal standpoint streamlining your service engagements not only helps you serve your customers in a more efficient way but it will also determine how well you will be able scale your service operations.
Five key aspects to focus on when integrating project management into your CRM strategy:
1) Leverage the opportunity information captured during the sales process and “convert” this information to a project record. This will enforce proper sales pipeline management and save a considerable amount of administrative time for the project team once they are ready to engage in the project.
2) Define the project based on your service delivery model. All projects have a start and end date with tasks in between that will define the project. Make sure you capture the project attributes you will need to efficiently report externally to the customer and internally to the resources engaged on the project.
3) You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Instill a measure of resource and time management against the project tasks that make up the project. This process needs to be simple and readily accessible. This will give you an internal gauge of each project’s status and how well you are delivering against milestones and the overall project budget.
4) Utilize project templates. Create a playbook for the different flavors of projects you engage in. Take the time to create workflows for specific types of projects and define checklists for specific project tasks – this will help facilitate internal communication and will expedite standard project creation in the future.
5) Resource utilization. Define the project team for every project and provide an easy way to capture the efforts provided by each team member. This will give you a simple way to measure actual hours vs. estimated hours for any given project task. Providing visibility into estimated hours will also set internal expectations for time management. It will also allow you to readjust your estimates where appropriate.
Being a professional services firm ourselves we can appreciate the importance of external and internal project management for the services we provide. By focusing on the internal aspects of project management you will yield the external results your customer will see and ultimately judge you on.
by AbleBridge, a