I’ve always found it ironic that most CRM systems don’t offer ‘out of the box’ project management capabilities. For a lot of professional services firms, managing service delivery is just as important as managing their sales pipeline. After all, managing the delivery of services once the sales opportunity is won is where the rubber meets the road for “customer relationship management” in a professional services firm.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is such a flexible platform that it provides multiple options for managing projects and service engagements once the sale is closed. Customers can choose to utilize workflows and tasks around their service deliverables, purchase a packaged
Five key aspects to focus on when integrating project management into your Customer Relationship Management strategy:
1) Leverage the opportunity information captured during the sales process and “convert” this information to a project record. This will provide continuity of information and save a considerable amount of administrative time for the project team once they receive the handoff from Sales and 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 project tasks in between those dates that will define the project. But make sure you capture the necessary information around your project and project tasks so you can 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 illustrate 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 the process of creating new projects 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 a project task’s estimated hours will also help set internal expectations for time management. It also gives you the educated insight to determine your estimate accuracy and make adjustments as necessary.
We have many customers that manage their service engagements within Microsoft Dynamics CRM - from consulting firms, software providers, to biotech companies – really any business involved in delivering professional services to their customer base.