Many people know that CRM stands for customer relationship management, but Microsoft Dynamics CRM can actually do so much more than that. Microsoft has developed CRM in such a way that, with the help of add on ISVs, it can be tweaked to fit almost any application in any industry. One such industry to benefit from this has been the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry, where as a Microsoft ISV, we have been implementing Microsoft CRM based project management software. As IPM has been developed on a Microsoft CRM framework, it takes the basic CRM concepts and applies them to a very different environment. The three standout features of CRM that have a wide ranging application in many different industries are Outlook Integration, Excel Import, and Customizable lists, dashboards, and workflows. So let me illustrate just how these features are having an impact in a project management environment:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s seamless integration with Outlook has been one of the major drivers behind implementing CRM and IPM in construction environments. As so much of project management relies on email communication, most project managers spend the majority of their working day in Outlook. The integration means they don’t have to leave this familiar environment to manage their projects and access critical project information. Microsoft CRM’s emailing tracking and filing is also unlike anything currently available to other project management solutions, giving concise and easily traceable logs according to the transaction, not the whole Job – very handy in the event of a dispute or claim.
One of the battles many companies come up against when changing to a new project management software solution is that many project managers just can’t let go of their spreadsheets. Excel spreadsheets have been an important tool in project management for many years, but can also result in a fragmented and disorganized project team as they are often not easily shared between team members. The Excel Import tool in Microsoft CRM 2011 means spreadsheet data can be quickly and easily uploaded to a main database – meaning all team members have access to the most current information, but the ability to utilize some of the features of Excel is not lost.
Customizable lists, dashboards, and workflows
Finally, Microsoft CRM’s customization options mean the software can be tweaked to fit almost any industry. This means CRM is by no means confined only to CRM functions. The customizable lists and dashboards introduced in CRM 2011 work incredibly well in a project management sense, where someone overseeing a project can see, at a glance, all the information they choose about the project. This way they can easily see RFI’s that haven’t been answered, where the budget may be off track or whether the schedule is lagging behind. Workflows have also always been an impressive feature and mean that users can create automatic step by step procedures, according to how they want the software to act – particularly useful for managing the RFI to change order process on a Job.
These three main features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM prove that CRM is not just about managing customer relationships; it can also be adapted to many different environments and become something more. To find out more about how your project management needs can benefit from a CRM based project management solution, please contact Scott Drushella at IPM Global USA.
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