Before I present the options and the different ways to track projects in CRM, let’s look at the different aspects of project management that would be needed in any organization.
- Resource Scheduling
- Project planning &tracking
- Time & Expense entry
- Approval process
- Project Billing
- Reporting & Analytics
Based on an organization’s requirements, not all of the topics may apply to them. For example, based on the size of the team, the resource scheduling and availability could be handled outside of the project system using an Outlook shared calendar. For that matter, project communication and messaging can be handled in a modern application like #slack. There are a lot of enterprise project management systems out there, but in this post I will be focusing on project systems built on top of a platform like Dynamics CRM (xRM).
A platform (xRM) like Dynamics CRM is great for building a project management system because it offers a strong framework for such a system. You can use existing activities or create your own activity types related to project and have them synced to Outlook calendar to help in project planning & resource availability. In CRM you can track appointments, emails and tasks related to a project from Outlook and also create new activity records related to a project right from within CRM. A custom entity like “Project” can track all details regarding a project and related entities to track project phases, timesheets, expenses, and billing. Workflows in CRM can be used to initiate the approval process for the timesheets and expenses, to assign tasks to project phases, and to send reminders on project tasks to resources on the project.
CRM already has opportunities, quotes, orders, and invoices which can tie into the project proposal all the way to project invoicing. A project proposal can start from an Opportunity and as project services are agreed upon in the quote and ordered, then it can drive the creation of the project record in CRM. In this manner, the project team can view the project in CRM and everything that led up to it. The project can then be worked upon by the project managers and/or coordinators, resources thus leading to the resources on the project recording their time & expense. Once the approval workflows are initiated, the timesheets and expense reports are available for the billing team to create invoices in CRM.
Another important aspect of project management is the reporting and analytics that you can get from a system. CRM provides a lot of ways to generate these reports using rollup fields, views, charts and dashboards. And not to mention additional reporting options using SQL Reporting Services and now Power BI. Users can create refreshable excel reports for project queries which then can be accessed even without logging into the CRM web app.
CRM provides an excellent framework to create a project management system on it and some of the CRM vendors have already done so. A quick search for project management in CRM will yield with these results:
- XRM1 Project management
- Assistance Software PSA
- AbleBridge Project management
I have experience in implementing xRM1 system, but I believe the other systems have their strengths and can work for an organization based on their requirements. Each of them offer a perpetual and SaaS pricing so you can compare accordingly. The most important aspect of selecting the right solution is to make sure you have detailed requirements for your project management needs or you can always engage a partner like us to gather these requirements and make an informed decision.
Have questions or want to learn more? Contact Dave at 301.360.0001 or email [email url=”firstname.lastname@example.org” class=””]email@example.com[/email]
DAVE VORA |Senior Business Software Consultant and CRM Lead
Dave is responsible for leading KTL’s CRM consultants, assuring that our solution scoping, architecting and delivery meet and exceed customer expectations. Dave has built lasting relationships with clients by understanding their business needs and providing value by leveraging their existing resources. Along with his consulting team, he has delivered effective solutions beyond traditional CRM constraints. Dave has more than eight years of experience in implementing business software for a variety of industries including service, government, distribution, not-for-profit and manufacturing. He graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science and also a specialization in Management from University of California at Irvine. His experience includes helping companies embrace technology to fulfill their organizational needs and creating innovative solutions using CRM, GP, Scribe and other Microsoft products.