by Moira Alexander

Improve business outcomes by aligning project management and CRM

Jun 13, 20165 mins
CRM SystemsIT LeadershipProject Management Tools

It comes as no surprise to hear that CRM is a primary factor in managing projects, but just how should these areas interrelate to achieve optimal client satisfaction?

In most companies, individual departments or teams believe they hold the key to understanding customer needs more than other areas of the business. But the reality is that different departments simply have a different view into customer expectations and none has an all-encompassing view.

CRM teams and EPMO/PMOs are not immune to this misconception. When you look at the two roles, both ultimately focus on customer/stakeholder satisfaction and utilize similar or comparable mechanisms to accomplish this in ways that are meaningful and measureable. It only makes sense if organizations have both CRM and EPMO/PMO teams that both teams should closely collaborate on projects in order to ultimately align common goals to improve customer satisfaction.

CRM’s role

CRM teams use strategies, technologies and information to obtain and improve business relationships with customers in an attempt to further advance business interactions, with the goal of ultimately growing the business.

[ Related story: 6 ways to be a better project manager ]

The PM’s role?

A project manager coordinates all aspects of project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and close out. Within this role, stakeholder management is the primary focus and involves the use of strategies, technologies and information to improve stakeholder satisfaction, as well as, meeting objectives and achieving business strategies.

Aligning the CRM and project manager focus

As with any other business initiatives, the customer’s needs should always be the primary focus when it comes to managing projects and CRM activities. It should not come as a shock to hear enterprise project management offices (EPMOs) should be closely working side-by-side with CRM teams to ensure customer concerns are addressed and expectations are met.

These two groups should not be mutually exclusive, but rather, to some extent, be attached at the hip in an effort to ascertain strategies and initiatives aimed at reaching a complete customer satisfaction rating. Essentially both groups should strive to uphold exceptional customer relationships as well as work towards garnering new customers through positive experience and overall satisfaction. By doing so this provides additional prospects for ongoing improvements that further solidify market reach.

What are the primary benefits to both teams?

  • With both of these influential groups collaborating on projects and business-wide undertakings as a whole, it allows for a clearer view from multiple vantage points, thus reducing the risks for error as well as missed objectives and opportunities.
  • This collaborative approach also increases efficiency and reduces duplication of efforts and is a better use of internal resources. This offers a relevant time and place to also consider tools and software that enabled both teams to message and collaborate within the same solution. The end result is a reduction in redoing work and waste, and improves internal visibility and communication overall. Robust project management solutions should integrate customer relationship management aspects into the software, making it more seamless and relevant for teams to collaborate.
  • There is also a decrease in the silo effect since both areas should start to develop a like-minded approach in terms of goals and focus. By reducing the silo effect the CRM team and EPMO/PMO can find common ground and work towards meeting overall customer expectations instead of focusing on department-by-department goals. This can reduce a significant amount of internal conflict by bridging the gap between areas and removing separate agendas.
  • With both teams working closely together, it increases the chances of realizing strategic alignment as the recognition of companywide goals in connection with customer/stakeholder satisfaction is amplified. There is an automatic uptick that should occur in the level of awareness towards each team’s goals and the complementary connection towards these goals in relation to the company.

[ Related story: 8 project management skills in high demand ]

What are the primary benefits to customers?

As it should be, customers eventually benefit from an elevated level of visibility that allows for improved transparency and understanding of various aspects of service delivery. With these areas working together in a synergistic manner, customers may derive a benefit via improved end products or services, a direct or indirect financial gain, or at the very least increased confidence in the company and its products or service offerings.

Customers are likely to experience improved levels of service as a result of aligned CRM and PM team goals that factor in the necessary processes designed to better achieve excellence. Whether intentional or not, any process improvements are likely be detected by stakeholders/customers at some stage.

Within project management, CRM, like multiple components present throughout the project lifecycle, is not a formalized singular specialized area in and of itself. Project managers can greatly benefit from unique input provided by CRM departments who focus specifically on customer relationships day-in-and-day-out. In turn, CRM departments work explicitly on customer relationships and can often miss out on the formal and technical strategic project management aspects that impact those relationships.

By working together, not only do both teams improve their levels of service, they increase the chances of project and business success through quality, cost, and process efficiencies. These two teams have the capability to pool their knowledge and skills to offer more powerful businesses insights, with a more holistic view into refining overall customer approval and satisfaction methods.