By Mark Engelberg, TimeLinx –
Few people these days are Googling “what is a Customer Relationship Management solution?” known simply as a ‘CRM.’ If you’re sitting in your office as you read this, then chances are you’re just a few clicks away from yours.
When it comes to answering the question ‘what is a project and service management solution,’ or ‘PSM,’ not as many people know that answer—which is a real shame, given the PSM’s role in cost optimization and profitability.
PSM solutions are to CRMs what Robin is to Batman—without them, they can’t perform at their best. Working together, they’re able to solve many more challenges and mitigate much more risk.
Before exploring this, let’s pause to ask, ‘why are standalone CRMs so prevalent?’
The Unstoppable Rise of CRM Solutions
‘CRM’ is an acronym so ingrained into business language today; it’s easy to forget that CRM doesn’t refer to the platform or solution itself but the process CRM solutions are designed to manage.
Let’s take the Wikipedia definition:
“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a process in which a business or other organization administers its interactions with customers, typically using data analysis to study large amounts of information.”
Okay, so there are no significant revelations there. Still, it’s critical to understand the distinction between a CRM process and a CRM solution to know where the PSM solution fits into the overall picture.
Why are CRM solutions so common?
From 30,000ft, it’s indisputable that CRM solutions have become almost ubiquitous.
According to this Grand View Research report:
“Industry estimates suggest that around 91% of organizations with more than ten employees in their workforce use CRM systems.”
Factors driving their use include:
- Rising demand for automated marketing engagement
- The need to optimize the scope of digital operations
- Imperatives to improve customer experience
- Imperatives to improve service factors
Collectively, these factors represent an acknowledgment that commercial value doesn’t only come from the sales of products and services; it also comes from how relationships are managed and leveraged over time in the course of selling those services and products.
How is the business value extracted from the CRM process, and what does the CRM process oversee?
Where CRM’s fall down
Your marketing team extracts value from your CRM solution by turning marketing activity into leads, your sales team turns leads into customers, and your support team turns customer care into customer satisfaction.
That’s precisely part of the problem of the standalone CRM solution.
Each team has a different view of what the CRM solution is and does. So long as the CRM solution meets the siloed needs of each department, everyone’s happy.
The common theme is that each department uses the CRM solution to extract value at different client relationship management stages that focus on sales funnel stages of marketing, quoting for, and closing work.
Marketing = relationship initiation
Sales = relationship conversion
Support/Account Management = relationship nurturing
To that extent, some CRM solutions can capture time and expense factors relating to each sales funnel stage.
The cost of not knowing end-to-end project costs
The Achilles heel of CRM solutions is that, for all their indispensable value, they tend to cause departments to run in isolation.
With each department only capturing and logging particular time and expense factors relating to their specific goal and purpose, the CRM process leaves huge cost-tracking gaps for factors outside the sales and marketing funnel, like actual project and service delivery.
To truly thrive or even survive, businesses must reliably capture end-to-end project and service-delivery lifecycle information that goes outside the scope of what the sales, marketing, and support processes capture.
That’s where the PSM steps in to fill the gaps.
PSM to the Rescue: How Project and Service Management Solutions Give Your CRM Superpowers
If you run a quick Google search, you can find around ten or so examples of times when Robin stepped in to save the day for or with Batman. Working in harmony with a CRM solution, a PSM solution steps in to bring mission value on a daily basis.
Instead of being designed solely from an account management perspective, project and service management solutions embedded right into the interface of a CRM are designed from a service-delivery manager’s perspective while not sacrificing any sales or marketing requirements.
This PSM service-management orientation instantly changes everything.
Suddenly time tracking and cost-performance metrics focused on the post-sale, pre-invoice project and service deliverables come within reach of the CRM and all its users.
Suddenly the sales, marketing, and support teams can interface with CRM features made possible by the embedded PSM. This brings into view key cost factors crucial for financial performance transparency.
- Project and task time tracking at various levels
- Resource allocation and scheduling
- Plus, all associated expenses across entire service-delivery stages
- All of these, and others, come into full view of management with real-time analysis and reporting
The result is one cohesive, end-to-end process where cost metrics related to time and other resource expenses are logged, captured, and accounted for across marketing, sales, service delivery, and accounting. Within a single system.
Maybe it’s time that CRM solutions did a little soul-searching to confront the fact that a bit of help from their project and service-management sidekick can go a long, long way.
CRM: But is pre and post invoice cost performance that important to see?
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TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.