How To Choose The Best Project Management Software
23 Feb, 2021

How To Choose The Best Project Management Software

A-Z Guide to Choosing Project Management Software

Introduction

Project management software or PMS is the best use of technology for planning, organizing, resourcing, estimation of the projects in any organization.

Do you know that 66% of the companies that used project management software have increased their profits from the preceding year? Developed in 1896, today, the project management software has evolved a lot since then.

The evolution of Harmonograms, followed by Gantt charts, testifies the developments in project management software. The teams’ absolute switch from excels and emails to efficient project management software has revolutionized its working.

We can judge the importance of project management software because more than 49% of organizations have project management training programs.

Why Is Project Management Software That Important?

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With less than 56% of the total project managers being certified, the project management software is vital for any organization. Have a look at the quick buyer’s guide to what project management software is essential:

  • Unconditional access from any location:

The first reason that makes project management software so important is that it allows the teams to be located remotely to access the projects’ progress. It is not easy to complete a project nowadays in the challenging times of the COVID-19.

Further, the cloud-based project management software has inherited features of affordability, scalability, and flexibility.

  • All tools under one roof:

After the accessibility comes to the easy use of the different tools used in the project management, the project management software combines all the tools for communication, tasks, delegation, reports, etc., at one platform.

Hence the team members can use the workflow management tools with zero wastage in searching the different tools. Whether it is planning, managing, or tracking the time, you don’t have to juggle between various tools.

  • Tracking budgets

More than 60% of project managers have confessed that they struggle to manage the project costs. This is best eliminated by using the latest project management software that ensures round-the-clock progress on budgets.

One of the best features of any project management software is the real-time tracking of accounts. It compares the actual funds with estimation to redesign the next step involving expenses.

  • The cross-functional collaboration of the teams

Communication can be an issue with multiple teams that are working simultaneously on the projects. With the help of project management software, it becomes easy to ensure the team’s smooth flow of information or documents.

The various members of the group can share the customer data. Hence, this cross-functional collaboration of the teams saves time and energy and boosts the project’s speed.

  • Ensuring accountability of single-member

Accountability forms the primary factor in ensuring the success of any project. The project management software makes it easy to assign tasks to single-member involved in the project.

The setting of deadlines against the duties further ensures that each member has accounted credibility. Hence, this individual accountability in the enormous project provides the highest levels of productivity.

  • Adding value to the meetings

The project management software adds worth to team meetings by assigning proper objectives to it. All the leading software allows the members to schedule and conduct meetings effortlessly. Thus, managers can design the schedule of meetings and can create notes as well.

Therefore, these inter-team interactions and different participants work aggressively towards the project’s productivity and savings.

  • Easy to maintain the documents

Documentation is a big part of any project. The documentation of any project needs to be clear, descriptive, and accurate. Hence, the project management software ensures overall efficiency in documentation by bringing technology into data management.

No more fuss in extracting the information from the documents when you have updated software that takes care of the same. Also, it is easy to pass on the story to the right person with the least time.

  • Eliminate the bottlenecks

The early detection of the major bottlenecks in the projects is one of the best advantages of using project management software.

The managers can prepare according to the situations and can take productivity to higher levels. The detection of bottlenecks in any project and the best solutions is a core function of the leading project management software.

  • Improved customer satisfaction

It directly links the success of the project to customer satisfaction. The project management software’s unique features that improve external communication with clients work in the same direction. There is no match to project management software’s advantages for serving your customer in the best possible way.

What Factors To Keep In Mind While Searching For The Right Project Management Software?

Project Management Software - Factors To Keep In Mind

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Once you’re sure about the importance of project management software, the next million-dollar question is what to look for in project management software? With over 66% of companies switching their projects on the project management software, it is equally important to choose the correct software for your use. The important factors include:

  • Server:

Most project management software uses SaaS technology that empowers the software with easy and all-time accessibility to the team members. There are further advantages of no licensing costs and zero installation issues. Hence, it is recommended to go for a cloud-based project management system only.

  • Scalability:

The best project management software should have remarkable scalability. The increase in the number of projects in any organization should resonate with the software system’s capacity. Thus, it is advised to go for a project management system that has high scalability.

  • Workflow type:

While waterfall technology is a thing of the past, the market of recent workflow technologies is dominated by Agile. Hence, it is good to check the workflow technology in your project management software.

  • Centralized Control:

The project manager should be at the top of the project management software and have centralized control of functioning and reporting. Hence, your project management software should release the stress of controlling and facilitating at different project stages.

  • Training support to the team:

The project management software should come with internal team training and a reliable technical support team. There is no use of the software if your team cannot use it properly and efficiently. Hence, go for the choices with the best technical support and training schedules for the entire team.

  • Reporting tools:

The project management software should have the best reporting tools to facilitate the mapping, tracking, and recording progress. Choose quality over quantity in reporting tools.

  • Clear and organized:

In the end, project management software should be clear and organized. A project manager should be comfortable in using it despite several projects at different stages of completion.

The project management software with the best reliability, ease of integration, and ease of use implemented to skilled workforce acts is the best-invested capital of any company.

Trusted by many with different backgrounds, the project management software has much to offer. It is now time to shift your focus to the functionalities after you’re ready with the criteria for selecting project management software. 

What Functionalities to Look for in Project Management Software?

Project Management Software - What Functionalities to Look

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Do you know that over 87% of the companies are already using project management software? It is all about choosing the right project management software for your needs. Let us have a quick check at the best functionalities that you should never miss while finalizing the best project management software.

With your work’s responsibility on its shoulders, any project management software has to excel at its best. With the global industry of project management reaching $6.61 trillion soon, it is essential to have a checklist of its functionalities. Any project management software must perform:

  • Project Management- Planning and Scheduling

The project management software should help the managers to prioritize their tasks. The planning tools in this software allow the best task delegation, along with time limitations.

Hence, each member of the team has a simple idea of its responsibilities in the project. The task management tools further come to the rescue when it is all about the project’s reminders and progress tracking.

The shared team calendar tool in project management software allows transparency in the meetings of the project. Your project management software must integrate with the leading work calendars.

The project management software’s planner tool enhances the team’s productivity as the manager can access the tasks, progress, and changes. Over 33% of projects fail because of senior management’s lack of involvement in planning and scheduling.

Thus, for the necessity of seamless planning and scheduling, your project management software must have planning and task management tools. If planning is correct, the chances are rare that your project will not meet the quality standards and timelines.

  • Resource Management- Use and Efficiency

After the planning and scheduling, next are the resources. There are multiple resources associated with any project. The resources in any project may be related to any items or equipment essential for completing the project.

Thus, ideal project management software enables the user to identify, organize, and track the resources with no size limitations. It helps the project managers to keep responsive and unresponsive resources together on one platform.

The best project management software in the market must ensure the judicious use of resources at high efficiency at all times. The best project management tools for resource management include inventory tools, attendance reporting tools, time tracking tools, and scheduling tools.

  • Budget Management- Reporting and Time tracking

Out of all the resources, budgets are the most dynamic resource in any project. The excel sheets used in minor projects may outdated the needs of the large projects.

Thus, budget management has to be an essential part of the scalability function of project management software. The ease of exporting the data on the software and expense tracking should be your project management software’s core function. The budget reports thus generated should be easy to fetch and interpret.

Project Management Software - Budget Management

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The project management dashboard’s availability and access to the key persons in the project work like a big yet sorted excel sheet. It helps you to get real-time data on the budgets of the project.

Further, as the project’s size increases, there is a need for automated invoices and time billing. The time tracking tools with email reminders for payments play the role of a dedicated accountant.

IT projects with over 1 million dollars’ budgets are more likely to fail than 350 thousand dollars. Extensive projects mean big budgets and significant responsibilities.

Thus, to ensure the best and most accurate budget management in extensive projects, your project management software must have budget reporting, a budget dashboard with limited access, automated invoicing, and time billing tools.

  • Team Management- Collaborating with all active participants

There is no use in implementing different tools if there is no provision of team collaboration. A project means many team members with unique skills working together.

Thus, there is a need for quick and efficient communication at all levels of the team. The features like the contact list, calendar sharing, and file sharing ensure smooth transmission of data and tasks among original team members.

The cloud-based project management software provides unlimited storage for data sharing between the team members.

The sharing of input and other data from the client-side is best done on a team dashboard or team management tools of the project management software.

The team dashboard must-have graphic and visual tools to explore the key performance indicators of the team. Thus, no need for aggressive reporting when you have a team dashboard ready for your help.

The team’s easy collaboration over minor tasks and enormous tasks should be the aim of any project management software. Hence, the inter-team communication facilities in the project management software are another success factor of your project.

  • Data Management- Accessibility and CRM

Just like data is money, so is valid for data management in projects. You should maintain your project’s data precisely for not only billing purposes and keep a track record of team functioning. The project management software should manage all your data and information in your project.

The project papers, project resources, expenses, billing, invoices, completed and uncompleted tasks create a sea of data starting from the clients’ inputs. Sadly, most project managers have to juggle between different tools to manage this swarm of data.

With 47% of projects failing due to lack of data management only, it is not wise to invest in project management software that doesn’t have distinguished documentation tools.

The accessibility of all data at a single platform makes it easy to work for the project manager. Efficient data management tools should ensure high levels of accuracy at all times. The AI-based tools best provide this in the project management software.

  • Reporting- Dashboards/KPIs

Keeping a record of the progress of your project at all times is the key to ensure success. Reporting tools are thus crucial in any project management software to provide the best progress records.

These tools allow insights into the project, the areas to improve, and, hence, add to the project management software’s overall productivity. The graphical representation of the customized reports enables us to track the negatives and positives to get to the root cause of the project’s issues.

The availability of the project critical performance indicator (KPI) dashboard is the best tool to provide real-time automated reports. The shared team dashboards, the financial essential performance indicator reporting, and the project manager dashboards are crucial parts of the project management software’s reporting tools.

Thus, your online project management software is incomplete without a reporting tool. Always look for the best KPI-based dashboards, customized reports, etc. These are highly useful in maintaining multiple accounts on a single platform. Further, it is easy to extract the reports for reconsideration.

More than 94% of companies bow down to the significance of project management software. It is equally important to choose the project management software with the best functionalities not to resist the software’s workings. Let us move our attention to the next step, i.e., what services to look for in Project Management Software.

What Features to Look for in Project Management Software?

Over 90% of companies believe that open-source project management software increases interoperability, innovation, and efficiency. Hence, implementing project management software can be the best investment for any organization. Thus, your choice of PM software must have best-in-class features.

Project Management Software - Features

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Features to Have in Project Management Software:

They flood the market for project management software with many products. The all-in-one project management software best matches your requirements.

Don’t compromise on the features, even if you’re looking for small business project management software. However, any project management software must have the following features:

  • Ease to use:

The project management software should add to the project team’s facility instead of ending their worries. Hence, the simple and clutter-free dashboard is the first requirement of any project management software. It must be available to all the users on multiple devices with no restrictions.

The clear and useful interface with minimalist design and essential tools is all to look for in good project management software.

The easy-to-use project management software can save the company’s fortunes on the conventional project management software training. The bundle of tools and integrations will fail drastically if the project management software is challenging to use.

However, many people claim that ease of use is not a definite term. In case you’re new to project management software, try to go for the free project management software and rate it based on ease of access to the tools, compatibility with multiple devices, etc.

  • Hosting location:

All the other features depend on the hosting location of the project management software. Most of the project management software uses cloud-based technology. While there are definite advantages of cloud-based software, the increasing costs with an increase in the number of users can be difficult for small enterprises.

  • Dashboards:

Like you have a control room in different projects, efficient dashboards are the project management software’s versatile control centers. Dashboards are of immense importance to project managers.

It helps to get a quick and correct insight into the work, resources, budgets, and timelines. Thus, your PM software should be clear to understand dashboards.

  • Planning:

The planning and scheduling of the tasks in project management software mark the start of the project. The comprehensive planning tools allow the project managers to delegate the duties to the team with no difficulty.

Many project management software use Gantt charts for improving the planning function. To ensure that the work is flowing in all ways, it is vital to decide the schedules and planning.

It is easy to view the progress of the project concerning plans. All the team members have access to the work and deadlines. The project managers can further track the milestones and edit the dates and reminders according to the need.

  • Inter and Intra Team Collaboration:

Once the planning and schedules are in place, your project management software needs to provide the best collaboration tools that facilitate communication.

You may need to communicate with your team or at the client-side. Hence, the project management software always goes for the best messaging tools, user groups, guest accounts, and document sharing features.

Project Management Software - Team Collaboration

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The messaging apps allow the best place to communicate with the team without juggling emails and mobile phones. Further, with these apps, it is easy to track down the information.

In case you want external entities to come on board, you can take the help of the guest account feature. These can be modified according to the type of access to the guests. The multiple teams in any PM software can communicate easily by using the user group’s feature.

The document management feature facilitates the privilege of sharing multiple documents with the team on a single platform. Hence, it allows a seamless flow of information. Thus, the collaboration tools lend an extra hand to the project manager, irrespective of its size.

  • Templates:

The project template feature saves the time and hard work of the project manager. Look for the project management software that is equipped with pre-built templates. The workflow’s case and method are already highlighted, empowering the project manager to work on other essential tasks.

The simplification of the entire project management and all-time control are the best advantages of the project templates. In case you’re looking for multiple templates, you can go for the customization of the templates available in small business project management software.

  • Task Management Tools:

The task management tools are essential for any project manager. It makes the monitoring and management of the project easy using visualization tools. The details and task dependencies are best maintained by the charts, boards, and cards.

Any project management software must have Scrum boards, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts. The Gantt charts allow the full life cycle management of the project. The defined timelines of the sprints in scrum boards can divide your project into a to-do, already completed, and in-progress tasks.

The Kanban boards further allow the use of cards and columns to highlight any project details. These task management tools work in collaboration to eliminate chaos and are essential features to look at in any project management software.

  • Resource Management Tools:

The resource management tools allow easy tracking of performing every resource on the project. It ensures the manager that he never has a lack of materials or persons in the project. It also prevents the overuse of resources that has a severe impact on the budgets. The best resource management tools use graphs and charts to monitor and compare the health of the resources.

  • Workflow Customization:

Over 93% of telecom companies are using an agile method. However, you must go for the project management software that has built-in multiple workflows. This helps the project manager to ensure high productivity at all levels of the team. The options in different workflows further add to the progress management.

  • Budgeting:

The budgeting feature of the project management software manages the costs and ensures that you’re always on the positive side of budget management. Go for the project management software with the best budgeting tools that facilitate budget insights, deadlines, and notifications.

Over 27% of the projects run over the assigned budgets. Hence, the budgeting tools are another critical feature of the project management software.

  • Reporting:

Any project management software should have pre-built reports and custom reports features. To track the key performance indicators of all the team, you can go for the pre-built reports.

There is a further facility for the export and download of data to your system for efficient reporting. It saves the project manager’s time, as he doesn’t have to juggle between different sheets to create the reports.

Even the free project management software has reporting tools. Further, the customized reports allow the project manager to concentrate on the most volatile part of the project.

Hence, the project’s detailed view of reports is best managed by the project management software’s latest reporting tools. It adds to the accuracy and flexibility in reporting while eliminating the loopholes at all times.

  • Integrations:

Even if the project management app or messaging feature is not fulfilling your needs, it is best to look for integrations. Identity management integration, CRM integration, email integrations, etc., are some of the best integration features of any project management software.

The identity management integration allows seamless access to the authorized members of the team. An efficient CRM works wonders in handling your clients’ needs and updating them on the progress.

With email integration at your place, you don’t have to worry about the sending and receiving part when you can get it in your project management software.

The project management software’s top requested features include time tracking, budget management, file sharing, and email integration.

Once you’re done with your list of the mandatory components in the project management software, you will be exposed to several confusing options again. Before investing, you must know how to choose the right project management software.

Project management software has a vast availability in different variants through all kinds of vendors in the market. 89% of the companies complete their projects on time using the right project management software. Let us help you with the proper steps to choose project management software to be a highly grossing company.

How to Choose the Right Project Management Software?

Project Management Software - How to Choose

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Once you have made your mind to buy project management software for your needs, it isn’t easy to find one that stands high on all of your requirements. Some have the power of planning and scheduling, while others are best with budgeting and reporting. Thus, it is easy to get confused while looking at different project management software. Let us prepare a checklist of the steps involved in the process:

  • Workflow method:

Just like each manager has its working style, the project management software’s workflow method will determine your software style. It is good to start with the workflow method to define the planning, scheduling, management, and project’s success.

Most companies go for the agile methodology that is a trusted partner of the project managers. Hence, if your company is working on an agile method, it is good to choose the project management software that supports the same.

Visual workflow is another type of technology that companies adopt. Thus, if you always want to have a top view of all the projects, this workflow methodology is the best.

These two popular workflow methodologies best overcome the limitations of the waterfall methodology. Another right choice would be to go with the project management software that encompasses different workflows. This suits the prominent organizations with multiple projects running at a time.

  • Defining basic requirements:

Once you’re done with the workflow methodology, let’s turn towards project management software’s basic requirements. Any good project management software should ensure the best communication between the team members, other project teams, and stakeholders.

Look for the facility of email integration in your project management software. This will solve the problems of the overloaded mailbox and help in smooth communication between the teams.

The next important part is the organization of the project or project’s management in the software. The tasks, the duties, and the deadlines should be apparent to all the persons associated with the project.

The assigning of the duties between original team members should be comfortable and transparent on any project management software. It should avoid the uneven distribution of the work and must contribute to the project efficiencies.

The team discussions should be scheduled, maintained, and monitored by your project management software. There is no need to waste hundreds of efficient hours scheduling meetings to deploy your project management software for the same work.

Thus defining the requirements is one of the significant contributors to how to select project management software.

  • Researching about the project management software:

The tools in any project management software are the armor of any project manager. The stronger the armor, the stronger will be the performance of the manager.

Hence, once you’re clear with the requirements, it is essential to do your homework on the best project management software tools. Ensure that you don’t end up buying the tools with features that are of least interest to your project.

You can take the help of your colleagues in deciding the best project management software tools. Their experiences can be helpful for you. Further, you can speak to the different project managers from your industry to get the best dos and don’ts before buying a project management software for you.

The best thing to do is to explore the data from project management websites. It will help you get the best trending project management software and help you go through other users’ experiences.

  • Test the project management software:

Now you’re clear about the theory, and it’s time to move to the practical. Have you heard about the free trials offered by different vendors of project management software?

Make the best use of these open trials. All you need to do is to check the project management software with your pilot team. Choose the best members in your group, probably the ones with different experiences and working techniques. It will help you to judge the efficiency of the project management software correctly.

Test the project management software

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Checkout basic features first and then move to different project management software tools. You can compare these tools with your list of required tools to get the best results.

Don’t forget to check on the customer service of the project management software. A quick-responding, reliable, and accurate technical support can help you get out of the bottlenecks using the project management software.

Hence, testing is an unfishable step in how to choose project management software for your use.

  • Feedbacks on the project management software:

After having a trial of the project management software, it is vital to have the group feedback. Your team has worked on the project management software and has a fair idea about its future in your organization. Hence, taking each member’s input can help simplify choosing the right project management software.

No two team members would share the same feedback. Hence, you must compare the input of your team regarding their job duties.

You can go for the simple questions for your team, like the advantages and disadvantages of the project management software for them? The time to understand the project management software and its efficiency is best to be taken from your team.

  • Costs of the project management software:

Once you have rated the project management software based on your team’s feedback, you can have the flair of any project management software.

After completing your project management software’s features and tools, it is all about the costs now. Don’t get lured by the multiple discounts offered, as they might compromise on the components.

Costs of the project management software

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Consider your purchasing of project management software as a long-term investment for your company. The project management software costs based on the user and its updates and other limitations need to be considered here. Not to miss are the availability of the free apps, integrations that make your work easy.

After careful consideration of the workflow method, defining the requirements, researching project management software, the testing is the game-changer. Once you’ve done the testing with your team, it is time to sit down and generate feedback about the project management software.

Last but not least, the step of comparing the costs of different project management software clears the water to choose the right project management software for you.

What you can do next is to involve the senior management in this project management software selection process. You may have decided on the project management software, but it is best executed with senior management intervention. With over 83% of companies investing in project management training, you can also propose it in your organization.

Deciding on the project management software by keeping its functionality and accuracy at high standards can help you decide on the best product. The above list can be beneficial to you. After knowing the steps to choose project management software, it is time to start fishing the right vendors and asking them questions about what we have figured so far from this guide.

What Questions to Ask Vendors While Choosing a Project Management Software?

Finding the right vendors and asking them the right questions is equally important. Since the vendor wouldn’t know what you want exactly unless you clarify, here are the questions you should be asking the project management software vendors from your end:

  • How much are you investing in the development of this particular project management software?
  • What will the support access look like once I purchase this project management software from you? What are the fees of tech and hardware support?
  • Can I customize the features and functionalities of this project management system?
  • How easy is the implementation going to be of this project management software?
  • Will this particular project management system be scalable?
  • Is there a contract to buy this particular project management software?
  • What are the costs to upgrade the PM software?
  • How much does the hardware cost for the PM software?
  • What is the turnaround time of getting bugs fixed and tickets closed for the project management software?
  • What are the typical hurdles one might face while buying this project management software?

These are some of the questions you might want answered by the vendor you approach or you get approached from to know their selling experience and credibility. Once you figure out these questions, you can start on the next hurdle of getting a PM software, i.e., how to implement it.

How to Implement Project Management Software

With 94% of companies agreeing that the project management software is essential, its importance needs no description. However, implementing project management software can be a demanding task. Let us help you with the best process to implement this success factor at your organization.

How to Implement Project Management Software

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The proper implementation of the project management software paves the way for productivity for the company. However, project management software is a vast term, and its performance is not a plug-in and play process. Who are the persons that need this implementation?

The project team members are the ones who have to bear this software. According to a study named Overcoming Resistance to Change, the researchers found that employees’ participation is essential for smooth workflow transition.

Hence, once you’re done with your choice of project management software, it is time to move on to how to implement a project management system. Here are the quick steps:

  • Introducing your team to project management software:

While introducing new project management software, you may feel that a couple of your team members are more inclined towards it. These persons understand the latest technology faster than their colleagues.

Hence, you can take these persons to make the team understand the new project management software. Your aggressive team members have the advantage of a good connection with the entire team and can be your ambassadors of the change.

All you need to do is collect the influencers in the project team. They may be at senior level or mid-senior level. These members will work as a catalyst in bringing change to your organization.

With over 31% of companies failing due to lack of vision, these critical members eliminate the possibility of divided dreams. This resolves the problem of a different point of view on introducing the new project management software.

It is essential to notice that these differences should have vital facts and shouldn’t be biased. Once you have introduced the first or updated project management software to the team, it is time to move to its features.

  • Explaining the features of project management software:

The communication in explaining the features is another critical step in implementing project management software. The best way to do this is to show the elements and their implications on the project management team’s day-to-day activities. For example, you can let your team know about the savings in time using the project management software’s scheduling tools.

Do your best to ensure that your team is sure about the project management software’s help. You can start this work by explaining the use and the benefits of the planning tools, scheduling tools, risk management tools, budgeting tools, reporting tools, etc.

Don’t miss giving a quick insight into your team’s features of integrations and mobile apps. Just like the first impression is the last impression, select the right team for this step.

With over 33% of projects failing because of senior management’s lack of participation, make sure that your senior management is active in this process. Prioritize the communication with your team and the best demonstrations about the new project management software. The next step in the process is the conduction of the training.

  • Arrangement of tutorials/training on project management software:

Over 83% of companies invest in project management software training. You can take the help of the internal training modules in the purchase of new project management software. Thus training is the most respected step in the journey of how to implement a project management system.

In training on newly introduced project management software, it is vital to set the activity’s guidelines or objectives. Your team may have never used complicated tools like risk management tools or project management tools.

Project Management Software - Arrangement of tutorials

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Hence, they should learn how to operate the tools along with their reasonable use. For this purpose, the training team may create a frequently asked questions list and how-to-do data on each instrument. You can’t expect your team to understand all the features on one go.

However, what you can expect is the local managers’ involvement in the project team to give insights into each software function. For example, the training team can design the project templates and workflow method to understand the rest of the group.

You can further test the training process with a short yet informative test after the conduction of training. This will help the participants to understand the process better while the managers can change the training process according to the results. It is recommended to go in steps rather than taking a giant leap.

  • Bifurcating the tasks on project management software:

Quantifying the work on the new project management software is an essential step in implementing project management software. Your team may take different times to get familiar with the new project management software. We thus require it to give them adequate time to understand the latest software in the organization.

Hurrying up can invite risks as over 47% of the projects fail because of poor management of the tasks.

After giving adequate time to your team, you can now move to the delegation part. Most companies prefer to take baby steps to ensure the team’s high comfort and adaptability working on the project.

It is best to introduce all the concepts one by one rather than forcing all of them on your team in one go. The secret to this process is the quantification of the new project management software so that your team can feel confident.

The gradual introduction to the project management software should not compromise on the deadlines. Hence, you can define a clear outline in this bifurcation of the tasks. The next step in this implementation process is the feedback.

  • Open ear to feedbacks on the chosen project management software:

You are done with the introduction, bifurcation, and then implementing the project management software in your organization. But can you relax now? Not at all, as collecting feedback from your team is an integral part of how to implement a project management system.

feedbacks on the chosen project management software

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Most issues will arise at the start of the implementation. Hence, brace for the situations. The system is new for the employees, and also, there is pressure to perform well.

Thus, the chances are high that your team gets stuck in the problems while using the project management software. The preparation of the feedback surveys can be highly beneficial at this last stage.

These feedback surveys allow each team member to share his views about the different tools, calibrations, and dashboards. You can conduct these surveys monthly or quarterly based on the company’s requirements.

The best way to collect the feedback is to throw some questions to your team and let them answer according to their experiences.

Conclusion:

Once you’re clear with the implementation steps, it is easy to start with your company’s project management software. The software makes teamwork easy.

Hence, it is crucial to carry your team with you throughout the implementation process. Take care of the training and feedback to get the best out of your project management software.

With the above quick list of steps, implementing project management software has never been so easy and brisk in your company. Choose it, implement it, and enjoy the best functionality and features of the project management software to multiply your organization’s productivity levels.

How To Choose The Best CRM Software
16 Feb, 2021

How to Choose the Best CRM Software

Wondering about the ways you could get your business a great CRM system? We heard you. In this article, we will walk you through every vital aspect of CRM – right from its terms and types to features and importance – to make it easier for you to buy the best CRM software.

Choosing a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is as crucial for any business as devising an efficient strategy. You have to keep multiple factors in mind. What are those factors? What are its benefits? We will see those in dedicated sections. The first step, however, is to understand the CRM system thoroughly. Similar to understanding the core of your business.

So, let’s get started with the CRM software definition.     

What is CRM Software?

In simple words, CRM software is a business tool, designed to help you manage your organization’s interactions with its existing clientele, as well as prospects. 

Contrary to popular belief, the system is beyond just sales. CRM can also help boost your marketing and operations to track & enhance relationships and upsell customers. 

It can be your go-to system for all the information you need about a particular client or a section of clientele within a few clicks. For instance, email communications, calls, customer preferences, customer details, and sales. The software thus, over time, would hold for you an in-depth history of interactions with all your contacts – minus the conventional costs of business administration.  

But how does it help with prospective clients? 

Well, CRM platform stores and tracks your leads and the communication with them, making it simpler to convert them into actual customers. This conversion process gets even smoother when you combine the technique with automated marketing.

Now let’s consider an example of CRM software. 

Apple, the global tech giant, has CRM at its core in its growth strategy. As you might already know, your unique Apple ID lets you use a range of Apple services – from App Store to FaceTime to Apple Music. In a synchronized way across devices. 

While that spells convenience for you – the user, this, for Apple, boils down to obtaining accurate insights on what users like and prefer. That, in turn, helps the company provide customized services and pursue targeted marketing effortlessly. 

What Does a CRM System Do? And the Reasons Why You Need It. 

You must be getting curious by now as to what exactly a CRM system does for a business? To satisfy your curiosity, here is an easy-to-comprehend list of all the primary things CRM takes care of:

  • Builds the focus on customers

The software presents instant information on any of your contacts, customers, and communication with them. For example, the products they purchased, when they bought it, and how much they paid. Such information helps you provide the best customer service, both pre and after-sales, which ultimately contributes to customer retention and loyalty. 

  • Creates a central information hub

CRM ends the disparate data and processes with its central hub of information. You can find everything you need in one place with complete visibility, minus any duplicate data. 

The system also offers integrations with other systems, streamlining all your business processes. Thus, team collaborations, even for your remote workforce, become hassle-free. Plus, you can even set user-based permissions for controlling access.

  • Boosts profitability and sales

CRM brings automation to your sales operations. Whether it is lead tracking or lead categorization and prioritization, the system tackles it all. That enables you to close leads rapidly, improving the scope of your sales.   

  • Offers reporting and insights

Almost all the top CRM software tools facilitate future projections and analysis of the present data. From insights on your customers and their activities to in-depth reports on your ROI, the system functionalities do it all for you. 

Now that we have explored the use of CRM, it is time to discover why it is essential for your business. 

  • With centralized records of data on your customers, suppliers, and prospects, CRM simplifies detecting the pain points to fill the gaps.
  • The system aids in improving the process efficiency, thanks to its structured information.
  • Since the software stores customer history and analyses their behavior, you can easily carry out targeted marketing and upsell products/services. That boosts your sales and revenue generation.
  • CRM turns your business processes truly customer-focused, creating a positive customer experience – a prerequisite for making your customers feel valued and retain them. 
  • The system gives you accurate data at any given time, including sales and purchases, to determine your business performance. That enhances your decision-making capabilities significantly.

What are the Types of CRM Software?

CRM, at its core, assists your business in gaining a competitive advantage. But you need to select one out of its four specialized types, detailed below, depending upon your business requirements and operations for desired results.   

  1. Operational CRM

Going by the name, an operational CRM software solution helps you better handle the day-to-day customer-centric business processes: sales, marketing, and services. It is the most commonly used CRM platform trusted by businesses of all sizes across industries.

With operational CRM systems, you get all the information in terms of your contacts/prospects in one place. That aids in the efficient management of the entire lead lifecycle, right from capturing to closing leads; boosting collaborations between different teams. 

The highlight, however, of this type of CRM is the automation it brings to your marketing, sales, and services operations with its tools. Here’s how.  

  • Marketing automation  

It automates a lot of critical tasks of your marketing team that are otherwise time-consuming. Some of them, include content offer distribution, coordination of email campaigns, insights on every lead, and tracking of ads ROI. 

  • Sales automation 

It streamlines your business’s sales process, letting your sales team focus more on direct prospect interactions. And ultimately get more clients on-board. The processes it automates, include email scheduling, lead prioritization, task creation, contact delegation, setting up meetings, and record & coordinate sales calls.   

  • Services automation 

It automates services that deal with customers to offer them the best possible experience. Be it resolving their issues or providing necessary information/one-on-one assistance. Live chats, IVR, or ticketing systems are a few of the many ways companies automate their customer services. 

Who should use it?

Operational CRMs work equally well for SMBs and large-scale entities. Any business keen on automating its workflow or having a linear sales procedure can benefit from this kind of CRM tool. 

  1. Analytical CRM 

Analytical CRM is a system that helps make optimized use of the data you collect about your clients, both online and offline. It can be your customers’ preferences, interests, points of contact, channels, and much more. 

In other words, analytical CRM software solutions are nothing but the tools that help you understand your customers in the easiest yet most effective way. 

A majority of analytical CRMs include three key components called data warehousing, data mining, and OLAP (Online analytical processing) tools to offer maximum outcomes.

With these tools, the system analyzes the data collected to achieve a number of objectives like creating targeted marketing campaigns, enhancing sales strategies, and building robust service networks. 

It also gives a broader picture of your entire customer lifecycle – beginning with customer identification and attraction to retention and growth. 

Simply put, the more data you would gather, the more the system would help you understand your clientele and resolve pain points. 

Who should use it?

Analytical CRMs are great for a business interested in optimizing its data to understand the way its clients operate for consistent growth. 

  1. Collaborative CRM

A collaborative CRM is built to streamline communication between various departments of your organization, such as sales, marketing, and support/services. The CRM software here facilitates the free flow of customer information among your internal teams with an aim to enhance the customer experience. 

Collaborative CRMs include two crucial aspects – interaction management and channel management. To offer you a maximum understanding of your customers’ needs and interests. 

The interaction management component monitors each interaction taking place between your business and clients. Be it through calls, emails, social media, or any other medium. You can log these communications, along with the team notes, and share the same seamlessly across your company. 

Channel management, on the other hand, leverages interaction management. It detects and pursues the customers’ preferred communication channels using the data collected and examined through interaction management. For example, it tells you whether you should reach out to Client A via a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, or emails. 

Who should use it?

Collaborative CRMs are ideal for businesses spread across the globe, in the services sector (both B2B & B2C), and the ones that require solid cross-departmental interactions.  

  1. Strategic CRM

In strategic CRM system solutions, the focus is entirely on the consumers. Through this type of software, you can continuously learn more about your clientele – their wants and preferences.  And use that information to offer personalized interactions with each of them to maintain strong, long-term relationships. 

Who should use it?

Any business with a goal of strengthened long-term client bonds can make the most of strategic CRMs. 

What are the Common CRM Terms You Must Know?

After understanding the CRM software basics, it is time to explore the terminology you will encounter while using the system. Although the list of such terms is quite extensive, here we will cover the 12 most common terms you must know. 

  1. Account

Account refers to a group or an individual record for every consumer, entity, or other contacts. It can even act as an address in some instances, instead of the company’s name, in correspondences. 

  1. Activity 

An activity in CRM system tools points to a history of emails, phone calls, meetings, messages, or other such tasks with respect to the accounts, leads or contacts. The system allows the logging of activities both manually and automatically.

  1. Contact

A contact is a piece of individual information covering a client’s personal details, including name, email, phone number, and mailing address. In addition to that, a contact may also refer to a prospect, an associate, or a company with whom your sales guy has an interaction. 

  1. Campaign 

As you might already be aware, campaigns are marketing efforts, whether online or offline. For example, emailers, print ads, social media marketing, online ads, product launches, and events. 

  1. Lead 

A lead is your potential consumer who may be in need of your business’s products/services. From the perspective of your sales pipeline, leads stand at the first stage. A place where they have shown interest in your products/services but your marketing or sales team is yet to qualify them.

  1. Lead Conversion 

    Lead conversion is a procedure of converting a lead into a customer. 

  1. Dashboard 

Dashboards refer to the home section or a landing page of your CRM system displaying primary information along with the navigation. At the same time, dashboards can also point to a distinct area of the software showcasing performance metrics and other critical data to analysts, c-suite executives, or managers. 

  1. Deals 

Whether you could make a successful sale of your products/services or not, either of the scenarios would be recorded and tracked in your CRM as Deals. A Won Deal if it generated income or a Lost Deal if it fell through. 

  1. Profile 

Profiles in CRMs make reference to the people of your organization who are using the solution. Each profile has a role as well as a set of permissions. For instance, you can provide the Profile editing right only to the HRs. 

  1. Opportunity 

An opportunity is a potential sale of your products/services. 

  1. Quote 

A quote is a formal offer with set pricing for your products or services to prospective clients.   

  1. Segmentation 

The term segmentation in the on-premise and online CRM software refers to categorizing contacts depending upon different criteria, like demographics, into a target market. For example, a CRM system can group consumers in a specific age range to send out emails as part of targeted marketing efforts.  

What are the Common Features of CRM Software?

CRM software tends to have an elaborated list of features to help you run your business smoothly. However, there are some characteristics common to the most popular, highly-functional CRMs. What are those, let’s find out.  

Top 12 Common Features of CRM Systems

  1. Contact Management

Customers, a vital aspect of any business, require the best, personalized services, along with the feeling of being valued. Now that can only happen when you have their records organized. And that’s what contact management offers. 

It enables you to not only organize your contacts effectively but also segment them into groups. So, you can gather and understand consumer data and create compelling marketing strategies accordingly. It also lets you connect with your contacts across channels, promoting stronger relationships.  

  1. Lead Management

Management of leads is essential for even the most basic CRMs. Because it simplifies the entire lead lifecycle, right from capturing leads and automating lead scoring to determining the ones most likely to convert. That, followed by the necessary follow-ups for more information based on psychographic or demographic elements. 

With such accurate lead management, your salespeople can always know which leads are worth pursuing and at what stage.

  1. Opportunity Management 

Like leads, it is equally critical to detect and track which type of customers has the highest probability of a conversion. In formal terms, you can call it the act of quantifying your sales opportunities – a task made simpler by opportunity management. The result is, you get an optimized sales process, increased productivity with a streamlined marketing/sales team.

  1. Email Integration

Switching between different apps to keep a track of your emails can be overwhelming and cumbersome. That’s why many customer relationship management software systems offer email integration with major providers, such as Gmail and Outlook. 

Such integrations make your team’s life smoother as they can manage, organize, prioritize and segment contact lists. And experience seamless collaboration. Missing out on important emails from customers requesting assistance also becomes a thing of the past. Moreover, since all of it is done within a single interface takes convenience a notch higher.

  1. Workflow Automation

Workflow automation, one of the best CRM features, takes significant stress off your head by automating repetitive, time-consuming processes. It allows you to define rules with triggers and events, which, in turn, equips the software to perform actions automatically. That saves a lot of your time and resources.

Let’s say, for instance, when you receive a message, the CRM software can send an automated predefined response as an acknowledgement of the message. Or you can set up automatic follow-up reminders to your prospects/opportunities. 

  1. Customization 

When it comes to CRM, there is no one-size-fits-all. As every business is unique, it has its own distinguished requirements. Thus, a majority of CRMs come with customizable features that adapt to your distinct needs. 

So what all can you customize? 

To start with, the way you view the information gathered, currencies, languages, and data collection methods to the dashboard layout. It’s all about the ease of use and productivity, after all. 

  1. Forecasting

As the name suggests, forecasting helps you make precise future projections leveraging the present and past data, as well as trends. It can be about your business sales for the next quarters and even revenues. The predictions facilitate objective decision-making and resource allocation. You can then compare these forecasts with the actual results to determine performance and outline future actions.    

  1. Dashboards and Reporting

Having smooth access to your data and reports is of utmost importance for any business. That is one of the reasons why CRM systems now include personalized dashboards and reporting tools. With this feature, it becomes easier for you and your team members to view and access critical data with real-time updates from varied portals. That nurtures data-driven decisions, giving your business an edge over competitors. 

  1. Analytics

Analytics is necessary to find out how your business has fared on various fronts during a particular timeframe. Hence, it makes sense if we say CRMs are incomplete without it. With analytics, you can ascertain how each of your sales activities has performed, break down quotas into targets, obtain summary sales reports per week, month, or even a day, and much more.  

  1. Mobile CRM

Since everyone seems to be on their phones almost all the time, many CRM software solution providers offer mobile CRM apps and programs. In simple words, a mobile CRM feature allows you and your team to receive alerts and access CRM data on your smartphone, regardless of where you are. That empowers your business to offer prompt and quality services.

  1. Third-party Integrations

A business typically relies on more than one system to achieve streamlined operations and increased functionality. Hence, any leading CRM software offers third-party integrations with other relevant software, including accounting, email clients, and marketing automation software. That enables you to work with multiple solutions without any hassles.

  1. Security 

As there is going to be a large chunk of data, of your customers and your firm’s, CRM systems tend to provide you with the highest security standards. From role-based permissions on data access and data security to privacy compliance, security has become a top priority.

What are the Benefits of Using CRM Software?

Using customer relationship management software (CRM) is like having an organized set of pieces to solve a puzzle. You already have a headstart with all the things at your disposal, fully structured, putting you at an advantage. A CRM system makes you proactive that way. The platform empowers you with alerts on your prospects’ and clients’ activities, helps target new audiences and maintain relationships with the existing ones. And those are not the only benefits. Following is the list of how CRMs help you in more ways than one:

  1. Increased Customer Satisfaction

We now know how customer management software keeps everything related to maintaining your client relationships in one place, from client data to notes to metrics. That enables your sales, marketing & help desk teams to cater to customers in a more personalized, systematic, and effective way. If any issue arises, your team can find a quick resolution, thanks to the centralized customer data. That, as a whole, contributes to elevating client satisfaction. And their trust in your products/services remain intact.

  1. Improvement in Customer Retention

As you provide prompt and quality services with personalized attention to your clients, they are more likely to remain loyal to your brand. The more loyal clientele you have, the higher the customer retention ratio. 

Apart from that, a CRM software solution also helps you identify the at-risk accounts at the appropriate time to resolve their issues proactively. That, again, increases the chances of conversion and in turn, retention.

  1. Finer Internal Communication 

With a CRM in place, you can bid a farewell to the miscommunication and lack of coordination that often take place among different departments. The CRM software will provide seamless access, data sharing, and communication channels to disparate teams. In fact, numerous CRMs also come with built-in tools for collaboration. Multiple people can work simultaneously on a file, for instance. Such shared records ensure everyone on your team has access to the latest details all the time. 

That instills a sense of team spirit, making the whole workforce more collaborative, which ultimately, improves the overall productivity. 

  1. Optimization of Marketing Efforts

Marketing campaigns, if done the wrong way at the wrong time, yields no result. However, a CRM system helps you steer clear of that road. 

With CRM software, you are better aware of your customers’ behavior and needs. You can even segment them into groups, identifying the most profitable ones. That allows you to create and execute targeted marketing efforts based on the individual or the group’s interests over and over. At the perfect time, with the most relevant campaigns and promotions. The outcome? You can carry out more optimized marketing programs in a cost-effective manner.  

  1. Better Business Decisions

A CRM software solution provides you with all the right data, metrics, and trends you need – whether it is sales, marketing, generating leads, or revenue – to determine your business performance. Such regular, in-depth analysis puts you in a position to make not just informed but data-driven business decisions. And eventually, that results in opening up avenues for consistent business growth.  

  1. Greater Efficiency

The modern CRM software automates a lot of your traditional, repetitive processes with its advanced technologies. You can set up automated follow-ups with prospects, leverage chatbots, prioritize leads, schedule emailers, make automated data entries, and much more. That improves efficiency across your organization, saving you considerable time to invest in other vital matters.     

What are the Factors to Consider When Buying CRM Software?

Choosing the best CRM from the sea of available options can get a bit overwhelming. More so if you’re investing in your first-ever such software. The only savior here can be the knowledge of factors that make up an effective CRM software solution. What are those factors? Here’s a quick but comprehensive list.

12 Factors to Look For in a CRM Software 

  1. Seamless Accessibility 

An ideal CRM system offers seamless access, across devices, no matter where you are. It comes in with multiple platform accessibility and mobile-friendly design so that both your remote and in-office workforce can easily find the information they need, on-the-go. 

  1. Scalability

Is the CRM system you are contemplating to go ahead with flexible enough? It is something you need to ascertain before giving your final nod. The CRM solution you choose should be able to meet your growing business’s rising demands, such as adding more users or custom features, without any hassles.  

  1. Ease of Use

Who said the best-performing software has to be complicated to use? The best CRM software are those that are easy to use, even for a layman, yet pack in the highest functionality to get things done. The solution should consist of a simple interface and smooth navigation, letting you easily move around different functions. Moreover, it should have a shorter learning curve.

  1. Customization

Since your business is going to have its unique set of requirements, ensure that the CRM tool you select is customizable to adapt to them. From features to dashboard to views and reporting, the CRM software should be able to give you a personalized feel when you’re using it across all your devices.   

  1. Reporting

CRM will store and keep a track of a significant amount of your business data. The whole point of collecting this data is to be able to put it to work. Therefore, make sure that the CRM system packs in smart analytics and reporting tools, letting you review your business performance from time to time. 

  1. Not Just Sales 

To gain the maximum out of a CRM solution for SMBs, you must determine whether the software is designed to enhance each component of your business. In other words, the CRM should go beyond sales and include capabilities to optimize your marketing, customer services, and account handling practices. That will bring in greater outcomes and streamline operations, improving efficiency to a great extent. 

  1. Integrations

As a business, you must be using some software already like accounting, HR, and project management. Getting another system on-board doesn’t mean you’d stop using the other systems. Hence, it is important to select a CRM solution that offers smooth integrations with other software. Such integrations are essential to craft effective business strategies, save time and improve communication within your entity.  

  1. Vendor Reputation

The most vital factor when selecting a CRM software is to find out whether the software and its vendor have enough credibility and stability. A lot of reviews suggest that bigger is not better always or a lower cost doesn’t guarantee an effective system. Thus, you need to do a bit of homework by double-checking a few things; the most important being – if the provider has a proven, positive track record, the services they offer, the features, post-sales support, and training. 

  1. Support

Purchasing CRM software for business is not the end of the story. In fact, it is the beginning. The system should come with active support and after-sales assistance. That will help you find quick solutions to any issues that may occur in the future. 

  1. Cost

Everything comes at a price, and CRMs are no exception. Your budget will have a huge influence on your selection. And hence, you must review what all features the pricing of the CRM may cover and what might require additional stakes. Also, find out if the future upgrades would come at an extra cost. Considering all these components, along with the training, customization, and after-sales support, you may need to rethink your budget.    

  1. Data Ownership

Data ownership, one of the most indispensable factors, is at the center of your business operation and growth. Without the data, no business can run smoothly. That’s why it is valuable to ensure that the ownership of your data will remain with you, even when you opt for a cloud CRM software solution. Also, ascertain what will happen to your data if, in the future, you choose to end your current cloud subscription or migrate to another provider. 

  1. Social CRM Functionality

With the growing use of social media platforms to generate leads and interact with consumers, it makes sense to invest in CRM software that offers such capabilities. That would help you track brand mentions as well as communicate promptly with your customers.

What Questions Should You Ask Vendors Before Buying CRM Software?

Buying a CRM system is one of those one-time investments you will make for your business. And hence, you cannot afford to go wrong with it since migrating from one CRM to the other is both costly and troublesome. Plus, different CRM vendors offer different features and services. That makes the entire selection process even more confusing. 

Then what should you do? 

Have a detailed Q&A with the CRM vendors. 

But what questions should I ask?” 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a carefully assessed checklist of the questions to ask vendors before buying a CRM system. 

  1. Is this software ideal for my business niche or company size?
  2. How would you rate it for ease-of-usability?
  3. What will be the learning curve?
  4. Does it come with customization of features? If yes, how long will it take to implement them?
  5. How does the software fare in terms of security?
  6. What are its sales managing capacities?
  7. Would the software integrate with the other systems that we already use, let’s say marketing automation, for instance? 
  8. How does the client database work? 
  9. Does the software offer smooth management of activities?
  10. What kind of reporting does this CRM solution provide?
  11. Does this CRM include business intelligence characteristics?
  12. Would the system equip my team to provide active customer support?
  13. Does this CRM system offer social media integration? 
  14. Is the software capable enough to grow along with our growing business and its needs?
  15. Would there be additional costs for future upgrades?
  16. Do you offer 24/7 support? In what ways?
  17. What are the maintenance standards and terms if any?
  18. Does the software allow data imports/exports?
  19. How much would the solution cost? 
  20. Who would be the owner of the data the software would hold?  
  21. Is there anything that is not mentioned yet but I should know about the software?

How Much will a CRM Software Cost?

Pricing plays a significant role in choosing a good CRM system. And since there are plenty of systems from recognized vendors out there in the market, you will be able to find the one that fits your needs and budget. 

The cost of a CRM largely depends upon the features, support, and scalability it offers. And that’s exactly why you would come across substantial variability in its pricing. CRM software for small businesses may cost less than the one meant for larger organizations. Or a CRM with specialized features may have higher pricing. 

To give you an approximate idea, the pricing starts from about $10 to $12 per month per user for a fundamental CRM for small businesses. The advanced systems for bigger enterprises may range from $40-$50 to $150-$160 a user/month approximately. Some extensive CRM software may cost around $300 to $350.

If you are worried about the costs, there are free CRM software available as well from well-known vendors. For example, HubSpot CRM. You can also opt for a trial version before upgrading to a paid package. 

In the end, it all comes down to what your requirements are against the features. 

Closing Thoughts

Using a CRM software is no longer a luxury but a necessity for today’s businesses. After all, it puts the focus back on your customers, helping you to understand their needs, behavior, and interests in the most organized way. You get a reliable channel of communication, strengthening your customer relationships even further. All that while optimizing your business processes and backing you up with solid data and analytics. To let your business thrive through effective decisions. 

Are you already using a CRM solution? What are the benefits you have experienced? Feel free to tell us in the comments.