So you’re already using a customer relationship management (CRM) program to automate simple tasks, organize clients, and improve customer relationships. Your team has been collaborating with project management software for a little while. Are you ready to sharpen your project management skills and take your team to the next level? Make Your Team More Effective As project manager, you have a responsibility to ensure every person on your team has the project management resources they need to do their best work. Many teams working in a project management program are doing so remotely. If your team is distributed around the country or world, it’s even more important you leverage the tools in your project management program to strengthen and engage your team. At its best, project management software bolsters your management skills, but, to fully realize its potential, you must lay the groundwork. A successful project kickoff meeting is one of the first steps. When you discuss the specifications of the project with the client(s) and your team in this setting, you can ensure that everyone is clear on goals, individual responsibilities, communication methods and expectations, deliverables, and deadlines. With the help of a project kickoff event:- you can create milestones based on an accurate, attainable schedule because everyone on your team is on the same page and moving forward together. you can set deadlines that will actually see completion. you’ll also be able to formulate a motivating task list to associate with each milestone. the best task lists propel your team to project completion. For example, if you were to create the milestone, “Organize Email Marketing List,” you could associate specific, small tasks with that milestone to encourage forward momentum, such as “Standardize Customer Data,” and “Categorize Each Customer By Market Segment.” Integrate Projects into your Everyday Business Many CRM solutions include integrated project tools, such as Insightly CRM with project management. If the solutions you’re using are not contained within one program, it may be time for you to look into something different. You know giving certain team members access to vital customer information during the course of a project is important. When your team is able to track projects and customer data over time, you know you’ve got a powerful tool for strengthening customer relations and improving company-wide project management. Previous project information and customer data can be used to ensure future project success–so don’t underestimate the importance of tracking data in your CRM over time. Project management software with app integration further empowers your team. Rather than simply using apps to integrate with other services you use, such as Google Calendar, use them to add functionality for your team. Apps developed specifically for your industry may be especially helpful. Some project management solutions market group apps in packs tailor-made for certain organizations. Automated tools When considering whether to implement an app or integrated tool, be sure it’s not overly complicated or confusing—it’ll only slow your team. Automation tools streamline workflow for everyone. The more steps you can automate, the more time you’ll save your team, freeing team members up to complete other tasks. Automatic reminders, for example, may help motivate your team. However, if you create so many that your team must sift through dozens every day, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Beware of apps that increase workload. After you implement a tool for automation, you need to check in with everyone using it to make sure it’s delivering the benefits you expect. If it’s creating more work, complicating a process, or causing more frustration than it’s worth, find a better solution as soon as possible. By including the people who use these tools in your decision making, you’ll strengthen your team and get better results in the long run. Communicate Even Better Poor communication can ruin deadlines or kill projects. The project hub and method of communicating project-related information should be the same for the whole team. Your project reservoir should be easy to access and regularly checked. If everyone uses email, ensure they have notifications for new messages and keep your eye on response times. If you’re using live chat, ensure that everyone is signed in and online during the appropriate hours. Use a forum-style project page to keep pertinent communication information in one place where everyone can access it. Understanding and implementing a workable project management solution is no simple task. It takes time to iron out best practices and get everyone up and running. When your team is using project management software, you can help them take their productivity to the next level with improved management skills and the right tool set. Images: ”Business project concept / Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). 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