Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Client and Project Management: A Quick Survey

Photo by Cinzia Delman/Creative  Commons
Two things all businesses have in common are clients and projects.  You may only be working with one large customer at a time, or you may have several going at once.  Regardless of the number, managing your past, present and future clients and the projects you're working on is very important.

Gaining new customers costs more in time and money than keeping your current customers, so handling their projects in a professional manner can only build on your business reputation, especially if it means meeting or missing deadlines.

I've put together a quick, five-question survey to find out how you handle your clients and projects.  The goal?  To find out what you find is the best way to keep control of your business.  I'll publish the results and some additional research to bring you some alternatives to how you're managing this now.

Each person has to find their own way to handle their clients and projects, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer.  Looking into different software packages and different methods only gives you insight into how you can be more efficient and perhaps take tips from others.  Who knows?  You might find a way to optimize your business.

Pete is a client running a fairly large SEO company out of a local coworking site.  He has all his customer and project information on 3-inch by 5-inch index cards he carries around in his backpack.  As he makes progress on a project or when change orders come in, he'll add a new line on the card; if he need more room, he'll staple another card onto the back of the first one.  Each new client gets a new card and new projects get stapled onto the back of the base customer card until it's completed.

Sounds a bit complex, doesn't it?  Is it any more complex than some of the combo CRM and project management packages out there?  At the simplest end is Trello.  When I started my third business a few years ago, I would put sticky notes on the wall and move the notes around as each item was completed.  Trello is much the same, although it's online and accessible through a mobile app.  You can add checklists to each card, upload any documents you get from the client and any documents ou create, so everything is in one place.

On the more complex end are two very popular packages - 17Hats and Basecamp.  Of the two, 17Hats is the newest.  It combines not only client and project management but accounting and bookkeeping as well, so you only have one place to handle everything in your business arsenal.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey here and leave any additional comments in the comment section below.  Let's see if there's a way to make you more efficient!