Thursday, March 10, 2016

Client and Project Management Tools: The Survey Says ...

Photo by Robert Douglass/Creative Commons
Thank you!  Yesterday, we posted a quick survey on client and project management tools.  We asked how you're currently managing your clients and projects, what tools are working best for you and if you're using software, which one.

Wow - your response was fantastic!  Thanks to everyone who completed the survey; we had many more responses than expected, which just gave us better results.

The question of project management and client relations management (CRM) apps has come up frequently for most of the small businesses and freelancers I work with.  When looking at their business processes, most have paper systems or they don't use anything more than an Excel or Google spreadsheet.  At the same time, these are the clients who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, but they don't know why.  They know they need to change something, but they're not sure what.

No matter the size of your business, setting up the right CRM and/or project management app can not only keep things in one place and give you a record of what you've done and are going to do in the future, it can also set you up for a time when your business has grown.  It's harder to set up apps when you have a dozen clients than it is when you have one or two.  It's definitely easier to try out different types of CRMs when you don't need them than it is to research when you're overwhelmed because you don't have a scale-able system already in place.

The survey results were interesting in this regard.  Almost half the respondents were in creative fields - writing, graphic design, art and so on.  Marketing came up second, but it wasn't even close.  Almost everyone lived in the Metro Austin area, although thank you to the one person from the UK who responded.

The majority of those who participated use a combination of software and paper.  No one uses a strictly-CRM app, while it's even between project management software like Asana and spreadsheets.

One person said they were using Trello, but they don't like it, probably because it isn't a good fit for the way they run their business.  Yes, it's easy, but it doesn't work for every situation.  Trello is best if you are a linear thinker, working with a small number of clients on no more than four or five projects at a time.  It also works well if you're sharing with your client.

The rest opted for a combination of Google Contacts, Microsoft Project, Freshbooks, Evernote and Asana.  One person uses three of those to manage everything, while others use one or another.

The reason businesses don't use management software was pretty much the same for everyone - either they think they're too small to need one or they don't have time to do the research.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!  Based on the results of the survey, we'll be looking at the top CRM and project management software packages, compare their prices (some are actually free!) and their pros and cons.  If you have one you use and really love or hate, please comment and let us know!