We already posted on what to look for when evaluating cloud-based online business software.
Factors such as security, business viability of the vendor developing the solution, and total cost of ownership (TCO) are important criteria, but in the cloud, integration is one of the most important topic to consider.
When it comes to online project management tools, there are specific integration points that matter most.
In this post, we look at the five most important integration paths to consider in order to get the most out of your project management tools.
1- Project Management Meets CRM
After you acquire customers, one of the next step in getting value from a web-based CRM application is to integrate with your project management tool. By doing so, you can deploy projects across customer-facing tasks such as campaigns, funnel management or building customer cases. It is a great way to eliminate redundant or inaccurate information in both systems and to improve critical information sharing internally and with your clients.
We are seeing a trend of CRM and Project Management application providers integrating with each other. Clarizen, a leading provider of online project management applications, recently announced a tight integration with Salesforce.com one of the leading CRM apps. As part of this integration effort, all Clarizen projects, milestones and resources become native Salesforce objects, giving users a real-time synchronization between the two systems.
One of the main benefits of these integrations will be to efficiently manage projects when delivering on the services promised during the sales process.
We have identified a dozen of project management tools integrated with Salesforce.com.
2-Integration With Mobile Phones
Telling your client or a colleague that you don’t have access to your project information is no longer an option.
Many project management applications have developed a way for project managers to have access to their project information directly on their smart phones.
3-Integration With Tablets
Tablets are a good fit for project management. You can get a better visualization of your project tasks, time and costs than with a smart phone. There are already many project managers using their iPads for project management work.
Project management tools are an obvious use case for tablets and ReadWriteWeb recently published an article on four cool native iPad project management applications.
4-Project Management As Part Of Integrated Business Management Suites
For small businesses, the integrated suite of different business apps can be a good investment. With an integrated solution it is easier to deal with more complex tasks and business processes.
Most cloud-based integrated business suites will feature project management and CRM functionality. In some cases it also provides accounting, billing, e-commerce or even enterprise resource planning (ERP) functionality.
You can check a side by side comparison of integrated business management software featuring NetSuite, BrightPearl and Zoho.
5-Integration With File Sharing Systems
Another interesting integration capability of project management and collaboration tools is the ability to share files between different members of the project team.
Most online project management applications will offer an integration with file sharing systems such as Zoho Docs, DropBox or Box.net. To see how it works, you can watch this video on how to Integrate Dropbox & Daylite Projects
Image courtesy of Flickr user massenpunkt