Can Salesforce Do Project Management?
Salesforce today offers so much more than just CRM features. However, if you want to manage projects directly in Salesforce, you will be disappointed to find out that there is no full project management functionality. Instead, you have these options:
Available but limited Salesforce features
Well-known project management apps
Salesforce-native project management apps
Let’s go over all of these options to understand which one would be the best fit for your organization.
Option 1: Basic Project Management Features in Salesforce
If you have very basic needs for tracking tasks and collaborating with your team of a few people, then built-in Salesforce features with some platform customization might do the trick for you. This is by far not the ideal option and it definitely does not substitute a real project management software, but it can be enough for small teams to start with.
Out-of-the-box, you can start tracking progress with Salesforce Tasks (without any task dependencies), collaborate with your team and share documents via Salesforce Chatter, learn key insights with Reports and Dashboards, and even use Process Builder to automate some processes.
However, more often than not, this basic functionality is not enough for most of the teams.
Option 2: Project Management Apps External to Salesforce
When your team outgrows basic project management needs, you might decide to try some of the well-known project management tools on the market. The obvious choice here might be Microsoft Project, Asana, Monday.com, Smartsheet, and so on. All of them are great tools that give you powerful functionality outside of Salesforce.
So, what are the problems with these external tools while using Salesforce? Such non-native apps are hosted outside the Salesforce platform and therefore require custom integrations with Salesforce through API and/or other 3rd party apps. Your data is sent and stored outside of Salesforce, which creates additional data security challenges.
This complicated integration process would often involve your Salesforce admins and external consultants, significantly increasing your overall software implementation budget.
Even if integration is done properly, you are still likely to hit some limitations. For example:
Limited data sharing between your external project management software and Salesforce,
Lack of real-time data access in Salesforce due to the usage of API calls in batches to transfer data. Therefore, it may take hours or in some cases even days to fully sync your data.
Need to be cautious during Salesforce releases, as your integration might stop working properly because of the new or retired Salesforce features.
Moreover, integration with Salesforce is likely to be supported only by specific plans of your project management tool as well as Salesforce editions. In most cases, that would mean that you would need to upgrade to more expensive plans on both platforms.
Option 3: Salesforce-native Project Management Apps on AppExchange
To save yourself the trouble of integration, you should consider project management apps that were built specifically for Salesforce and are available on AppExchange.
Main Benefits of Salesforce-native Project Management Apps
In comparison to external software, native project management apps have clear benefits. They are built using Salesforce technology, so no additional integration is needed to work seamlessly with both standard and custom objects within Salesforce. It also means that your project management software updates will be compatible with the latest Salesforce releases and new functionality.
Native apps offer endless flexibility. You can easily customize them to meet your exact needs, for example, by adding custom objects and fields, workflow rules, and more. Having a project management app integrated in Salesforce also allows you to further expand the functionality with thousands of other apps from AppExchange.
A 360-degree View of a Customer
With Salesforce-native project management apps like Inspire Planner, you can associate your projects to other Salesforce objects, such as Accounts, Opportunities, Cases, and more. This gives your team visibility on what is going on with each of your customers in real-time, as well as the ability to run various reports about your Accounts, Opportunities, etc.
By default, with native apps, you get the same tech infrastructure and security standards as Salesforce itself. Your data is securely hosted only inside Salesforce and it follows your current security settings and sharing rules.
You can also be confident that your data is synced in real-time, which is extremely important for reporting and analytics. By utilizing Salesforce Reports and Dashboards, your Salesforce project management app will provide you with the necessary insights on key trends and bottlenecks.
Native apps give you the advantage of powerful automation using Process Builder. For example you can automatically launch a project when an Opportunity is Closed/Won based on a specific template, with pre-attached documents, configured predecessors, and more. You can even predefine roles for completing the tasks and then automatically assign all the tasks based on these roles. And this automation can get much more sophisticated based on your specific needs.
There are three main options for managing projects in Salesforce. First, built-in features that can satisfy the very basic needs of small teams. Second, external project management solutions need to be integrated with Salesforce. However, with this option, you are likely to hit some difficulties and limitations in your integration. Third, the easiest and the most efficient option is a Salesforce project management app from AppExchange like Inspire Planner. Only such Salesforce-native apps can provide you with truly seamless integration and flexibility. The question is, which option will you choose?