Why your small business needs one system to organize customers and projects

Customer and project management are integral aspects of any business. Effective customer management lets you acquire and retain customers. Great project management ensures customer satisfaction.

Yet for many small business owners, figuring out the best tech stack feels like a distraction from day-to-day business. It’s tempting to sign up to glossy advertisements of project management apps and CRMs only to be left with disjointed data and lots of features you don’t need.

In this article we explore the key parts of what makes a customer and project management system for a small business and how you can create an integrated solution for your business in Skippet.

How does a small business CRM work?

CRMs consist of contacts & accounts

At its simplest your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is just a table of customers - if your customers are individuals, that is all you need!

However, many businesses sell to companies with multiple individuals involved. For this reason it's best to have a table of Accounts (i.e. the companies) and Contacts (i.e. the individuals), where each company can have many contacts. If you are just starting out or work with small businesses one table can be sufficient.

Table of accounts in Skippet with custom fields.
Table of accounts in Skippet with custom fields.

Tracking custom information

You can decide what information is worth tracking about each contact or company that's specific to your business. You will definitely want to track the stage where your client is in your funnel, for example, "new lead" or "qualified".

Here Skippet’s AI can do a great job in helping you figure out what data to track and in what format - simply describe your business or the services that you provide and have custom fields created for you. If you offer consulting services there might be a field for the type of service provided; if you sell products it might be a field for the product name.

Visualizing your CRM

Tables are the foundation but you may want to visualize the data in a more tailored way. For example, a Kanban board is great for showing your customers’ stage in the funnel. In Skippet you there are multiple views such as calendars, galleries or maps that help you make the most of your data.

Deal pipeline showing your accounts by the stage they are at in a Kanban board.

Getting data into the system

How does your data get into the system? With a small number of clients you can add it manually. As your operations scale you may want to integrate with the form on your website.

For example, contacts can be created automatically from meetings booked or form submissions with Skippet's Zapier integration.

A Zapier automation that sends client inquiries from Google Forms to Skippet.

How does a small business project management system work?

Project management systems store projects & tasks

Project management systems can get really complex. At the simplest level they consist of project and tasks. Projects require multiple tasks to be achieved. There may also be sub-tasks for each task for bigger projects or tasks that are recurring.

A simple project management system in Skippet consisting of projects and tasks.

Variation in project management systems

There are as many potential project management systems as there are companies.Furthermore, every person is likely to have preferences about how they want their work to be organized.

A project could be a video, article, website or product order - this really depends on the business. For each of those categories you might want to store different information. Here again Skippet’s AI can help you customize your system to your needs - both in helping you decide what information to track and how to visualize, for example by incorporating a calendar of deadlines.

With more people on the team, it may be worthwhile to create views for different people and set up notifications for team members to stay in sync.

The value in combining your customer & project management systems

As a small business, it’s easy to fall in the trap of purchasing dedicated systems for managing projects and customers. Below we outline some reasons why you’d be better off having one integrated solution.

Why manage projects & clients from one system?

1. Avoid confusion & duplicated data: If you carry out projects for clients, at the minimum you will need to know which client each task is carried out for. Having your clients in a different system (or in no system at all!) will at best mean that you will have to duplicate data across those systems. At worst, it will mean that you fail to deliver to your clients on time or that you team loses trust in the system that you painstakingly set up.

2. Save time & money: Learning and then juggling between apps takes up your precious time. Integrations, feeding clients or projects from one app to another, can be useful but they may also be hard to set up or maintain. On top of that, it is needlessly expensive to pay for two systems.

3. Generate insights on project & client level: How many tasks do you have to do for each client? How much time should you bill? These types of questions are easier answered if your data is in one system.

4. Automate workflows: Workflows that involve both client and project data such as client onboarding or time-tracking will be much more efficient if done in one system

How to combine project & client management?

The easiest way is to simply ask Skippet's AI to create an integrated project and client management system.

In the simplest setup, each project would be related to a client. This means that for each project you'd be able to pick a client from your table of clients. This way it's also easy to see all the projects and tasks that pertain to each client .

From here you can create different types of reports and automations that use both the data in your project management system as well as your CRM.

From your Accounts table you can see all the Projects and Tasks that relate to that account.

Get started with an integrated system

Try creating an integrated project and client management system system with Skippet AI. If you want to level it up, need help integrating with external tools or building more advanced automations, feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Check out Skippet in action.