Project management has been a persistent gap in Salesforce’s end to end CRM vision. Salesforce have relied on third-party AppExchange partners to fulfil the needs of customers, who can also choose from off-platform options. As Tim explained, “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…more often than not, this basic functionality is not enough for most of the teams.”
A demo of a new Project Management Tool (PMT) from Salesforce has surfaced, showcasing what the future of project management could look like on the Salesforce platform. The video has been live since the start of November 2020, racking up 23k+ views.
Salesforce PMT “provides a global view of your project portfolio to better manage and monitor projects, and project resources” (source: Salesforce). A project object tracks project status, and related tasks, cases tracks risks and issues, with Einstein Analytics dashboards for insights.
What we see is an internally developed package (to service the needs of the Salesforce Finance team) which has now been packaged and is (apparently) available to customers. While this is the official line from Salesforce, they have yet to provide links to further information. Rumour has it that some customers have already been shown the demo by their account executive. All we know is that Service Cloud Enterprise Edition and Einstein Analytics licenses are required. There are no confirmed timelines to report.
Let’s take a look at what Salesforce PMT does, and what the future could look like for AppExchange vendors.
Salesforce Project Management Tool Features
Here’s what makes up the Salesforce PMT:
- Project Record: status reports, tasks, milestones.
- Risks and Issues Logs (Salesforce Cases)
- Resource Allocation
- Embedded Analytics (with Einstein Analytics)
The project detail pages are impressive. Predefined status reports show project health (and why a project is ‘at risk’), plus the ‘path to green’ that makes a suggested next best action.
View related tasks:
- Due tasks (which can be filtered by due date by week/month/quarter),
- Delayed tasks.
Project Milestones are displayed in a checklist format:
Status updates can be published in seconds with a quick to update, slimmed down interface. And yes, it’s mobile ready, too.
Risks and Issues Logs (Salesforce Cases)
Risks and issues are managed using Salesforce Cases (why Service Cloud licenses are a pre-requisite).
The table displays the status, actions taken, and key decisions by stakeholders (surfacing case comments by defined stakeholders).
Leveraging Salesforce Case Management means escalation processes are easy to implement, and users can tap into Chatter to collaborate on a resolution.
Resource Allocation is a grid interface for project managers to enter their resource needs. Each row is an individual user, detailing their role in the project and their % utilisation for the specific project, month by month.
Line managers are on the other side of the glass, receiving information on projected resource needs, displayed in the ‘PMT Project Portfolio’ (Einstein Analytics) so they can strategically prioritize projects and allocate resources.
Here’s how communication around allocation can be made smooth and conversational with Chatter:
Although there may not be actual overlap under the hood, this capacity and workload planning seemed familiar. One could say there are similarities to the OmniSupervisor view in Service Cloud Workforce Engagement.
Embedded Analytics (with Einstein Analytics)
Insights across the whole portfolio are delivered using Einstein Analytics. The assumption is this is an Einstein Analytics app that will enable customers to ‘plug in and play’ these dashboards. See charts and graphs below that show ‘portfolio capacity’, ‘portfolio health overview’, ‘portfolio by region’, and ‘cases per project’.
Once you drill down, you can open a specific record straight from Einstein Analytics:
What’s the future for AppExchange Project Management Apps?
Until now, Salesforce customers serious about doing project management have had two choices: apps from AppExchange partners or off-platform options.
One may assume that Salesforce releasing their own project management tool could spell the end for these AppExchange partners. However, from what I know about the project management space, and previous Salesforce product releases that bought conflicts of interest, I believe the AppExchange marketplace will continue thrive.
There are two main arguements in the AppExchange’s favour:
1. Use case:
‘Project management’ can take different forms. Some AppExchange vendors cater to specific customer use cases; for example, TaskRay has defined their ‘sweet spot’ as complex customer onboarding. It’s unlikely that Salesforce PMT will fill all requirements for every customer.
Let’s look back at the Steelbrick acquisition (now Salesforce CPQ). The acquisition in 2015 didn’t kill off Steelbrick’s main competitor, Apttus. Instead, Apttus honed in on their strengths – Quote to Cash use cases that were in another league in terms of complexity.
We already know that there are two pre-requisite licenses for the Project Management App (Service Cloud Enterprise Edition and Einstein Analytics). These are not common licenses the average Salesforce customer organization has.
It’s not confirmed whether Salesforce PMT will come at an additional cost. If it is a separate add-on, the cost per user on top of core user licenses could make customers think twice. Even if Salesforce offered this app for free, the pre-requisite licenses would make it prohibitive for the majority of Salesforce customers.
Salesforce have sway to set the price at whatever they wish. We can look at products such as Salesforce Feedback Management, priced eye wateringly high!
In summary, there’s a high chance ISVs who offer budget-friendly apps will continue to attract customers.
All we have to go off, currently, is the Salesforce PMT demo video. While it outlines an exciting prospect for project management, there are too many question marks to say whether this will be the dominant, ‘go-to’ option for Salesforce customers. There are no further timelines on its general release.