CRM Systems: Build, Buy or Both?

For the majority of business CRM systems are one of the most important operational tools, but the real question is whether you should buy or build one. Many development companies claim that a custom solution is the best and only option while CRM providers argue in favor of out-of-the-box solutions.

In order to help you make the right decision, we will compare the three types of CRM systems in this article: custom, out-of-the-box, and custom with customization options. Ready to learn which type of CRM solution suits you best? Read below.

CRM Systems: Build, Buy or Both?

What is a CRM solution and why do you need it so much?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and is essentially aimed at automating and optimizing all the processes related to it. CRM covers a variety of processes, such as sales, marketing, customer service, data management and analysis, etc.

Hence, a CRM system is a comprehensive solution that helps a company better manage its clients, provides transparency in terms of a customer database, and offers deep insights into the clients and their behavior and preferences. 

Some may say that it’s too much of a hassle to implement a CRM system due to its complexity. However, think of the following benefits:

  • Better customer service: since a CRM system clearly displays all the customer data  (including past purchasing history, preferences, and preferred means of communication), it becomes much easier to provide efficient customer service. A sales representative can always check the customer’s profile and learn what to offer and in which manner.
  • Automation: a CRM system can offer automation of marketing, sales, contact center, and other processes. This, in turn, greatly speeds up the whole workflow in general. As well, your employees will not have to worry about such things as missed phone calls as the system is capable of automatically sending emails/messages or sending reminders about the planned call/meeting.
  • Data collection and analysis: since CRM systems can be integrated with other services, a CRM can collect the data from external sources and manage it as needed. But in addition to that, many CRM systems can also present the data in a clear and understandable way so it becomes easier for the employees to work with it.

In short, a CRM tool allows you to manage all your clients in an organized and partly automated manner. And there is no need to explain why happy and satisfied customers are so important for a business.

Now, if we talk about the types of CRM tools, they can be divided into two groups: by functionality and by development. There are three types of CRM software by functionality:

  • Operational: the main goal is to generate leads and convert them as well as to collect all the data. These CRM tools typically automate sales and marketing activities.
  • Analytical: as the name goes, this CRM type is all about data analytics. It analyzes the data and key performance indicators and helps organizations make data-driven decisions.
  • Collaborative: helps organizations share customer information across the departments. This increases transparency and allows collaboration which, in turn, hugely benefits customer service.

We’ve already covered these CRM types in our previous blog post – please have a look. So now let’s focus on the CRM types by development and see their pros and cons.

Custom CRM development

A custom CRM solution is one built from scratch. That’s right: you approach a development team (either in-house or outsourced) and request them to build a CRM solution in accordance with your specific business needs.

Custom CRM pros and cons

Here are the main reasons why some companies choose to build their own CRM solution:

  • It suits the exact needs of a specific business,
  • No unnecessary features,
  • Easy integration with third-party services currently being in use,
  • No fees for license or subscription,
  • Easier maintenance and updates,
  • Scalability and security.

However, there are certain reasons why custom CRM development does not happen frequently. Here are the biggest cons:

  • A very high cost of custom development,
  • A lot of time spent on the development,
  • A chance of bugs/errors in the system,
  • High maintenance costs.

When do you need a custom CRM?

In our opinion, a custom CRM solution is needed in two cases. Either when you have extremely specific requirements towards a CRM tool (that out-of-the-box solution cannot fulfill) or when you are an industry giant and custom CRM development will simply turn out cheaper than license purchase.

Out-of-the-box CRM solution

As the name implies, a readymade CRM solution is offered to you by a CRM provider such as Salesforce. These solutions range in functionality and are usually perfectly suitable for companies of any size and within any industry.

Out-of-the-box CRM pros and cons

Readymade CRM solutions are incredibly popular among companies – here are the biggest pros that they bring:

  • Immediate availability,
  • Lower costs in comparison to custom CRM tools,
  • A good choice of functions and features,
  • Integration with the most used services.

As for the cons, there are not many but they should be considered:

  • May not be suitable for your specific needs,
  • May have unnecessary features,
  • Licensing and support might be too expensive,
  • Dependency on updates and support from the provider.

When do you need a ready-made CRM?

Out-of-the-box CRM is a good option when you need a solution right away and do not want to spend time and money waiting for it to be developed. Whether you need a specific tool or a more comprehensive one, there are plenty of options in the market. 

Customizable readymade CRM solution

A customizable readymade CRM tool is the one that you can purchase from a provider but that can be customized by a third-party development company. This approach offers a certain amount of flexibility while providing the basic set of needed functionality to your company.

Customizable CRM pros and cons

This type of CRM combines the pros of both custom and readymade solutions: 

  • An option to include all the needed features,
  • Suited for your needs,
  • Scalability,
  • Instant availability.

As for the cons, they are as following:

  • Extra customization costs,
  • Possibility of lack of integration,
  • Costs for licensing and support.

When do you need a customizable CRM?

A customizable CRM is a great option when you want to start using the tool right now but plan to tweak it in the future. Many big companies purchase a CRM tool from a provider and then address a development company for its customization.

A case from SoftTeco: Johnson & Johnson

When Johnson&Johnson approached SoftTeco, the company already had a CRM solution by Salesforce. However, they needed an extra application that would help them leverage sales and collect the leads during the product presentations. The solution also had to be perfectly integrated with their existing system.

What we did was creating a highly functional iPad application with sophisticated back-end infrastructure. SoftTeco’s development team was responsible for both the front-end and the back-end part of the product, ensured its seamless integration with the Salesforce platform, and included all the required features. As a result, the app is capable not only of collecting information about the customers but also of inventory management, sales activities, and analytics.

In this way, we created an extra module for the existing CRM system in the form of an iPad application  – and this is a good example of what a customizable readymade CRM is. It implies the possibility of adding extra features and modules while keeping the core functionality intact.

Summing up

After comparing three CRM types and judging by our own experience, we can say that a customizable CRM tool is probably the best option. While you get a good package of features from the start, you also retain certain flexibility in terms of customization in the future. However, you need to find an experienced development team to carry out the customization part as the additional functionality needs to be integrated seamlessly with the existing one.

However, custom and readymade CRM solutions have their advantages too, and sometimes they can become a better option. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the needs of your business, project requirements, and budget.

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