Why Choosing a Custom CRM Software Is a Great Idea?

In  Development

When asking the question “Why would you need an off-the-shelf or a custom CRM system for your company?”, keep in mind that the relationship with customers is the foundation of your business’ success. Without a customer relationship management system (CRM) it will be very hard for your company to survive the digitally driven world we are currently living in. The management of customer relationships helps in building customer loyalty that will bring revenue and will help achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we are going to highlight the differences between an off-the-shelf and a custom solution, the differences between each software functionality, and we’ll offer you some insights that can boost your sales, ease the workflow, and increase profitability. 

What is an Off-the-Shelf CRM Software?

Off-the-shelf software is a web product addressed towards a large audience, at a worldwide level. Its purpose is to satisfy specific needs but is not aimed at a niched industry. An off-the-shelf CRM solution targets a mass-market audience and is also called commercial or generic CRM because it is a ready-made product built with a particular set of features.    

These commercial CRM solutions are usually more affordable, but you will get a generic product with basic functionalities, unnecessary features and a low possibility of customization. Based on your business management niche, the most well-known off-the-shelf products are SalesForce, HubSpot, Zoho, and Creatio

What is Custom CRM Software?

A custom CRM solution is a digital software product specially designed to accommodate a unique business model. This tailor-made software development helps you effectively manage the relationships with existing clients and boost the likeliness of your business to potential clients. We strongly believe that nowadays it is very important to monitor and optimize all phases of the sales activities, leads, contacts, and customers. A custom CRM will include features such as Customer Life Cycle and Workflow Management. The time spent on reports and statistics will be automatically decreased and your sales team can focus more on customers and ways to improve their activity. 

6 Drawbacks of an Off-the-Shelf CRM System

Off-the-shelf software might look like a good and cost-effective decision at first because they have a public history of trial and error. Some issues are kept in-house and you can’t find out about them unless you’ve already bought the product. Thinking about all your business needs, future changes in technology and your company’s growth, you might want to think about the following factors before investing in a pre-built system. We will show you 6 major reasons to consider before opting for this type of software:

1.Hidden Costs

The upfront investment will always be lower for a commercial CRM in comparison to custom solutions and this might be tempting at first. Additional costs will add up very fast and vendors usually do not disclose these facts. The first undisclosed cost is additional licensing fees. These fees mean that you have to pay for the right to be the “product owner” and use the software. The price structure and plan depends on the software provider, but in the end, this will have a big impact on your total bill. Usually, the charges are based on the size of your operations which may conclude in accumulating high licence fees just to perform basic tasks. Keep in mind that licensing fees are paid annually, disregarding whether you are using all the features provided or not. Another cost that may occur is the user fee which means you will have to pay an amount of money for each new user/account. 

2.Pre Built Software Features That You Don’t Need

Off-the-shelf business software offers a wide range of features because they are specially created for a broader audience and mass usage. They are designed to target as many industries as possible, which assures the fact that the software package will come with unnecessary features for your business. The cost of these features will show in the licensing fee, either you use them or not. 

3.Customization Capability 

Off-the-shelf software is rigid and very difficult to modify. Even if you consider at first that you saved some money going with this solution, you might want to rethink that. As your business grows or it changes, you won’t be able to make feature requests or upgrade the software, as you do not control it. To make the changes you need, you have to ask for the direct vendor support and you have to convince them to add the features you need. This may result in low chances of implementing your requirements or a very expensive investment in updates. 

4.Interoperability Issues

As your business already uses multiple operating systems, a ready-made software might cause compatibility issues. This means alternating your used solutions or changes in business practices. Gaps in communication and file-sharing will slow down your operations, will impact productivity, downgrade your team efficiency and will have a negative overall impact on your total revenue. 

5.Workflow Disruptions

The generic CRM solutions will require adjustments in your business operations flow to fit the provided software and not the other way around. This may need rethinking teams and resource requirements, switching to a different software solution or even implementing additional systems to fill in the workflow gaps. You might have to rely on manual data-entry to compensate for the lack of software customization capabilities. When your employees or customers find the user experience distressing, they will find their own ways to work and will create disruptions in the business process. In this case, your investment in CRM software becomes a waste of money.

6.No Competitive Edge

Another important aspect that we want to point out is the lack of competitive advantage when using commercial software. The chances are that your competitors are working with the same templates as you. To take your company one step ahead you might consider a customized solution. The lack of differentiation between your business and your competitors will diminish your competitive edge. 

Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf: Which CRM is Better?

Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf: Which CRM is Better

Buying a CRM is a big decision not only in terms of costs, but functionality and adaptability as well. It is very important to remember that the purpose of enterprise software is to support your overall business strategy and to ease your work. Being a long-term investment, it should not create extra barriers, instead, it should be a perfect fit for your business.

We have created the following comparison between the two systems to highlight the pros and cons of each CRM type:

Pros of Commercial Software

  • Generally available;
  • Very quick implementation;
  • Quick to deploy;
  • Low upfront costs;
  • Support usually included or the possibility of a maintenance contract;
  • The possibility to meet a large number of business needs;
  • Fixed price;
  • Onboarding and video tutorials;
  • Vendor support unlimited: customer service, customer support, and technical support are usually available 24/7;
  • Existing user community.

Cons of Commercial Software

  • May include hidden costs, monthly payments, upgrade costs, user costs or licence fees; These extra costs will add up and the total cost is going to be close or even higher than a customized software. 
  • May not meet all business requirements and lead to unnecessary investments;
  • May include functions or features that are not needed; 
  • Changes in your business workflow process might be needed to fit software functionality;
  • Security concerns or technical solutions may not align with your internal business guidelines;
  • Low chances of customization or very high cost of custom features;
  • May contain requirements that your business does not support or it implies additional costs to make them match;
  • May remain behind your business evolution, industry, needs, and future changes. 

Pros of Custom Software Solutions

  • You can build additional features and functions as your processes and business evolves;
  • Every solution is tailored to fit perfectly with your business needs, goals and security concerns;
  • Your team can adapt better to the software because it follows your business processes;
  • The CRM can be developed based on the software language and infrastructure/platform that you already use;
  • You will get the possibility of integration with legacy systems and additional systems;
  • You are the complete owner of the software;
  • Changes can be implemented faster;
  • You won’t have to pay licencing fees and you do not have hidden costs.

Cons of Custom Software Solutions

  • Higher initial cost and for some businesses might be a costly solution;
  • Changes and features added after the project was designed and implemented, might be billable;
  • Requires good communication between you and the development company during the software development cycle: features and requirements, design, development, QA & testing;
  • Employee training may be required on usage for the CRM system.

Our opinion is that custom CRM systems are a better choice because you get a tailored platform, built specifically for your company’s needs. You get rid of the unnecessary extras and you benefit from the experience of the software development company you call a tech partner. This is probably not the first CRM they are developing, so their history will help you get the platform requirements you need, without extra information to make it load longer and crash.

What You Need To Know Before Opting for Custom CRM Development

A custom software brings value to your company even if it is more difficult to implement initially. With this solution, you will get exactly what you need, perfectly fit for your business model and you only pay for the functionality and features your company needs.

Now that you have the overall understanding of how a generic software is in comparison to a homegrown CRM, we would like to give you some tips on how to make your custom software development better from the beginning.

  • Make sure the future CRM is convenient for end-users. The aspects to look for are: quick and easy access to important documents and fast reporting system generation. Employees should be able to communicate with your existing and potential customers directly in the system. 
  • Ensure the scalability of your custom software. It must grow with you as your business evolves.
  • Talk with the development team and agree upon a flexible system that allows you to change the settings for a specific process.  
  • Different technologies can be used for your CRM development based on your business size and specifics.
  • The new system must be compatible with already existing business software and with third-party integrations such as accounting software, email, messaging services, etc.
  • Do not forget about data protection as your future custom software will store valuable and confidential information about your company, customers data, transactions and many more. Ensure a high level of security requirements to protect the sensitive information. 
  • Analyze your goals and objectives and prioritize them when designing your custom CRM development system. Create the optimal set of features from the beginning, and include a client lifecycle, maintaining a client database, tracking sales activities, generating reports, tracking emails, interactions, sharing files and analytics. 
  • A very important aspect in today’s digital age is having a mobile-friendly CRM. 24% of companies witnessed an increase in sales productivity by using a CRM mobile custom application. This implementation will help both your sales team that works in the field and your customers.

Custom CRM Software – Where To Start?

We have compiled a checklist of actions to help you create the best CRM roadmap before starting the actual CRM software development. Follow the steps below to avoid common mistakes and make sure that your new CRM is simple, easy to use and powerful:

  • As a business owner, you want to make sure that your CRM system perfectly fits your business objectives and needs. Gather initial information to define these aspects and share them with your employees and decision-makers. 
  • Organize brainstorming sessions to conclude opportunities for future improvements in your customer relationship.
  •  The core focus must initially be on creating a list of basic functionalities and key features for your future piece of software.       
  • Make sure you have a clear scope of your CRM project. Consider specific metrics such as improving customer satisfaction rates, increasing the efficiency level of your sales team, establishing a data warehouse, etc.   
  • Sketch the technical requirements necessary to complete each task. Share the technology stack, processes and specific development environment with the CRM development team.
  •  Evaluate and estimate the costs to develop custom software. Prices will vary based on the complexity of unique requirements, development time and customizations. When calculating your budget take into consideration the software development costs, infrastructure, opt for support and maintenance, employee training, human resources, and approximate a future number of users. 
  • We recommend, as a best practice, to develop a business case and cover information regarding costs of needed resources, project time-frame for development and implementation of every sketched task.
  • Build a strategy for the launch of your CRM system implementation.    
  • Create a great team that will be responsible for implementing existing and future projects. You must include employees, managers, sales representatives, marketing team, operations staff, end-users and executives. Each of them will have important roles in the overall strategy such as documenting CRM requirements, promoting the new system to all users, system configuration, data migration, automatization of reporting, implementation of custom features and settings, improvements, team training, defining sales processes, feedback, etc.                                                                                            

Our Expertise 

Flowmatters Expertise

We strongly believe that a custom CRM platform is more than just a great idea. It is the best investment that you can make to ensure the success of your business. Bear in mind that the more data you have about your customers and prospects, the better you can serve them and satisfy their needs before they even know about them. That means a significant increase in sales which usually leads to a 5x-8x return on investment.

One of our custom CRM projects was made from scratch and implemented for the market leader in real estate from Romania. They have grown very fast and they needed a tool to improve customer experience. Therefore, they chose us, Flowmatters, to showcase their journey. We designed a tailor-made real estate CRM development that includes custom-built modules that suit their business requirements. The goal was to find the best way to store all the information gathered during the years and make it more accessible to everyone in the company and the end-users. Offers management, tasking, reporting, ease of access information, calendar, all bundled up in one place. Our approach was to first understand our partner’s needs to make sure we help them with the right solution. Constant communication and brainstorming sessions from both sides were the key elements of a successful project. We made sure that the new CRM system was mobile-friendly, it delivered a simple, fast, and easy to use offer management process. We created personalized modules for their work process and many more features specific to the real estate industry.

Find out more about our approach and work by reading this real estate project case study
As you have noticed by now, a custom and well-made CRM platform requires a lot of work, expertise, time, dedication, and expenses. To handle a rewarding customer experience management system implementation, you will have to invest plenty of resources to compile an intricate plan and assemble the right team. The good news is that we have an easier and faster way to do this. Contact us for consulting and implementation services. We have a great and dedicated team that will happily accept the challenge. We have vast experience in CRM development and we are determined to offer you solutions exclusively built upon your company’s needs. Let’s bring your business to new heights!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are companies interested in custom CRM platforms?

Because they recognise that customers are the most important asset of business success. They want to better understand their behaviour, needs while reinforcing the relationship with them.

Who will benefit from CRM systems?

Customers, companies, and their employees.

What are the main features of a custom CRM?

Personalized contact management, customised sales management, industry-specific automation, and mobile-friendliness.

Can I add new features or update my CRM anytime I want?

If you own a custom CRM, the answer is YES. If you choose an off-the-shelf CRM, the answer is NO.