Pre-packaged CRM systems make the software more accessible to smaller businesses, but it also leaves a lot of room for improvement if you have specialized needs. As affordable and convenient as they are, creating a custom CRM solution may be just the thing you need to (finally) streamline customer relationship management across your entire business. While it may sound daunting at first, it’s not as difficult as it sounds—plus, this guide covers everything you need to know.
Why Creating a CRM System Is Worth It
Ready-made CRMs are no doubt convenient, but they are built with a broad audience in mind, so you get a broad set of features rather than ones tailor-made for your business.
When off-the-shelf CRM systems aren’t the best option, building one from scratch can transform the way you manage customer relationships.
The main benefit is that you can customize your CRM however you’d like. You get every feature you need without the fluff and distraction of features you’re never going to use. It’s hands-down the best way to ensure you get it all in one package.
Data security is another standout benefit of custom CRMs. With standard CRMs, you make compromises because the software has to support such a broad range of customers. From vulnerable third-party plugins to unsophisticated source code, these out-of-the-box solutions make hacking an ever-present possibility.
With a custom CRM, you have free reign to implement the most sophisticated security protocols to make your system impenetrable. For most, standard security is more than enough. But if data security is a chief concern, creating your own CRM is the way to go.
Bespoke CRM allows for full control of integrations, too. While some pre-built CRMs have open APIs, custom solutions let you build out even more custom tool stacks that work how you work, even if you use old-school, outdated apps.
Suppose you rely on time-tested apps and integrations. In that case, a custom CRM lets you keep your favorite integrations until you are ready to ‘upgrade.’
A custom CRM also makes it easier to link multiple departments to one standardized system (regardless of how they work together) in ways you could never achieve with a ready-made CRM.
With a custom solution, you can control every aspect of the customer relationship. This flexibility allows you to get creative with how you relate to your existing and potential customers, which you won’t be able to get with a system meant to work for the masses.
The Investment Needed To Create a Custom CRM System
Having an in-house development team or a background in coding and software development is a major benefit when creating a custom CRM system, but it’s not a necessity.
The good news is that you can hire freelancers, contractors, or an agency to help with the things you can’t do on your own.
CRM development services have dev teams ready to turn your CRM goals into reality. However, there are dozens of other expenses to consider—developing software is only one piece of the puzzle.
The actual cost of creating a custom CRM depends on the complexity and the features you need. Typical fees range from $30,000 to upward of $600,000, depending on what you’re looking for. We know that’s a large range, but it truly depends on what you need.
Most CRM tools cover a combination of sales, marketing, and customer support. Most also have operational, analytical, and collaborative features that help your team work together, streamline operations, and deliver the customer data you have in a way that makes sense.
So, there’s a lot to consider both in terms of time and money investment.
Sales automation helps improve your sales team’s efficiency. The typical CRM sales module has tools to record and manage the full list of current and potential customers. From talking to existing customers on the phone, sales calls, demos, cold outreach, closing deals, and tracking hot leads as they become customers are essential pieces of the sales workflow.
Common sales features that help with those tasks include:
Account Management – Has sections like Dashboard, Toolbar, Opportunities, Accounts, Tasks, Pipelines, Leads, and Contacts. This feature is the heart of the CRM software, allowing users to navigate different sections and functions. This feature costs between $35,000 and $40,000 and takes roughly three months to develop.
Sales Analytics – Helps reps to visualize sales trends. An advanced analytics section allows users to improve the data presentation by displaying data by location, timeline, color, or other filters. This section costs between $5000 and $10,000 and takes roughly two months to develop.
Sales Planning and Forecasting – Allows users to predict future sales and create sales plans. The section costs between $8000 and $15,000 and takes about two months.
CRM marketing tools exist to streamline, automate, and track marketing efforts as your business grows and your marketing activities expand to numerous channels or audiences. On a small scale, manual efforts do the trick. But those efforts will break down and become unfeasible as you grow—hence the importance of marketing CRMs.
Streamlining and automating marketing tasks helps save time while tracking and analyzing your efforts ensures you can continue doing what works with data-driven decisions.
Common marketing module features include:
Marketing Campaign Management – The center of managing marketing events. With campaign features, users can create and manage marketing events across multiple channels, assign tasks to team members, track the budget and ROI, centralize marketing materials, and analyze performance. The estimated cost for marketing campaign management is between $8,000 and $15,000 with an estimated four-month development time.
Customer Segmentation/Analysis – This allows for high-level categorization of customers based on purchases, preferences, world views, demographics, and behavior. Whether you want customers to segment themselves, automations that segment your audience as your list grows, manual segmenting, or a combination of them all, segmenting features can range drastically from simple to incredibly advanced. It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 to develop from scratch and can take up to four months of dev time plus iterations before it’s fully functional.
Marketing Analytics – Offers crucial real-time analytics of all marketing campaigns. From tracking individual pieces of a campaign and entire campaigns to comparing performance across channels or targeted audiences and analyzing the budget, getting the data you need is crucial to continuous growth. Building an analytics platform from scratch can cost anywhere $5,000 and $10,000, with a time frame of about three months.
Customer Support Module
Any CRM system worth its salt must have a customer-facing function, namely, support or customer success representatives. This functionality ensures customer satisfaction. This module aggregates all customer phone calls, emails, tickets, and chats in a database for easy retrieval.
Typical sales modules features include:
Help Desk and Agent Console – Provides an easy interface where support agents view requests, assign tickets, prioritize tasks, redirect tasks, and so on. This feature takes about two months to develop and costs from $20,000 to $31,000.
Knowledge Base – Offers support agents all the information and resources they need to solve problems and perform their duties. The knowledge base contains all the critical information about the product or service. It costs about $5000 to $10,000 to develop.
Service Analytics –This mainly helps to keep track of how efficiently the support team solves problems. The tool also records statistics about client requests from all sources, including social media, chat, phone calls, and email. This tool costs about $7000 to $10,000 and takes about two months.
The modules mentioned above are the bare minimum you need for a functional CRM in the real sense. You can also expect additional costs for:
- Staff training
- Technical support
- System improvements and updates
As you can see, creating a CRM from scratch requires a sizable investment in time and money. We suggest that you take a look at our Best CRM Software Review post here. You might find ready-made software that solves your needs, with no need to reinvent the wheel.
In any case, most high-quality CRM software supports integrations to supplement any missing features and functions.
The steps to building your custom CRM include:
- Launching the preoperational stage
- Choosing a development partner
- Getting in touch with your development partner
- Exploring your options
- Getting the design approved
- Rolling out the software
6 Steps to Creating a CRM System from Scratch
Once you’ve confirmed that a custom CRM is the only way to go, here is how you create the system step-by-step.
#1 – Launch the Preoperational Stage
The first step to building a CRM is to call a brainstorming meeting. Be sure to involve the sales, marketing, and customer service departments. The whole idea behind a CRM is to create cross-departmental synergy. Rather than have the different departments doing their own thing, a centralized system offers smooth transition throughout the sales funnel.
During this meeting, find out what the CRM requirements are. What do you want the CRM to do for your business? Come up with precise goals or assess the company’s current goals and how the CRM can help.
For example, if your primary goal is developing data-driven strategies, an analytical CRM makes sense. Alternatively, if your goal is to cut costs, a CRM heavy with automation is a great option.
Additionally, come up with the quality requirements for your CRM. You might be interested in software that meets ASTM, FDA, and ISO. Also, figure out the exact list of features you want from your CRM.
This is where involving the different departments comes in handy. Collect a list of task types from all departments and create a tree of functions.
#2 – Choose a Development Partner
There is a reason why market-ready CRMs exist. You might have the best development team in your industry, but its efforts are better geared towards its core functions.
To create a custom CRM that justifies its time, cost, and effort, you want to work with industry experts. Some of the factors to consider when choosing your development partner include their portfolio, industry experience, and previous client reviews.
We highly recommend ScienceSoft, a leading IT consulting and software development service provider.
ScienceSoft has more than a decade of experience creating custom CRM in a wide range of industries, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, finance, professional services, telecoms, and more.
Additionally, ScienceSoft partners with leading CRM vendors, including Microsoft and Salesforce.
#3 – Get In Touch With Your Development Partner
Once you have a clear view of what you want from your CRM platform and have identified a development partner, it’s time to leap. Getting in touch will most likely result in an initial consultation.
You probably won’t get a quote right off the bat. A sales rep will first discuss your requirements for the CRM software. You’ll receive a detailed questionnaire to help the development partner get an accurate sense of what you are looking for.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and for clarification during this stage. Keep an open line of communication with stakeholders and your sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Brief them on your discussions with the development partner as it unfolds. This step ensures the CRM solution satisfies all departments’ requirements.
#4 – Explore Your Options
Keep an open mind in the preliminary discussions with your development partner. It may turn out that you don’t need to build a CRM from scratch. Unless you serve a very specific niche or have precise needs, you could probably get away with customizing an existing platform.
This option is the sweet spot between off-the-shelf software and building the software from scratch. With customization, the framework for the software already exists. All you have to do is tack on the software modules you need.
These modules may include productivity, performance monitoring, or custom KPI creation and tracking. These highly customizable modules adapt to your business processes rather than forcing your business to adapt to the software.
This second option can save you plenty of time and money on your software development. Your development partner should guide you through this process.
Whatever option you choose, ScienceSoft includes the following functionality in your custom software:
- Sales automation
- Customer service automation
- CRM integration
- Customer and partner management functionality
- CRM data analytics
- Company-specific features
- Enterprise-wide CRM-based collaboration apps
- Marketing automation
If you choose to go with a different developer, make sure you are happy with what they offer.
#5 – Get the Design Approved
Meet with stakeholders and teams to approve the final design from the previous stage. Software that everyone agrees with is much easier to deploy when the time comes.
By now, you should have a reasonably accurate estimate of how long the development will take and how much it costs. Give your development partner the go-ahead. A good partner will keep you updated every step of the way.
By choosing ScienceSoft, you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects like code, environments, testing, and so on. The developer takes care of all this for you.
#6 – Roll Out the Software
Once everything is ready, you’re on the verge of deploying the software. Your development partner should support you every step of the way, including data migration to the new platform and training programs for your employees and team members.
It’s also a big plus to have a development partner that lets you in on the quality assurance and testing of your custom software. A good developer will be diligent about rooting out bugs, but only your staff will be able to truly put your custom CRM through its paces.
It’s at this stage where ongoing support is of paramount importance. CRM software is necessarily intricate and it will take weeks or months to stress test every element of it that you and your team will touch. Make sure you have a plan for emergent issues and a partner that will be quick to build patches and fixes.
Deploying your new software isn’t the end of the road. The business environment is continually changing and evolving. It is only natural that CRM systems, custom or otherwise, mirror this dynamic business reality.
Be sure to maintain an ongoing relationship with your development partner. You may have staff on hand capable of supporting the software long term.
However, your development partner is your best bet. They are intimately knowledgeable about the software, and you can avoid redirecting your IT team away from its core function.
For example, ScienceSoft offers support and evolution. The partner continually tunes the CRM’s features and processes to keep up with emerging user needs.
Additionally, the partner may help implement ongoing improvements to ensure that the system keeps up with the company’s digital transformation across time.
Also, consider periodic consultation with your development partner. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
You are likely to encounter challenges that the new software isn’t very effective at solving. Your development partner can help you figure out ways to improve the software and handle any minor or significant changes to your CRM system in this regard.