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How to Build a Custom CRM Software Making No Mistakes

Updated 26 Aug 2021

Published 27 Jan 2020

22 Min

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Customer Relationship Management software is a must-have for most firms. They allow to keep, access, and manage essential sales data and do much more.

I bet a lot of companies and business owners have thought about custom development CRM at least once. If you’re one of them, it's time to learn how to make your own CRM.

In this article, we're going to point out how CRM systems can save your money in the long-term and what it actually takes to build a CRM from scratch (from a time and money perspective).

What the Best Custom CRM Should Do?

CRM is a multifaceted tool that allows companies to scrutinize clients’ interactions and measure data throughout the customer lifecycle. CRM engages databases that are utilized to gather, keep, and examine valuable data they collect about their clients.

In short, CRM systems are the simplest way to manage new and ongoing customers in the most efficient way possible to extract the most value.

CRM software aims to strengthen business relationships with customers through retention and acquisition. So whether you’re a small company looking to store information and make it accessible across multiple devices or you’re an enterprise wanting to manage client interactions and focus on improving customer satisfaction, CRM systems will be applicable in both cases.

Why Develop CRM Software

The global CRM market size is accounted to be $128.97 billion by 2027. As a business scales and more clients come, business owners start looking for a flexible solution to manage rising data. This is where custom CRM systems prove their usefulness. Let’s examine the potential of CRM development relying on research insights.

U.S. CRM market size, by solution

U.S. CRM market size

According to FinancesOnline research:

  • Over 91% of business owners integrated CRM systems over the last year.
  • CRM can enhance conversion rates by 300%.
  • CRM software can boost sales by 29%.
  • Over 65% of entrepreneurs raised their sales quota.
  • CRM increases team productivity by 34%.

CRM software integration brings significant benefits to any service-based business: from e-commerce to healthcare and logistics. So let’s consider how exactly CRM can boost business growth:

  1. Keep tracking of all internal sales and marketing operations.
  2. Automate sales- and marketing-related processes.
  3. Monitor the employees’ productivity and ensure they deliver great customer service.
  4. Generate highly targeted messages to deliver tailored offers, thus, enhance customer satisfaction.
  5. Set up, handle, and improve clients interactions throughout the company's departments: from the first request to service provided.
  6. Gather and store business-critical data in a centralized CRM database and provide access to all employees to offer great support to all clients.

Why is it better to create your own CRM software? Here are the main reasons:

You need specific integrations

Ready-to-use CRM systems easily integrate with email services or social media analytics tools. However, if you work with peculiar tools to serve the customers and record their information, you need more than “box” solutions. For instance, it may be difficult to connect your internal database or customized online call systems to a template CRM system.

You need particular functions

CRM software providers submit different service packages with multiple features. In case you want to focus on one functional area (for example, sales), you just don’t require all the functionality provided. Still, ready-made solutions charge a monthly fee for full package service. As a result, your employees will spend more time searching for needed information.

You need individuality

Ready-made CRM systems are designed for the mass market. Therefore, you can’t customize their functionality, algorithms, and design. In this way, it’ll be challenging to deliver a personalized customer experience since packaged CRM offers standardized functions used by various organizations. Besides, what works for one user, may not work for others. In contrast, custom CRM websites allow you to bring unique designs and add functionality aligning with your preferences and business requirements.

Benefits of Custom CRM Solutions

There are hundreds of pre-packaged CRM systems like HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, or Freshsales CRM that can be used to solve multiple business needs. However, even though they offer rich functionality, there are some drawbacks you may encounter.

Imagine you own a clothing store. You’ve already launched a mobile app and adopted geolocation features to alert clients about special offers when they’re alongside. In this case, you intend to increase sales and strengthen customer loyalty. Thus, you need a CRM system to manage various marketing operations. This way, there is no sense to overpay for additional functionality, except the marketing-related ones.

Then, building your own CRM software will be the right decision. To prove this state, we’ve rolled out the main reason why you need to build a CRM from scratch instead of using turnkey solutions.

Reasons to build a custom CRM for your business

Why do you need to build custom CRM?

  1. Going in Line With Growth

Any software seems good at first. But only some are versatile enough to offer what fast-growing companies need. And even may not have everything for effective work in your business domain.

CRM developers often pack their out-of-the-box solutions with a load of features. Many of them focus on covering a bigger audience. It makes the interface less intuitive and brings troubles with staff training.

CRM solutions from vendors should only contain those features you need. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of money on customization and staff training.

Expenses on customization and staff training should be considered when choosing a CRM vendor. These are long-term investments you also pay for. Custom solutions are perfect in this respect. They only have those features you requested and designed to fit into your workflow.

There is a but. It’ll cost you a pretty penny to build and maintain the custom solution. On the flip side, it’s kind of a booster helping to be more effective and earn more if all done right. Think of it as a long-term investment as well.

  1. Improving Workflows

Building a CRM from scratch can do more good to business. It's especially seen when you incorporate it into different departments.

Out-of-the-box CRM system’s features are typically designed for a specific department like sales or marketing. If you decide to make your own CRM from scratch, it’s you who choose what departments to focus on.

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Integration with third-party services is another aspect that improves workflows. Let’s say a company’s processes are built around Slack and Dropbox. You may face pitfalls trying to make them work with turnkey CRMs the way you want.

And on the contrary, it’s relatively easy with custom solutions. You get a smooth data transmission from one department to another.

  1. Getting Scalable Solution

CRM can work as standalone software or become a base for your enterprise software. You can use it to build additional applications for different departments with a single database.

To make this trick with turnkey solutions, you'll need to find a vendor with API open for developers. And then pay for every user in a system and every additional program you add in there.

Building a CRM system for a company, you can do anything you want. Scale it when needed and modify it. But, you'll be paying for web development services.

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Types of CRM Software

If it's clear that CRM software development from scratch has lots of advantages for your case, then let’s take a look at several types of CRM.

Here are the types of CRM systems:

types of crm software and their benefits

Different kinds of CRM software

Operational CRM

It focuses on streamlining and automating sales, customer service, and marketing workflows. Operational CRM may have the following features:

  • Lead management
  • Contact management
  • Sales pipeline
  • Helpdesk

Analytical CRM

This type of CRM is able to source a huge amount of information from numerous touchpoints and process it. The system provides you with insights, statistics, and analytics data.

It's main purpose is to help with planning. The great advantage of these solutions is that they provide real-time data and analytics.

Collaborative CRM

All collaborative CRMs are designed to improve communication and teamwork. They create a transparent data sharing environment.

These platforms are usually packed with features for collective discussions, chats, shared boards. Users can easily share files and stream activities.

All these CRM types can be combined together into one versatile solution.

CRM Software Features

Since you already know the basics, it’s time to consider the features needed to make your own CRM system. To make this section as helpful as possible, I’ve singled out three modules with must-have, basic, and advanced functionality. But before moving to this part, let’s discuss how CRM software is used in different departments.

Usage of CRM Systems

Commonly, CRM systems are designed for the sales team, marketing specialists, and customer support managers. Since every department handles different operations, the required features will depend on the business area to improve. For instance, the features needed to design a CRM for marketers will differ from sales CRM required features. You can choose those appropriate for your case and make up your own CRM features list.

Who utilize CRM software

CRM roles

Sales

With the help of a CRM database, sales managers can easily collect and store clients’ data, automate sales, and tailor business offers to customers’ needs. Once the clients feel that you understand their preferences, they are about to bring higher profit. CRM sales core features:

  • Account management
  • Sales scheduling
  • Sales analytics with filters
  • Automated lead management

Marketing

CRM system enables the marketing team to plan advertising campaigns, establish commercial goals, and work with sales managers. Moreover, with the help of a built-in CRM calendar, specialists can schedule important marketing and sales events. Features that should be included in the CRM marketing module:

  • Sales campaigns management
  • Studying customer types
  • Business performance analysis

Customer support

When a client has a problem, they wait for fast and effective customer support service. Having all the questions and complaints stored in one place allows managers to address particular customer issues and come up with a solution in just minutes. CRM customer support functionality:

  • Informational base
  • Customer support interface
  • Automated analytics

Must-Have CRM Features

These are the core features every CRM must have to fulfill it's mission:

  • Manage contacts
  • Set reminders
  • Edit calendar
  • Manage tasks
  • Generate reports

These give you basic options for task management, keeping contacts at hand, and collaborating with the team.

Key Features of CRM

Let’s face it: the features mentioned above aren’t enough to have an all-in-one solution. I suppose they’re not the reason you’re reading about how to build a CRM system from scratch.

This module includes more niche features that can be used across diverse industries and companies.

Key features of CRM:

  1. Touchpoints tracking
  2. Email marketing
  3. File sharing
  4. Mobile version
  5. Pipeline view
  6. Invoicing
  7. Integration with social media
  8. Custom reports

1. Touchpoints tracking

This feature is needed to track the communication between company’s representatives and clients. This CRM system’s feature allows you to store information about customers and the whole history of partnership with them.

It improves overall customer service. Managers won't have any trouble with passing a client to another employee. They no longer need to spend hours telling about details of the deal.

2. Email marketing

The integration with the email system allows tracking communication with every customer. It’s very helpful if managers send a lot of emails every day.

CRM can perform mailing automatically using different letters for different groups of customers. What’s more, it’s possible to introduce a sequence of emails. The system will send them following the given parameters.

For example, if a customer opens the introduction email they get the next letter from a chain.

3. File sharing

This piece of functionality keeps all the documentation in one place. It also lets you share them between departments. You can set access levels to prevent employees from seeing files they aren't supposed to see.

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The system can be taught to register all records of working with files. In other words, you’d be able to see who's been working with a doc and look through the edits made.

4. Mobile version

If the solution is going to be used by sales representatives, then you should consider building CRM software with support for smartphones.

According to different studies, the productivity of sales reps grew by 26.4% after the introduction of mobile version. Additionally, 24% more of them began to achieve annual sales goals.

An opportunity to work on-the-go may boost sales. Especially considering that modern customers want to get in touch with businesses anytime and get a fast response.

If you want to build CRM software supporting mobile, it’s better to consider separate native applications. Mobile developers can build them with Kotlin (Android) or Swift (iOS).

Mind that it’ll certainly affect the CRM development cost. To reduce it, you can also try to adapt a part of CRM’s functionality to mobile devices. But it’ll rather be a poor experience for end-users.

5. Pipeline view

This CRM feature allows you to track all sales processes. With it's help, you can see on what stage each lead is at the moment (new leads, contact made, qualified, and so on).

The pipeline lets you spot the stage where you lose customers. And it’s simply a great feature to keep track of what’s going on with your sales at any moment.

Pipeline view feature and how it may look like in your custom CRM

How pipeline view may look like in your CRM

6. Invoicing

A sales-oriented CRM can be equipped with invoicing options like:

  • Searchable invoice history
  • Quick invoices to clients
  • Status tracking

One of the reasons to create your own CRM system is that you can integrate it with any third-party tools you need. It can be accounting software, payment systems or whatever else.

For example, you can sync data from your accounting software like FreshBooks with your CRM using API.

Invoicing CRM feature and it's possible appearance in a custom CRM

How invoices may look like in accounting software

7. Integration with social media

Studies prove that 51% of sales reps are more likely to reach their quotas with social sales. Also, they sell 78% more compared to colleagues who don’t use social media.

One of the use cases is to build or integrate a system that tracks mentions on social media (by hashtags). Businesses can use it to measure the interest in their brand and improve customer service (reply to messages with reviews).

Social media integration CRM feature and it's possible look in a custom CRM

How social integration may look like in your CRM (Source: Nimble)

That’s why integration with social media can be one of the key features in custom CRM systems.

8. Reports

Custom reporting is a source of insights and one of the most helpful CRM features. But reporting and methods of gathering data depend on your business needs.

Some can benefit from such data as demographics, sales, and type of leads. Others need something more to get insights into their work.

CRM reporting screen concept by Cleveroad

The concept of CRM reporting in the healthcare industry for personal trainers by Cleveroad (Source: Dribbble)

Advanced Features of Custom CRM

It’s time to move on to a more complicated tier. Here we’ll be discussing how to design CRM with advanced functionality for large businesses and enterprises.

Advanced CRM feature list may look as follows:

  1. Integration with third-parties
  2. Unity with other internally created software
  3. Call center management
  4. Tracking referrals
  5. Customer scoring
  6. Chatbots

1. Integration with third-parties

Different departments of one and the same company may use dozens of tools in their workflow. G Suite is probably among the most popular solutions. Research by GetApp Lab found out that 62% of SMBs would like to integrate Google Apps with their CRMs.

Developing a CRM system, you have to make sure all those tools used in the company can fit there. Be they connected with documents, letters or anything else.

How G Suite integration with custom CRM may look like

An example of Google Calendar integration into a CRM

2. Unity with other software

CRM systems are usually not the only software that medium businesses and enterprises build to make their lives easier. Companies often build (or plan to) such solutions as:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Warehouse Management Software (WMS)
  • Logistics Management System

They all have to work together fetching data from one another. It’s the only way to smooth and seamless workflow of the entire company. Otherwise, that may lead to loss of time and money.

So another piece of advice on how to build CRM software is to merge custom software together. Don’t forget to discuss this task with your software engineering team.

3. Call center management

Call center management is a good feature if there are a lot of incoming or outcoming calls in the company. The main features here can be calls from the system and automated tracking.

4. Tracking referrals

Referral programs are getting popular these days. If you’ve already created one, it’s a good reason to think about how to track it's performance in your custom CRM system.

For example, you can track down referred leads that ended up as customers and made a purchase.

5. Customer scoring

A scoring system would help sales reps to prioritize their tasks and sell more. Just let them score customers according to metrics that are important for your business.

For example:

  • Age
  • Geographics
  • Domain background
  • Income
  • Behavior on the website (filled contact forms)

You can assign a certain value to every parameter. For example, people filled the contact form get +5, those from target countries — +2.

How lead scoring feature may look like in custom CRM

How the lead scoring system may look like in CRM

6. Chatbots

There is always enough room for automation when it comes to building a CRM system. You can think through ways to get rid of routine tasks and improve the overall efficiency of employees.

Chatbots are surprisingly useful here. They’re able to automate dozens of tasks like:

  • Answering FAQs
  • Setting up reminders
  • Organizing meetings with colleagues
  • Onboarding new employees

Niche CRM Functionality

No doubts, it’s impossible to describe each and every feature that companies across different business domains may need.

Logistics CRM UI/UX concept by Cleveroad

CRM for logistics. Concept by Cleveroad (Source: Dribbble)

The above-mentioned features were formed based on frequent requests from our clients and market demands.

Want to discuss your feature set?

We'll help you define user-centered features for your own custom CRM software.

Things to Consider Before You Build a CRM from Scratch

To make your own CRM system, you should think through the following points:

Things consider before developing CRM

Things to consider

  1. Business Goals

All companies have their goals and development strategies. Before implementing CRM software into business workflow, it’s critical to figure out what you need it for. For instance, you are aimed to cut operational expenses by automating business processes. Or you want to modify the company strategy relying on analytics data.

  1. Set of Features

Set clear goals for your CRM, identify features, and tell about your expectations on how it should simplify business processes in a company. In the ideal world, all this should be documented and handed to your software engineers.

Market research: Cost of IT services in Europe and other factors to consider for choosing a reliable tech partner.

The more features you need and the more complex they are, the more money you’re going to spend to create your own CRM system.

  1. CRM Roles

It’s a good idea to create a breakdown by roles in the CRM (marketing, sales, support). Employees of each role will have access to certain functionality as well as information.

That’ll help you eliminate risks of data breaches between departments that aren’t supposed to see it.

  1. SaaS Platform vs. Internal Software

If you have any intention to turn your custom-built CRM into a software as a service in the future, you should start preparing tech background for this from the very first iteration of the product development.

UI concept of CRM for doctors by Cleveroad

CRM for doctors. Concept by Cleveroad (Source: Dribbble)

  1. Quality Demands

Jot down CRM quality requirements like the speed of operation, security access, built-in analytics, and database integration to comply with quality standards like ISO, ASTM, etc.

Any commercial activity is vulnerable to law restrictions. For instance, it may be challenging to gather potential customers' data due to privacy policy if you work in healthcare. Thus, you're limited in ways of promoting your product or services. All these peculiarities should be included in the project specification.

  1. Employee Onboarding

When deciding to create a custom CRM, ensure your staff members are ready to utilize it. Otherwise, you are at risk of failure. So, before looking for an IT company, you should decide who will be responsible for CRM management and consider the training part. Then, show your team how to utilize the software to collect business-critical information, monitor customers, track analytics, etc.

  1. Software Requirements Specifications (SRS)

Before specifying the feature list and final tech requirements, you need to scrutinize each company department to understand their tasks and how they communicate with clients. The obtained information will help you add the functionality according to your employees’ needs.

Custom CRM Development Cost

Let’s sum up and see how much does it cost to build a CRM system.

Custom CRM development cost

FeatureApprox time (hours)Approx cost ($)

Contact management

40h

$2,800

Reminders, calendar management

60h

$4,200

Task management

200h

$14,000

Basic reports

160h

$11,200

Email marketing

60h

$4,200

File sharing

60h

$4,200

Pipeline view

200h

$14,000

Invoicing

140h

$9,000

Integration with social media

160h

$11,200

Custom reports

200h

$4,900

Unity with other internal software

180h

$12,000

Call center management

200h

$14,000

Referred customers

60h

$4,200

Lead scoring

100h

$7,000

Chatbots

250h

$7,000

Total

2070h

$123,9

It’s hard to tell how much does it cost to build a CRM system without any project details. You can contact our managers to get a consultation and request project cost estimation for free.

In general, custom CRM costs may vary from $30,000 to $300,000 and up. It heavily depends on it's complexity and region where you hire developers.

The average salary of software engineers in the world are as follows:

  • USA — $92,046
  • Australia — $49,674
  • Germany — $53,713
  • United Kingdom — $40,497
  • Ukraine — $22,389

How to Create Your Own CRM Software: Step-by-Step Guide

CRM development requires thoughtful preparation steps due to the rich functionality that needs to be implemented. So let's take a close look at how to design a CRM to get the most out of it.

Steps to build CRM software

CRM system development steps

Step #1. Set Up Goals

Any process starts with planning. Before building a CRM, it’s crucial to write down the business goals and determine what challenges you want to solve. For example, you want to increase the annual sales quote by 20% or decrease your clients’ acquisition cost. The well-formed goals will help the software development team make the detailed project’s specification and pick the most appropriate technology stack.

Step #2. Select the User Role

One of the advantages of the CRM platform is establishing strong communication relationships between the company’s employees. However, each team member utilizes the CRM software depending on department-related tasks. That’s why you have to specify who you make a CRM for. For instance, the marketers and sales managers make use of data analytics tools, in turn customer support team need communication tools.

Step #3. Consider Security Requirements

CRM databases process and store an incredible amount of information, so it’s vital to protect clients’ data from being stolen by employees when they get off work. Building complex security models in CRM software seems to be a great idea, especially if these models are similar to the company’s org chart. Indeed, they require additional time and cost, and they’ll be inefficient when you conclude to reshape your org chart.

Step #4. Choosing Contractors

The fastest way to build a CRM from scratch is to outsource the development to an IT vendor with proven expertise in CRM system development. Outsourcing is an excellent opportunity to get first-class services for a reasonable price. Spend some time on in-depth research — from the company's portfolio to clients’ reviews on reputable B2B platforms like Clutch or IT Firms.

Step #5. Request for Rough Estimation

After your first contact with a software development agency, they make a rough estimate based on your initial feature list. Then the document indicates the min and max time and cost you’d spend on the whole project. It’ll help you to plan the budget, and make a decision to continue collaboration or not. Moreover, client-oriented IT vendors like Cleveroad make project rough estimation for free.

Step #6. Development

At this stage, design, project prototype, and flowchart diagrams must be submitted. After that, the software developers transform mockups into a working product following Agile software development methodology. The agile approach is perfect for developing CRM programs since it allows the engineers to go back to the previous stages, fix the issue, and continue the development process.

Step #7. Launch

After you’ve passed all the previous development phases, it’s time to present a ready-made solution to users. This stage implies that you launch the product and collect customers' feedback to understand where they're comfortable using your product or if something needs to be polished.

Step #8. Post-Project Support

CRM software needs to be maintained constantly due to its complexity. The team can support the software by studying feature behavior, adding new functions or updates, and making improvements based on users’ feedback.

How to Find a Tech Partner to Build Custom CRM?

As an outsourcing software development company with extensive expertise in CRM development (since 2011), we’ve gathered five practical tips for hiring the right development team to bypass costly mistakes.

  • Consider industry expertise. Pay close attention to the company's expertise to ensure that you get the desired product. The industry expertise accelerates the CRM development since the team is familiar with processes, required technologies, and challenges they may encounter.
  • Check the portfolio. Look through the solutions the company delivered before and see if they align with your vision for your own CRM platform.
  • Reviews. Read the clients’ reviews to decide whether it’s a good idea to deal with the company. It will allow you to manage expectations and be ready for possible challenges.
  • Time zone differences. If you decide to outsource CRM development overseas, you may encounter communication challenges. However, experienced outsourcing companies make individual communication plans for each client to schedule the meeting conveniently.
  • English level. English proficiency directly influences cooperation productivity. The team needs to translate the project’s requirements clearly and submit understandable development reports. Otherwise, you may get a CRM program that doesn’t correspond to your requirements.

The next question is “Where to find a reliable IT vendor?”. Try to start your research from platforms like Clutch or GoodFirms. They provide lists of service providers working in different fields.

Once, you’ve found an appealing company — dig deeper. Read reviews, check their website, social networks, try to contact them via messages and phone calls.

Cleveroad has profiles on both Clutch and GoodFirms. These platforms ranked us as one of the best software development companies in multiple reports.

Also, we have a background in building CRM software for different industries: finance, e-commerce, healthcare, and so on.

Ready to build your own custom CRM?

Our specialist will consult you and estimate your project for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

The cost of custom CRM development may range from $30,000 to $300,000 and beyond. The final cost depends on two principal factors: project complexity and region of the world where you hire software developers to do the job.

First off, determine goals you’d like to achieve with this software (e.g. streamline workflows, simplify reporting, and so on) and make the list of required features and functionality based on them. Once you have a more or less clear picture of what you want in terms of functionality, you may start looking for software vendors having the required expertise to breathe life into your custom CRM.

From $30,000 to $300,000 and beyond. The final cost depends on two principal factors: project complexity and region of the world where you hire software developers to do the job.

CRM is applied for any business that want to boost efficiency and customer satisfaction. However, it's mostly developed for marketing and sales teams, and customer support managers.

CRM features can be conditionally divided into three categories: must-have, key, and advanced. However, the must-have features aren't enough to deliver an all-in-one solution. The right way is to start with implementing the functions that users need to use the software on the basic level and gradually add advanced ones as the business scales.

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Comments

2 comments
I
InsightCrew
27.04.2020 at 07:14

Nice blog post! CRM really save the time and provide a complete hold on every department. Nice article.

I
invokker
05.02.2021 at 05:59

Great article! Useful and well-structured information, I like the list you have mentioned here. thank you for sharing such a piece of great information.

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