August 3, 2020

Purchase or develop CRM software? The first point to address when you are going to utilize the CRM within your organization. Ready-to-use solutions are easier and faster to apply whereas custom CRM software opens great opportunities for customization. Something that helps to build customer loyalty and run the business from a long-run perspective. Thus we’ve decided to be more specific and explain what is custom CRM software, how to build your own CRM software what functionality to look for, and how to approach its development.

List of the content

BENEFITS OF CUSTOM CRM DEVELOPMENT

Customer relationship management (CRM) software enables organizations to automate, streamline, and synchronize interactions with customers and carry out the data analysis within the user lifecycle. Better customer service, improvement of internal processes, and understanding your clients that is everything you can get with a great CRM tool. How do you get the right one?

It is always a great idea to draw a comparison between available options and find the most suitable solution for your business needs. Either you decide to purchase or develop CRM software, the focus still remains on getting improvements in such areas as sales, customer support, and marketing. Only efficient customer relationship management could inspire loyalty towards the company as well as support good customer retention. 

Even though the market offers a wide variety of ready-to-use tools, a lot of companies would rather go with custom CRM software development. It is interesting to discover what drives their choice and how they benefit from it. We’d recommend taking a look from the long-lasting perspective and going deeper into custom CRM development.

Benefits of custom CRM development

  • Personalization – Creating a CRM from scratch means developing your optimal business solution. It is designed with clearly defined purposes that allow companies to include all the necessary functionality and respond to the market demands on the go.
  • Scalability – It remains one of the decisive factors since custom CRM development is more adaptable to changes. Maintaining high scalability enables the continued advancement of performance and shifting business strategies by setting new requirements on demand.
  • Specific integration – Standard solutions like email and calendar integration are available within every off-the-shelf software. However, it might be a different case with integrating other business processes like document flow, technical support, or SMM that are easier to cover within custom CRM development services.
  • Time efficiency – Correspondence between business workflows and covered functionality makes custom CRM software faster and easier to adopt. For instance, there is no need to spend a lot of time and resources on training in-house teams as they are already familiar with it.
  • Security –  At its core, CRM is based on data thus safety has to be taken at the forefront of any development. Building a custom CRM system gives more chances to make it less vulnerable as data server access is only allowed to the development team and the client in comparison with open-source ready-to-use solutions.
  • Cost – Customization fits any company, even though some doubt in spending on the development itself. In fact, custom CRM software is cheaper to support and customize. Any advanced functionality offered by off-the-shelf solutions is paid and usually limited to the number of users. Thus spending on monthly fees or purchasing additional licenses can be invested in custom CRM solutions you exactly need and utilize.

HOW TO APPROACH CUSTOM CRM DEVELOPMENT

Approaching custom software development requires a complete understanding of the process and what stages it goes through. Besides outlining requirements, you will know exactly what results to expect on each development stage, how long to complete, and what specialists to involve. Let’s have a look at these stages in detail and define what happens there.

Discovery & UI/UX design (3-4 weeks)

The essential stage that arranges the overall development process and outlines all the core requirements. It is important to understand that the process starts with the careful planning of custom CRM software functionality. With the assistance of business analysts, you’ll define must-have features and make the list of advanced functionality to add later. 

For example, custom CRM software won’t go without such features as contact or lead management whereas the third-party integration can be put off before the team finishes MVP development. Moreover, the purpose of this stage is to receive comprehensive documentation of custom CRM software architecture and Software Requirements Specification(SRS). It includes a complete description of chosen features, applied technologies for backend and frontend, and hosting approach (cloud, on-premise, or hybrid). It always covers the entire scope of the project while keeping in mind possible extensions like mobile development.

On their turn, UI/UX designers not only deal with essential elements and MVP design but also provide UI/UX final visuals including responsive design and use cases. Logical and useful content, intuitive navigation, configuration according to the users’ role that is everything that has to be completed before the actual development stage starts.

Custom development (12 -14 weeks)

Following the requirements of system architecture documentation, back-end developers start with setting up the logical and stable infrastructure. They deal with server and database solutions to deliver a robust and secure backend. As for custom CRM development, companies often apply cloud hosting as it allows managing resources according to specific business needs within consistent and flexible approaches.

Carrying out the process, we’ve come to the next step where the front-end development team can take over. It is recommended to divide their work scope into two separate parts:

  • MVP development – the delivery of the core features with the ability to launch it for the first group of users
  • Full-scope development – the completion of all outlined features for the initial release

From our experience, we can state that MVP development is an efficient strategy to check the product from users’ perspective and simplify the overall delivery process with resource savings. 

It is rather convenient for testing as it is completed gradually without heavy-featured expansions. It is obvious that CRM software development services go over the series of manual and automated tests. Testing can show some extra changes that are difficult to predict in the preceding stages.

The optional step remains mobile development for iOS and Android for those businesses that have decided on separate mobile apps. For example, they can build custom CRM solutions for sales representatives and feature them with additional sales tools. Such implementation easily goes in parallel with the main development project stage and you’ll be able to launch several products at once.

Post-launch support and updates (1-2 weeks and continuing)

Launching the custom CRM software is only half the way. The second part focuses on an efficient system running and getting users familiar with it. Their feedback is a valuable source of planning for further updates. Careful observation helps to maintain excellent performance and improve customer relationship management within your company. All the next improvements are completed by following the documentation guidance and checking on compatibility with the already implemented functionality.

CUSTOM CRM DEVELOPMENT TECHNOLOGIES

Choosing the right technology stack guarantees the implementation of robust, secure, and efficient custom CRM solutions. It is obvious that technology choice varies from project to project however all custom CRM development projects aim at delivering the distributed architecture that can maintain continuous interactions within the software. They need to be as specific as possible, oversee all the users’ needs, and meet specific requirements. Take into consideration that every CRM system needs to hold a large user base, handle the heavy workload, and deliver high security. Let’s consider the commonly applied technologies for backend and frontend.

BACK-END TECHNOLOGIES

JAVA is one of the most applicable back-end technologies as it has been on the market for more than 20 years. It has gathered the huge community of developers that favor its multipurpose approaches. It is a great decision for custom CRM development as it delivers layered architecture and handles complex data processing. The Java code is easily migrated between various operating systems as it’s backward compatible.

NODE.JS is a server-side technology that provides lightweight and efficient development solutions. It is often chosen due to advantages like free license, great performance, fast processing, and multitasking. Software built with Node.js backend is characterized as scalable, flexible, consistent, and reliable products. Its architecture enables code sharing and reusability that considerably increases the developers’ productivity. 

.NET is the object-oriented programming technology that simplifies development due to easily manageable and reusable code. It is a great solution for scalable products like CRM systems that usually require ongoing development due to constantly growing business needs. Applying .Net, custom CRM developers will be able to deliver fast performance, advanced functionality, and sophisticated software infrastructure. 

PHP is the open-source programming language that is greatly compatible with a variety of servers and often applied for cloud solutions. Developers benefit from rather flexible approaches and great horizontal scalability. Regarding performance, it might lose in comparison with others due to the interpreted code that is slower when handling heavy data. Thus PHP is commonly suitable for small and mid-size projects as it perfectly meets the basic needs of custom CRM development.

FRONT-END TECHNOLOGIES

REACT is the obvious winner among front-end frameworks. This JS technology is easy to maintain and build custom CRM applications due to open-source libraries and tools. One-direction flow allows handling each component directly and ensures code stability. The development team will be able to advance the user experience within custom CRM software and provide powerful functionality. 

ANGULAR is the JavaScript framework that delivers the component-based architecture to simplify maintenance and testing. However, the learning curve is quite complex and long because of dependency injections and component management due to two-way data binding. Also, it is important to take into account that Angular still works on migrating the legacy systems from AngularJS.

VUE.JS is a relatively new market player. This front-end technology carries out the logical structure and component file layout. It applies rather flexible approaches and is easily combined with some other libraries. Simplicity and clarity of development remain the main advantages of Vue.js. Custom CRM developers will definitely favor great performance, reusability, and simple integration solutions.

CUSTOM CRM SOFTWARE FEATURES

The key moment is that the companies are free to prioritize their goals and be rather specific according to industry, organization’s needs, users’ roles, etc. Let’s discuss in detail core functionality and nice-to-have features that can differentiate your custom CRM software.

Features of custom CRM software

MUST-HAVE CRM FEATURES

Contact management remains the main functionality of any CRM system. It manages and stores customer data like names, contact information – email, phone number and social media, associated orders and sales information, address for shipping or billing if required, etc. This feature allows you to keep the history of past interactions organized and quickly accessible. 

Interaction tracking – Well-planned custom CRM software includes the ability to review previous connections with customers in seconds. It is essential to track each interaction independently to know exactly what has been changed as it was automatically linked to the interaction records and visualized in the activity board.

Lead management aims at tracking prospective customers. It is always good to generate leads via different sources like emails, social media, advertisements, etc. However, adding these leads manually isn’t the best option as long as you can ensure the automatic feds from for example emails, chats, or web forms.

Task management – It is the most effective way to automate dozens of tasks carried out by the company’s staff. The functionality covers scheduling assignments, setting deadlines, providing automatic reminders on calls, emails, follow-ups, etc. 

Dashboard and reports – Constant monitoring via reporting is a powerful insight tool. We recommend applying customizable filters like time periods, leads, communication channels, complete orders, and visualizing the received data in charts, tables, diagrams, etc. It allows companies to overview their workflow in progress and define future improvements.

THE ADVANCED FUNCTIONALITY OF CUSTOM CRM SOFTWARE

Pipeline management – The introduction of the pipeline view helps to streamline the high volume sales process. It is designed to present how the deals are currently distributed as well as give the possibility to manage them at the same time. The structured cards in columns display sales progress and ensure quick status updates.

Invoice and billing management – Built-in invoicing allows businesses to bill customers directly from the CRM system. It ensures quicker quotes, automated billing, and the ability to get detailed reports on received, approved, and pending payments. Make sure to decide on fully customizable solutions with multi-currency support, flexible discounts, taxes, etc. 

Marketing automation functionalityIf you have any chances to optimize and streamline marketing efforts, do it right away. This feature helps to develop personalized marketing campaigns and target the most prosperous customers. It gets insights based on data and uses the customer-centric approaches. For example, you can send “birthday greeting” emails to your customers by offering some discount with email marketing automation or apply lead nurturing to share offers based on customers’ demographics, behavior, or buying stages.

Third-party integrations – External functionality integrations make business workflows smoother, maximize productivity, and focus on important aspects of your business. Email, calendar, accounting apps, analytical tools, social media, proposal management tools are among common examples to consider here. Bringing such services together allows you to save time and resources by eliminating the need to copy data from one tool to another as well as regular switching between them. Why not just gather all of the necessary functionality in one place.

CUSTOM CRM DEVELOPMENT COST

Taking into consideration the fact that custom CRM implementation cost considerably depends on the chosen features, applied technologies, and team composition, we’ve prepared the estimate for custom CRM software by considering all mentioned above details.

It is worth noting that the final price also varies due to the development rates in different locations. You can check the global software development rates 2020 to find hourly costs for most demanded specialists in popular destinations. If we draw the comparison for similar projects in North America and Western Europe, you’ll find that development price could be several times higher to build custom CRM software in the US than in such offshore locations as Ukraine, Poland or Belarus. The estimate for the sampled project is given using the average Western European rates.

SPECIALISTSHOURLY RATES
PROJECT MANAGER$60/hr
BUSINESS ANALYST$60/hr
UI/UX DESIGNER$45/hr
BACK-END DEVELOPER$70/hr
FRONT-END DEVELOPER$70/hr
QA ENGINEER$40/hr
IOS DEVELOPER$70/hr
ANDROID DEVELOPER$70/hr

Applying the following hourly rates, we’ve made an estimate of each feature separately to find out the overall custom CRM development cost, thus you can combine them and target your specific business goals. Moreover, the development timeline is calculated for the time of 2 back-end developers, 2 front-end developers, one project lead, one QA, and one PM.

  • Contact management – $10 000 (6 weeks)
  • Interaction tracking – $15 000 (10 weeks)
  • Lead management – $4 000 (3 weeks)
  • Task management – $12 000 (7 weeks)
  • Dashboards and reports – $20 000 (10 weeks)
  • Pipeline management – $13 000 (7 weeks)
  • Invoice and billing management – $5 000 (3 weeks)
  • Marketing automation functionality – $40 000 (15 weeks)
  • Third-party integrations (each integration) – $2 000 (2 weeks)
  • Android mobile app to duplicate the same features on mobile – $35 000 (16 weeks)
  • iOS mobile app to duplicate the same features on mobile – $35 000 (16 weeks)

How much does it cost to build custom CRM?

The custom CRM development cost for must-have features could be $60 000 whereas the advanced functionality price is also about $60 000 and iOS and Android mobile apps cost $35 000 each.

IN CONCLUSION

Managing interactions with customers is at the core of any business. It requires lots of effort and resources to bring customer relationship management to the highest level. Though there is nothing impossible if you are ready to work on it. Custom CRM development services are a perfect fit for any company regardless of how similar business needs may seem. You’ll be able to specify the functionality due to operating styles, inner processes, users’ needs, etc. Since finding the universal tool is hard, it is better to aim at creating your own unique and powerful CRM system. 

We hope that this article has helped to clarify the number of important details on custom CRM software as well as provide some useful advice on its implementation.

Need help with custom CRM development?

Learning how to create your own CRM software from scratch or thinking about advancing the existing one? Feel free to contact EXISTEK for more information. We are a software development company that has extensive experience in delivering robust, secure, and reliable custom CRM solutions. Visit our contact page or you use the chat widget on the right for further assistance.

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