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Building a CRM for Business: Steps to a Custom Solution Design

Building a CRM for Business

The intensifying competition across industries prompts businesses to better understand customer behavior and improve communication in order to lead from strength and build enduring customer loyalty.

That is why around 91% of companies with more than 10 employees adopt CRM systems. CRM apps enable companies to technologically advance their workflows and get into the heads and hearts of customers, allowing organizations to provide better services and stay ahead in their industry.

Even though out-of-box CRMs tend to be effective, many companies consider building a CRM system from scratch to meet their individual business needs. According to Capterra, organizations are not completely satisfied with pre-packaged CRM solutions because they lack critical features, are too expensive, have poor support, and are not entirely user-friendly.

Why are people dissatisfied with their CRM

Custom CRM software helps organizations build a healthy relationship with leads by providing the marketing, sales, customer care, and IT departments with the tools that drive results.

In this guide, the Ergonized team will help you dive into the process of creating a DIY CRM system, so you have a clear idea of what it takes a business to build and implement a custom solution with an existing IT infrastructure.

What is a Custom CRM?

A CRM, a customer relationship management tool, is an application that collects, organizes, and manages customer-related data. It also enables you to foster relationships between the business and customers through better communication. This can be achieved in numerous ways like tracking customer interactions, arranging communication via email, social media, or phone calls from one hub, and more.

But all businesses are different, and there is no one-size-fits-all CRM software that is equally effective for all organizations. That’s when ready-made CRM solutions are replaced with custom-built ones.

A custom CRM is a tailored-made solution designed and developed for a specific business. It addresses the company’s goals and is packed with the functionality that the employees need for enhanced productivity.

Custom CRM software enables companies to manage relationships with potential and existing customers more easily and effectively through a synthesis of functions found only in that custom application.

What Are Examples of CRM?

There are numerous readily available CRM platforms for businesses of all sizes. They have standard features that allow companies to build closer relationships with leads based on insights and accurate data.

For example, Salesforce is a go-to solution for small and medium-sized businesses that appreciate versatile functionality and scalability. Salesforce’s CRM helps employees focus on the customers and get a 360-degree view of their behavior through a user-friendly centralized dashboard that brings marketing, sales, support, and IT departments together in one place. The software boasts integrations with Slack, Einstein AI, and Trailhead to empower staff with efficient tools for more productive work.

Oracle Netsuite CRM is another mass-produced CRM app, which supports teams with real-time data about the company’s customers. Unlike Salesforce, it is meant as a complementary part of Oracle’s business suit rather than a stand-alone solution. This software has some features that allow your employees to get a deeper view of prospects, but it can be overly complex for small businesses.

What Are the Different Types of CRM?

Although CRM platforms serve the same goal – helping companies have more meaningful communication with their customers – they might come with a slightly different toolkit covering various facets of business-customer relationships.

  • Operational CRM is focused on streamlining business operations within the company that will positively affect the brand’s communication with its customers. Its core goal is to automate the workflows of sales, customer care, and marketing departments.
  • Analytical CRM will help your employees get to know the customers’ behavior better. It collects data from various sources and then gives your staff insights through reports, allowing them to make more informed decisions.
  • Collaborative CRM fixes the disconnection issues between sales reps, support agents, marketing teams, and other departments. Through this faster problem-solving between departments, customers get a better experience.
  • Strategic CRM provides the company’s staff with the data that enables building more personalized strategies for driving more leads and retaining the existing ones.

Types of CRM

What Features Can a Custom Built CRM Have?

Off-the-rack CRM solutions come with basic CRM functions that are capable of improving critical business metrics. According to the CRM Buyer Report put out by Software Advice, nearly everyone wants their CRM to have functions for lead management, tracking interactions, and setting schedules/reminders. Around a quarter of CRM users want to see funnel monitoring and sales pipelines among the app features. Also, sales automation, email marketing, reporting and analytics, and centralized databases are other sought-after capabilities.

Top-requested CRM Features

So, if ready-made software already comes with these features, you might be wondering if it is worth setting up a CRM system designed and developed especially for your business.

The thing is that most standard CRM platforms do not come with all the above-mentioned features in one software package. You can find some of the features in one app, while other functions will be available in another one. Making your staff switch between two apps is inefficient and complicated.

So, building CRM infrastructure for your business will allow your team to have all the functionality they require to reach the company’s objectives, all from one user-friendly app.

The greatest advantage of custom CRM development is that you can get the perfect app that meets your needs and can scale with you.

With custom-built software, you can customize:

  • Fields, forms, or other lead information entities
  • Workflows according to your organization’s policy and culture
  • Integrations that are essential for the employees’ productivity
  • Reports, analytics, and dashboard views
  • The buying experience by integrating various channels (phone, email, social media)
  • Modules (add as many or as few as your staff needs)
  • Responsiveness on different devices
  • Desktop and mobile software availability

Literally, a custom CRM can include anything your staff needs with just a few tweaks while excluding features that distract your team and bog down their performance.

What Are the Benefits of Customization in CRM?

Numerous pre-packed CRM apps come with rich functionality, which might cover the company’s needs to a certain degree. But when an organization aims at scaling and building stronger relationships with its prospects, then cookie-cutter software might not be enough.

Or another problem might occur. Your company has to pay thousands of dollars for the CRM application packed with features your staff will never use. In this way, you are wasting the company’s resources that could have been invested in the organization’s growth.

Custom CRM solutions help tackle these problems and more. Here are some of the ways custom CRM development can benefit a business.

The app that contains the perfect set of features

Every business is unique. So should be the techniques that allow the company to communicate with customers and grow.

By equipping the custom CRM software with modules and features the company needs, you boost the staff’s productivity and enable efficient workflows.

Moreover, pre-made CRM platforms frequently come with bells and whistles your business doesn’t really need, yet ends up paying for. So, you end up with even less bang for your buck.

Finally, a custom CRM solution will help your company stay ahead of the competitors and set more personalized strategies from promoting the brand among the leads.

In this way, as you turn to custom CRM design, you may include anything you want in the app as well as exclude anything that feels redundant.

Full control over app maintenance and updates

Although app maintenance might involve engaging extra resources (you will need to pay for database storage, and monitoring, if you do not have an internal IT team), at Ergonized we believe that gaining control over corporate software is a critical strategic advantage.

First, you can update the app anytime without waiting until the developer releases a new version. Thus, you will be able to immediately fix any bugs that affect your CRM operation right away.

Also, you can upgrade the CRM with new features as soon as your staff feels the need for them, a critical benefit for companies that prioritize more agile scaling CRM solutions. No matter how fast or slow you grow, your app will always grow with your business.

Integrations that feel right for your company’s staff

Your organization likely relies on numerous tools to perform business operations. Integrating customer-related apps or the ones your teams use for communication can foster more efficient workflows and improve communication with prospects.

With an in-house CRM system, you can sync data from various apps, even other custom products, in one hub to reduce the risk of data duplication and provide users equal access to timely information.

Clear layouts and app logic  for your employees

The greatest disadvantage of ready-made CRM apps with complex functionality is that they might be hard to use. It takes a substantial amount of time, effort, and money to train employees on how to use the software. A custom-built CRM can fix this issue.

Customized software can take into account the end user's particular needs,  leading to a more user-friendly digital product that meets every item on the company’s wish list.

What Should the Best Custom CRM Do?

Customer satisfaction has become the measure of sales success. That’s what Tiffani Bova, the global customer growth and innovation expert tells Salesforce. She also continues: “There are no sales pitches in the new Age of the Customer. Today, the name of the game is ‘customer experience,’ and the consumer is king.

So, a custom CRM platform should be responsive to market realities and provide the business with tools that can satisfy consumers throughout the entire customer journey.

For this purpose, a CRM should become a multi-faceted solution that fosters productive lead interactions and measures data throughout the customer lifecycle. It should have a well-organized database that gathers, keeps, and analyzes data about every client. A well-designed custom CRM would also combine operational, analytical, collaborative, or strategic features as well as sales, marketing, and customer care modules.

Since we’ve already glimpsed four types of CRM, let’s also see what stands behind the three core modules of the app.

Sales module

A sales module is meant to boost the efficiency of the sales department by providing the tools they need to stay at the peak of their productivity. This may include everything from tracking the communication with leads over the phone, emails, and more to cold outreach options, demos, pipelines, and closing deals. This module also enables tracking hot leads and their behavior, which allows for making more educated decisions about the behavioral patterns of every individual customer as well as the whole group. It is especially beneficial when sales agents are seeking to up-sell, down-sell, or cross-sell, depending on the situation.

All in all, a sales module allows for building more meaningful sales strategies based on statistics and reports. Also, it helps sales reps make personalized offers based on the lead’s interests and interactions with the brand.

Marketing module

A marketing module automates, streamlines, and tracks every marketing effort and activity as you try to reach more leads through various channels.

ACRM with an integrated marketing module will enable you to create, track, and analyze marketing campaigns across multiple channels, as well as plan and control budgets, manage workflows, centralize marketing materials, and track RIO. It might also carry out audience segmentation based on numerous criteria like location, preferences, and purchase history. With this module, you will also get real-time analytical data about marketing activities to inform the most lucrative and beneficial strategy for the business.

Customer care module

The level of customer satisfaction is heavily influenced by the quality of assistance they get from organization representatives, so this module allows the business to provide potential and existing customers with seamless support. By aggregating tickets, phone calls, emails, chats, and other sources for easy retrieval, a CRM system with an in-built customer support module makes it easy for department members to solve issues and perform their duties.

This custom CRM system might include a help desk, agent console, knowledge base, service analytics, and other features the customer care reps will require to do their job.

Reasons to Develop Custom CRM

If you made it to this section and are still wondering, “Why do we need CRM system?” stick with us. We will give you some more reasons for creating a CRM from scratch.

But first, let’s go over the instances when you should put off hiring a developer for CRM software.

  • Your company won’t be able to maintain the custom CRM, update it, train employees, and provide support for your staff.
  • You are not ready to invest at least $50,000 into the CRM app development (that’s the initial cost, but it can be more depending on the complexity of the software).
  • You want to reinvent the wheel and design a product that already exists

Of course, all of these issues can be addressed. So, putting these scenarios aside, there are plenty of positive reasons to build your own CRM software.

When You Want CRM That Scales with Your Business

When an organization gets an off-the-shelf CRM, it is frequently packed with standard features that factor into its final price tag. Your team might make use of some of them, while others might be left aside. A bigger problem is your employees might get confused with a complicated interface, which will require additional investment in educating the staff. In this way, the company wastes resources and money on functionality it doesn’t even need.

The greatest advantage of the custom CRM system is that you can pack it with the amount and type of features the team requires at this particular moment. In this way, the tool might stay simple and intuitive if your company’s reps don’t need many tools at the start. You can always upgrade the CRM with the modules or options essential for continual business growth later on.

When Your Team Needs Specific Integrations

Ready-made CRM solutions integrate with the most popular analytical tools, email services, and project management apps. But if your employees work with a customized call system or database that can’t be connected to a standard CRM, that’s when a custom solution comes into play.

A custom CRM system can become a part of the corporate software ecosystem built with other custom solutions or apps that can not be integrated with the off-the-shelf CRMs.

When Your Employees Require a Unique Set of Features

It might be challenging (or nearly impossible) to find a CRM system to satisfy your business objectives completely. Some apps might focus on operational processes while setting marketing or analytics aside.

A custom CRM is a remedy to this problem. Through close collaboration with skilled and experienced developers, your company will be able to get software with all the essential functions necessary for your employees to unleash their potential and create a deeper bond with customers.

When You Want to Get Fancy

Ready-made CRMs don’t give you the freedom to customize the layout, forms, functionality, or algorithms. Thus, it would be nearly impossible to stand out among competitors and provide a more personalized experience for your target market.

In contrast, a custom-built CRM will allow you to fine-tune algorithms so that the app reflects your innovative ideas and brand.

How Do I Create a Custom CRM?

As you work to figure out how to design a CRM system, let us help guide you through this process. Ergonized developers have vast experience designing, developing, and maintaining custom CRM platforms for various industries, so we are here to help you grasp the whole app creation lifecycle, custom build CRM system cost, and much more.

How Hard Is It to Build a CRM?

One of the questions that might come to mind as you are wondering how to create your own CRM software may be related to the level of difficulty of developing such a tool.

Based on Ergonized’s experience in delivering custom CRM solutions, we should say that there is no single answer to this question. The whole process will rely on the functionality you would like to add to the software. Thus, some CRMs might be easier to build than others. But in general, CRM systems are complicated applications that combine several modules, integrations, and dozens of features that need to interact with an internal database. And not to mention a smooth and intuitive interface that all users can quickly get the hang of.

Even if your organization has an in-house IT department, it is better to outsource the CRM development from a vendor who knows all the ins and outs of the process. Custom CRM design and implementation requires specific knowledge and developing skills acquired through years of both success and failure. Not only will you save resources by hiring professionals to build a CRM platform for your company, but you are also certain to get an ideal product with rich functionality much faster.

How Long Does It Take To Make a CRM?

Of course, you do not want the custom CRM development process to take ages. In some cases, you don’t have to wait long as the developers will deliver the product in a month or less. But in other cases, the custom software development might take six months or even a year.

Why do the timeframes vary so much?

Because every custom digital product is unique, the developers’ resources vary as well. So, let’s see what makes the most significant impact on the CRM delivery deadline:

  • How complex the app functionality should be;
  • How big and experienced the team is;
  • How the data is organized and how clean it is;
  • How big your company is and how many users do you want to add;
  • How many integrations you would like to set up;
  • How complicated the CRM automation is;
  • How much data do you want to migrate from the legacy CRM or database.

Here is the breakdown of the most popular CRM features and how long it takes to code them. You’ll also find the rough CRM development cost along with the estimated time of accomplishment.

Functionality ETA Budget
Contact management 40h $2,800
Calendar management 60h $4,200
Task management 200h $14,000
Basic reports 160h $11,200
Email marketing 60h $4,200
File management 60h $4,200
Pipeline administration 200h $14,000
Invoicing 140h $9,000
SMM integration 160h $11,200
Reporting module 200h $4,900
Integration & sync with 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 $123,9K

It should now be clear that the more complex your company wants the CRM to be, the more time the developers will need to write the code and test it. At Ergonized, we are backed by skillful and seasoned developers with years of CRM development experience under their belt, so we will minimize the app-building time, even for feature-packed software.

What Should a Business Consider Before Putting a CRM Program in Place?

Regardless of whether your employees already use a ready-made CRM or have never leveraged this digital product, implementing a new custom CRM solution might not be that easy. But certain things would ensure a smoother transition to a new platform for the whole organization.

How a custom CRM fulfills commercial needs

No matter how long you’ve been trying to dominate the market, if you have a business, it should have clear goals and market strategies. One or several objectives should be fulfilled by implementing a custom CRM. For example, you might want to automate the workflows to cut expenses or reach more leads through new channels. Think of your goals and define which CRM features will help you achieve them.

Allow enough time for adopting a new CRM

Developing a CRM system is not easy. But the most challenging part begins when the time comes to implement it. Just understand that it takes time for any employee to get accustomed to new software. Full results will take time. User adoption is by far the hardest part of the whole CRM implementation process, but with patience, it will come.

Think of the legal side as well

Most likely, there are some regulations in your industry you’ve got to adhere to run a legitimate business. For instance, you won’t be able to collect specific data about your customers due to certain privacy policies. If there are some regulations the developers should know about, you’ve got to mention them in the project documentation.

Align with the team

Your company has made a huge investment in implementing a custom CRM system, and you definitely do not want it to be wasted. That is why you’ve got to be certain every employee understands the whole idea of digitalization and will be able to make use of the new platform.

So, get the team on board and explain the benefits of a custom CRM solution. Motivate them and emphasize that the company’s focus is building relationships with leads and turning them into loyal brand fans, which is impossible without a strategy that can be carried out and tracked through a CRM platform. Also, you should make sure every team member is familiar with the app, how it works, and its capabilities, so take care of onboarding training to increase the odds that all users will benefit from this new digital solution.

Build a framework for measuring RIO

First, look for the potential return on investment at the f planning stage of the custom CRM solution. You’ve got to run the numbers to estimate the potential return, which is an essential step when considering the cost of a custom CRM. Define how soon and to what extent the CRM will benefit your company in terms of communication with customers. Of course, these would be rough estimates, but they will enable you to see whether it’s worth it.

Then, carefully track the RIO once your company implements the CRM to understand whether the upgrade is succeeding or failing. To measure the success rate of adopting a custom CRM, you’ve got to establish a framework. It includes much more than the price tag for the custom-built CRM and revenue. Here are the basic things we recommend considering when defining the RIO of a custom CRM.

CRM cost Net gain
The cost of CRM development Total revenue
Support fees (data migration, consulting, etc) The average revenue per sale
Maintenance Number of new leads
Upgrades development Cost and time savings from increasing staff productivity
…. Cost savings per lead

The list can be as short or as long as you want, depending on what your organization considers critical for defining the RIO of a new CRM app.

Take care of other app versions if needed

Around 81% of CRM users operate the software on multiple devices. There has been a huge rise in mobile CRM apps as they enhance data availability for employees, resulting in better productivity and higher adoption rates.

If a company's employees work at one desk from a single PC, it might not be critical to building a CRM that is responsive and compatible with other devices. But if your team works on the go or from different locations, a mobile CRM is a necessity. So, go over the functionality of a desktop and mobile versions with the vendor to ensure every user has equal access to the full suite of features, no matter the device.

Clean and organize data before moving it to custom CRM

Bad data is a timekiller for numerous organizations. Many businesses do not care about proper documentation, which results in chaos in workflows and errors.

If you are certain that your data is organized properly (it is accurate, free of misleading duplicates, and contains all the files), you can move the database to a new CRM. But we still recommend auditing the information just to be sure you do not overload a new system with redundant or inaccurate data.

For this purpose,

  1. Locate where you store customer data and gather it in one place.
  2. Organize the information according to specific criteria.
  3. Prioritize customer-related data based on the value to the business.
  4. Delete any duplicated or irrelevant data.
  5. Add any missing pieces of information.
  6. Create a unified system of data entry.

Migrating clean and accurate data to the CRM will save you tons of time in the long run.

Consider who will maintain the custom CRM

There are several options when it comes to assigning the party to be responsible for maintaining and supporting your custom-made CRM:

  • Your local IT department
  • The CRM developer
  • Another third-party service provider

Either way, you’ve got to find someone in charge of running the database, maintaining the server, ensuring security, and supporting the staff in case any issues occur.

How to Build a Custom CRM: Step-by-Step Guide

In this section, you will learn how to create your own CRM system by following predefined steps. The steps might vary from vendor to vendor, but we will guide you through the Ergonized CRM development process.

  1. Start with Planning

    If you were to ask the Ergonized team how to develop a CRM software that fits your company just right, we would suggest you start with planning.
    During the preoperational stage, you’ve got to get a clear vision of what your organization wants inside the custom CRM, what challenges it will solve, and who is going to use it. To drive these conclusions, you’ve got to define the core business objectives you would like to meet with the CRM. For instance, you would like to increase annual sales by 25% or automate the workflows within the sales team to let them communicate with more leads.
    Such well-defined goals will enable the developers to design detailed project specifications and select the appropriate technology stack. At this stage, you will need to define what CRM type you want to have and what modules you would like to include.

  2. Define the User Roles

    How to build a CRM platform if you have no clue who is going to use it? Of course, there is nothing impossible for our agonized developers, but we bet you do not want to waste lots of resources learning that you developed an app that no one is going to use. That is why you’ve got to know precisely for whom you are building the CRM.
    But you don’t have to limit yourself to building an app for one team only. The most striking advantage of a custom CRM platform is that it fosters communication between departments. It is commonly recognized that CRMs are built for sales reps, support agents, and marketers, but there could be more people involved to ensure a flawless customer experience. For instance, the IT or accounting department members might also be engaged to respond to specific clients’ requests.
    Another perk is that there is always a way to control who is granted access to this or that information or feature. That is why it is crucial to define the target groups of CRM users, describing their interaction with each other within the app.

  3. Work on Security Requirements

    Since CRM platforms gather, process, and store an incredible amount of information about leads and employees, it’s essential to keep security regulations in mind. So, before you get familiar with other tips on how to make a CRM app, make sure you outline the security regulations in the project documentation.
    You may also want to add enhanced security measures, especially if it corresponds to the company’s organization chart and policy. This might take extra time and money, but in this way, you can be certain that not a single piece of information will be stolen or compromised.

  4. Choose a Reliable Vendor

    The easiest and surest way of developing a custom CRM from scratch is to outsource it to a contractor with solid experience in this field. You might have a skillful internal IT team, but they might not be as adept in coding custom CRMs as the professionals who do it every day. This will cut down on all kinds of uncertainties and lower the development cost in the long run.
    You might consider several contractors to work on your project. Compare the cost, the tech stack of the vendor, portfolio, and reviews of their clients. Go with the company that is capable of satisfying your CRM needs according to your criteria (like price, deadline, etc.).

  5. Get a Rough Estimate

    Discuss the details of how to build a CRM software with the vendor following your first meeting. By that time, you should put together all the features, modules, and integrations together and explain how you see your future application.
    Ask the contractor to calculate how much does it cost to build a CRM system for your organization and request a rough estimate. You should know the minimum and maximum time and cost of the whole project based on the initial features.

  6. Start the Development

    When you agree to cooperate with a certain vendor and the legal formalities are arranged, the contractor will start working on your project. The developers will break down the project into sprints or other agile methods to organize the workflow and create a project roadmap with deadlines.
    They will start with creating a project prototype and workflow diagram. Then, the developers will bring the design mockups to life by rendering them into the code.
    When the code is written, and all app pieces are put together, it’s time to take the CRM for a test. At Ergonized, we arrange a meeting for the app presentation and involve the consulting team from your company’s side to assess the result. We consider all recommendations and modify the CRM until you are satisfied with the final product.

  7. Launch

    At this point, you almost have a complete answer to the question “how to build my own CRM”, but there are some important things still left. When the development stage is over, it’s time to deploy the custom solution and make it fit with your corporate IT infrastructure and workflows.
    For this purpose, we integrate the database with the custom CRM and install it on all devices, configuring settings, credentials, access, and more. To ensure a new application flawlessly gets adopted at the workplace, we will also train your staff to show them how they can make the most of their new CRM solution.

  8. Post-Project Support

    The most labor-intensive part is finally over. Your staff is leveraging a new custom CRM, but that doesn't mean the app doesn’t require continual maintenance. This post-project stage involves discovering how the system works, detecting and fixing bugs (if any), releasing new updates, or adding new features.

Wrapping It Up

A custom CRM is a great way to give your team what they need to make your business thrive by getting connected with more leads, delivering a tremendous customer experience, and making more insightful decisions that build better customer-brand relationships.

If you made it to the end, you now know how to build your own CRM system from scratch. But if we didn’t cover everything you need to be addressed, we are always available to share our expertise with you. Let’s arrange a free call and see how the knowledge and skills of the Ergonized CRM development team will meet your business goals.

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Written by

Dmitriy Sorokin

Dmitriy is developing the company’s financial expertise and helps clients to automate their business process with the help of Financial Services Cloud.

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