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Building a Custom CRM: In-depth Guide

Develop CRM software

Today customer relations management systems are essential for business operations of all types. Building a CRM is needed not only to store data about your clients and manage sales. CRM systems have become the core of business management for both employees and owners of companies, especially when it comes to marketing, sales and support. Thus, today many CTO’s are googling the request “how to create your own CRM software” to search for some helpful data about the benefits of these systems and their key features.

Building a CRM system helps companies to understand the needs of their customers and analyze their behavior, which, in its turn, allows them to significantly improve the quality of rendered services and customer experience. To make CRM easily accessible for employees from different screens, IT departments are also thinking about how to develop a CRM application and integrate it into their IT infrastructure.

Collecting the information on how to make a CRM system, the first step is to categorize them by purpose. They can be divided into three types:

  • Operational CRM is needed for sales, marketing and service operations. It helps businesses to get new contacts (lead-generation), store and operate all the necessary data and render support services to its clients.
  • Analytical CRM is meant for the top managers when they are elaborating the strategy of business development and rendering better customer service. Accurate data analysis, made by CRM software, helps companies to be more competitive and ensure its business spendings are hitting the right targets as well as its KPIs are in line with the current state of the business.
  • Collaborative CRM (also called strategic CRM) helps to build the necessary liaisons between different departments in a company as it shares the complete information about the customers among sales, marketing, technical and support teams. 

When companies are thinking of creating a CRM from scratch, they need to decide, which type to use - ready-made CRM product or custom-built CRM. Each type has its pros and cons, the choice is always based on the exact needs and expectations of each and every company. For those, who have no opportunity and desire to manage the system and support it on their own, packaged CRM solutions seem to be a better choice. Companies that are not ready to invest in software development, that will have the features these companies simply don’t need, select the development of a custom CRM system. 

Benefits of Building a Custom CRM

According to the Grand View Research data, the value of the global CRM market already exceeded 40 billion USD in 2019. Its penetration is as high as more than in 90% of companies, where the number of employees is over 10 people.

Custom CRM

Every business workflow has its unique aspects. Building a CRM will always start from the analysis of individual requirements of businesses. CRM becomes far more effective when it supports companies exactly when and where it’s needed at the moment. Managers can track potential customers and be sure that they receive timely attention. Sales departments have a more diversified toolbar of measuring the effectiveness of their activities and optimize their marketing efforts accordingly. Of course, these advantages are rendered by both custom and ready-made CRM systems, but those who decide to build a custom CRM, will get the following indisputable benefits:

1. The most accurate compliance with the business needs 

It’s impossible to develop a SaaS system that would meet all the possible needs of different businesses. Each company has its own features and peculiarities that are pivotal for them thus it’s crucial that they get timely support of a CRM solution. They decide that it is more effective to build their own CRM, as only a customized system can perfectly fit here and fuel the sales process exactly where it’s needed.

2. Better business efficiency 

When you build your own CRM, this CRM system is developed precisely by your company’s request, it “knows” all the peculiarities of its business and it can use this information in a smart way. For example, it can automatically categorize incoming emails, track all the leads, assign statuses to different tasks within the business process and ensure proper labeling of all the details for future needs.

All types of actions can be personalized without human participation, all the customers' statuses can be tracked, hence businesses can have an automated individual approach to each and every client.  In addition to that, custom CRM helps to finetune the accuracy of business forecasts, as all the necessary data is collected and analyzed by the system which can even make a preliminary forecast itself. 

How to develop a crm system

3. Scalability and flexibility

Rather a small number of companies have the same type of activities from year to year. In most cases businesses are constantly getting new requirements for its operations. The economy changes, clients have new needs and requests, the amount of employees changes too. That’s why a CRM system should be highly scalable and flexible, which is pretty easy with custom software solutions (with your own system you automatically anticipate the future success of your business), and quite expensive for those who use SaaS CRM software, as each system upgrade is an extra cost.

Before Building a CRM

Ok, you decided to build a CRM system from the very beginning.

Thinking of the necessary activities scope, you need to outline the main features of the software you’re going to develop and your goals. No need to be in a hurry with these questions, as they are essential and they will influence the amount of money you’ll have to spend on the project. All the aspects of your business should be carefully considered and all the processes should be described in every possible detail.

You have no idea where to start? Let us help you! Contact our developer's team for support! 

What is the CRM system pre-development check-list? The experience of many companies, who started building a CRM together with HuskyJam team, all had pretty the same initial project scope analysis. As by this experience, there are several basic things you need to do at the very beginning, including: 

1. Goals Definition

CRM is truly a cost-effective business tool and, together with that, rather a complicated type of software development. You can support every type of your business activity with CRM, but to make sure you invest in the most necessary areas, you better force the development towards the key business needs. That’s why the very first thing you gotta do is determining your goals and expectations. Those start with answering these simple  but essential questions:

  • Your CRM solution should be a full-fledged system, or it needs not to be too heavy as the main goal is just to categorize the data you store in papers and spreadsheets? It’s crucial when you develop a CRM.
  • What is your segment? The same CRM solution cannot serve the needs of B2B and B2C businesses, there are different requirements for each type that should be carefully considered in advance. You’ll save a lot of time and money if you think of that before you develop a CRM.
  • Are you ready to customize your CRM (and pay for every amendment) each time your business needs to upgrade this system? Or you have enough IT resources to build and maintain your own CRM?

When you think of your expectations from building in a CRM,  there’s no need to try to cover too many areas of your business at the very beginning.

It’s easier and more productive to focus on one or two key features that will solve some of your major challenges and become a great start of a CRM system that in the future can be further customized or developed by your request. Have a look at the list below to recap what is usually determined by companies as the main goals for CRM:

  • Increase the level of customer satisfactionIt can be raised significantly through the contact management feature of CRM. You can track each and every interaction with your clients and address them in a personalized way, thus they all feel that they are carefully treated by your company. Using custom CRM, your service team can react to all the requests of customers much faster,  and it also allows you to track all the leads and marketing campaigns from beginning to end.
  • Fuel up your marketing activities. When you know your client better and you can track the efficiency of different marketing campaigns, your investments into marketing become more reasonable, as the spendings are made in the areas where you have better client feedback. CRM software allows companies to segment the customer base and produce more effective marketing campaigns.
  • Get a new audience. It’s difficult to develop company services in strict accordance with the current needs of users without a stable two-sides conversation with the client. When you have your customers' feedback carefully stored and analyzed, you can enhance your offering and attract broader audiences. Advanced CRM systems offer nice marketing tools like audience segmentation by type (age, product preferences, etc) and targeted advertising campaigns development, which makes your brand communications more effective.
  • Increase sales. If you make your customers more loyal and you can offer them what they really need, and if your marketing campaigns are addressing the right people, it’s logical that more clients will choose to buy from you, not from your competitor.
Creating a crm from scratch

2. Determine the Necessary Functions

What are the functions that a CRM solution would undertake? Below you’ll see the main areas of automation enabled by the use of CRM:

  • Gathering leads. CRM systems automatically gather information about potential customers via special forms on websites, where the visitors are entering their personal data. In the sphere of offline sales, the managers can manually add the information about the customers to the CRM database. 
  • Marketing analysis and reporting. To develop a marketing strategy, no matter long- or short-term, you need to process and analyze a lot of data about your sales and customers, like statistics on the most clicked ads and websites with more prospects, and many other data.  CRM software is great support here as it aggregates all the necessary data, analyses it and forms reports upon different requirements.
  • Potential customers tracking. Businesses can broaden their clients' outreach by using CRM software. There are several indicators that show customers' interest and product preferences - which ads they are clicking, are they checking the links in emails or filling in website forms, which affiliate websites generated more traffic, and many others. All this data is captured and analyzed by CRM so companies can have a preliminary picture of users' behavior and some habits. 
  • Customer’s data management. Client relations become much easier when you have the history of all the interactions with the customers - what did they buy, at which price, when it happens, which manager was involved, what was the feedback and all the other information, collected during the contact with the user. 
  • Service upgrade. In addition to well-structured data about all the customers and all the interactions with them, CRM helps to carefully treat all each and every complaint, organize support requests and manage their completion status. Automation of this area helps to render the necessary services much faster and not to leave any single request without support. 
  • Client communications automation. Dealing with your prospects you can make it more effective by using all the communication channels - emails, SMS, chats in messengers, social media and many others. All of these are easily automated by CRM.

3. Determine your Digital Requirements 

As mentioned earlier, CRM systems are always developed to meet exact business needs. Indeed, they are capable of solving a great number of problems and fuel up the overall speed of business development. Everything depends on the functions and level of customization. To develop a highly helpful solution, first, you need to work well with your requirements. CRM software should be secure, easily deployable and available from any device, compatible with your digital environment and offer convenient forms of communication with clients.

Below you’ll see the list of the key points you need to consider when you work on a custom CRM system. 

  • Mobile support. Your employees will get a technologically advanced sales tool together with automation tools for marketing and business workflow execution if they can reach your CRM platform from any device. When you make a CRM system, first and foremost you need to make sure the system will have mobile support so the mobile app users can access the CRM data from anywhere, where they have an Internet connection. You also can broaden the communications options by adding SMS and calls for your employees within the platform. 
  • Key utilities list. There are several essential functions you need in your CRM - integration with different email platforms, chat support capabilities (better with AI components to offer live help to customers within a website), VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology integration, integration with social media management platforms (like Buffer or Hootsuite) that offer easily accessible customer information and help to rapidly increase sales.  
  • Security. Your CRM platform should create and maintain a running log of all actions of your employees and communications with customers. Together with that, your routine data should be backed-up and you better have point-in-time snapshots to avoid data loss. Activity audit allows to catch many problems manually and fix them much faster. When you make a CRM system, you should also keep in mind that within the company it is better to have different levels of access. Advanced access encryption prevents breaches and keeps your customer’s valuable information safe.

4. Determine SaaS Platform or Internal Software

Choosing between these two is always a challenge. It’s like having your own car or constantly using carsharing. Both have pros and cons. SaaS CRM solutions (Salesforce or many others)  offer a bunch of benefits, like easy and fast integration and a great number of functions.

Users of SaaS CRM have no headache with support and maintenance, as all of it is done on the platform side. All the data is stored in the cloud, hence such kind of CRM solution is cheaper at the first sight. But when you need not a regular solution, that would be appropriate for all the nuances of your business, a SaaS solution is less convenient. 

Custom or on-premise CRM solutions are developed upon your request and installed on your own managed servers. To create your own CRM software you need a team of IT professionals to finetune and maintain it, which is quite costly. But at the end of the day for larger businesses it’s more convenient, as they have full control of business-sensitive data and operations and the system itself is easily adjustable for any new requirement of the company.  

Not sure, which one is better for you? Drop a line to our team and we’ll find it out together! 

Key Features of CRM

Ok, now let’s check what are those features that were blessed so many times in the text above. We listed the most popular CRM functions, but it doesn’t mean to say that all of them are applicable to your company. You can use it as a detailed checklist for your CRM project.

1. Contact management

This function allows to collect and manage all the information received from the prospects, leads and customers, including:

  •  Contact Management
  •  Case Management
  •  Activity Management
  •  Shared Contacts
  •  Appointment Management
  •  Internal Collaboration
  •  Document and File Management
  •  Data Import and Export

2. Client interaction management

Having all the information about each interaction with your clients (invoices, purchase history and order status) accurately structured and easily explorable by search words works well for increasing the customers' retention rate as you never miss any detail thus you render higher quality service. In addition to that, you can filter your clientele by different parameters (purchase behavior, location of interests) which is a great plus when planning targeted advertising campaigns.  Its key functions include: 

  •  Account Management
  •  Interaction Management
  •  Payment Management
  •  Customer Segmentation
  •  Filtered Views

3. Database Management

The main asset of this function is to store all the records. In addition to that, you can share data across different departments (such as sales and marketing) and follow the liaisons between different records. 

4. Marketing automation

The main expectation of businesses from installing a CRM software is making marketing far more efficient. You can have a bunch of supportive actions to any of your marketing campaigns, including: 

  • Campaign Design
  • Batch Email Marketing
  • Autoresponders
  • Email Tracking
  • Triggered Email
  • Customer Targeting
  • Campaign Analysis
  • Campaign Delivery
  • Competitor Tracking

5. Lead Management

Sales managers strive to reach two goals - to get the new contacts (leads) and to manage them well. CRM is crucially helpful with both, as it automatically fulfills the following actions: 

  • Lead Generation
  • Lead Capture
  • Lead Distribution
  • WebForms
  • Pipeline Tracking
  • Lead Follow-Up

6. Sales Automation

This process can be automated to a very high level. With CRM businesses acquire an opportunity to get much more opportunities of selling their products as each lead can be assigned to the exact sales manager (and never missed). Companies can categorize their clients by groups - leads, contacts and, finally, customers. At each stage, clients get the offers they expect and salespeople can move each client from one category to another. It’s key features include:

  • Opportunity Management
  • Sales Collaboration
  • Territory Management
  • Win/Loss Analysis
  • Quoting

7. Employee Management

Standard business activities can be automated by CRM too. The employees can get a well-tailored actions schedule with notifications. The key characteristics of this feature include:

  •  Group Calendar
  •  Task Scheduling and Tracking
  •  Performance Tracking
  •  Employee Records
  •  Organizational Hierarchy
  •  Workflow Management
  •  Social CRM

8. Business Intelligence and Reporting

Analyzing your business activities, monitoring the level of your customers' satisfaction makes it easier to raise the level of retention. All of this is done by CRM as well as a customized reporting system, that can form different documents upon your request. The key features include: 

  •  Sales Intelligence
  •  Sales Reporting
  •  Sales Forecasting
  •  Activity Dashboard
  •  Revenue Cycle Modeling
  •  Business Intelligence
  • Interactions reporting
  • Marketing reporting

9. Data Management

When you create your own CRM, you get multiple tools that help you to manage corporate data about products, documents, procedures and customers (including all the interactions with them). It forms the knowledge base for all the employees and managers. It becomes perfectly convenient to share information with the newcomers or between different departments. With CRM in the place, you can have more opportunities in the following  areas: 

  • Document Creation
  • Knowledge Creation Workflow
  • Search Capabilities

So, How to Build a CRM?

Building a CRM reminds the process of the creation of a made-to-measure suite. You take all the measures, select the tissue and create an outfit that is perfect for you. Small addition - only for you. Every CRM is personal for a company. But the development process looks pretty much the same each time. Here comes the main phases of creating a CRM from scratch:

  • Step 1 Determine the type of CRM software that you need - operational, analytical or collaborative;
  • Step 2 Determine key CRM functions - sales, marketing, client relations, etc.;
  • Step 3 Select the platform - custom or out-of-the-box;
  • Step 4 Consider all the experiences and prepare the detailed budget;
  • Step 5 Put your CRM team of developers together and you can start! 

CRM Development Tech Stack

Tech Stack is very dependent on the type of company that needs to implement CRM. If this is not a technology company, then in order for its IT department to support this system and be able to cope with it better, it is worth choosing the technologies that are common in the company itself. For example, the company has everything built on Windows and it will be strange if the CRM system is built on Unix technologies. And for the end consumer, it doesn’t matter at all how the CRM system is built,  it is more important for the IT department.

In terms of security, intrusion and virus protection, it is better to base CRM systems on Linux or Unix systems.

Any CRM system is built on web technologies that are divided into frontend and backend. There can be any stack on the backend, the main thing is that there are modern popular technologies that are well-produced and in which there is a good community so that it can be easily changed and not be fixated on a unique technology. The more extensive the technology, the safer from a business point of view. For example, it can be Python, Java, PHP or Node JS. For the frontend it’s of course HTML and JavaScript frameworks, also it’s good to use React, Angular or Vue JS.

Any modern custom CRM system implies that there can be a mobile solution. It can be an adapted web version of the CRM system, which is not always convenient. It is much better to develop mobile applications, it can be native development or on different cross-platform solutions. Native standard development for IOS is Swift, for Android - Kotlin or Java. For cross-platform solutions - for example, Flutter or React JS.

It is worth thinking about the technological stack from the point of view of service infrastructure. If it is a CRM system for a large company with data terabytes and big data, then such a CRM system must be designed so architecturally that it could work on distributed service systems, for example, cloud solutions can be used.

How to Design a CRM System?

While working on a CRM system design, the very first step to take is to make a very detailed description of its functionality. The better it is done, the more your business will benefit from it. You can use the points listed below to compose your own features list.

  1. Describe specific tasks and goals that will be achieved by the CRM system. Here you need to see the final goal and understand the steps you need to take to reach it. In marketing, it can be attracting as many new clients as possible, or thorough work on retention. In sales, the focus might be done on the more advanced process automation and after-sales service. All depend on your goals. And it’s exactly the point when you need to think of them.
  2. Collect the requests from your colleagues and employees. You need to make your CRM a handy solution for everyone who will use it. To make it a great mediator between different departments, ask everyone, who will use the software about their needs and tell them to describe their standard working process. 
  3. Make different dashboards for different purposes. Departments within a company have different business routines and they need access to different pieces of corporate data. The easiest way to sort everything out is to develop separate dashboards for business units in a company and make several levels of access to the information. 
  4. Make your CRM more comprehensiveFirst and foremost - tend not to overload it with graphs and tables. Limit the number of elements displayed on a screen and put only those that are highly required during the working process. 
  5. Work with the feedback. Employees help to tailor the best CRM solution. It’s them who will make the most accurate workflow description necessary to design the most suitable and useful software.

Ready to try to design your own CRM and start to get more profit from your business? Drop us a line and we’ll come back shortly and well prepared to support!

How Much Does it Cost to Build a CRM System?

The budget for CRM development depends on the scale of the solution and its complexity. What would be great for SMB’s would not be enough for enterprise level, the price of a custom solution would be higher, compared to SaaS offering. The budget also depends on the amount of versions - will CRM have a mobile application, or it will be only a web solution? These features are calculated by developers upon an exact request. 

To give you an approximate understanding of CRM development pricing, let’s outline a standard development team:

  • Project manager
  • Analyst
  • UI/UX designer
  • Frontend developer for the user-side app
  • Backend developer for the server-side
  • QA specialist

If you need  a mobile app, the team will be bigger:

  • +1 UI/UX designer 
  • iOS developer
  • Android developer

The price range for CRM system development is wide. Depending on its features list and capabilities to upgrade, it will start from approximately $20K for web version and $45K for mobile version. It’s a draft estimate for rather a basic solution.

Conclusion

CRM is well appreciated by companies today as it can upgrade businesses and make their offerings personalized, no matter the number of customers. These systems significantly improve sales and marketing performance and centralize big loads of corporate data making it accessible for all the parties involved in the business development process.

With CRM you can have a very accurate analysis of your business data and finetune your development strategy relying on the most trustful figures and statistics. Automation of many processes allows heading the employees' efforts directly on the business development activities, as they will now leave all the routine to be done by the CRM. Needless to say, that investments in CRM bring fast ROI - companies get a bunch of new opportunities. 

To outline what exactly is needed for your company (today, in a year, in the forthcoming 5 years or more), you need to examine your business activities and processes. No need to do it alone, we’re keen on creating the CRM that makes the business development pace more dynamic.

Ready to try? Why not!

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