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CRM implementation: Building from scratch vs. customisation

  • Last Updated : January 24, 2024
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Effective customer relationship management (CRM) software is an essential tool for businesses aiming to build lasting connections with customers. Companies considering CRM implementation may find themselves deciding whether to build a system from scratch or customise a commercially available solution. Each approach carries its own benefits and challenges, demanding a thoughtful evaluation based on specific business needs, budget constraints, and timelines.

Understanding CRM customisation

CRM customisation involves tailoring an existing CRM system to align with existing business processes. Unlike building from scratch, customisation leverages predeveloped frameworks to allow efficient adaptation.

How is CRM customisation achieved?

Businesses can tailor modules, fields, and workflows to match their unique requirements. Also, the integration of industry-specific functionalities allows for a more targeted and specialised approach. Platforms like Zoho CRM and Zoho Creator offer intuitive customisation interfaces that empower users to modify the system without extensive coding. This user-friendly approach accelerates the development process and provides greater flexibility.

Benefits of CRM customisation

Efficiency and time savings

Customising a ready-made CRM offers significant time and cost savings compared to building a new system from scratch. The core system is pre-developed, reducing initial investment and expediting the implementation process.

Proven functionality

Prebuilt CRMs come with a set of proven features and functionalities. These have undergone testing and successful implementation in various business scenarios, ensuring a reliable foundation for customisation.

Rapid implementation

Since the core system is predeveloped, the implementation time is much shorter than building a new system. This allows businesses to adapt to changing needs quickly and without major disruptions.

Ongoing support and maintenance

Most ready-made CRMs are backed by vendor support and regular updates. This alleviates the burden on internal teams for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting, ensuring a reliable user experience.

Challenges in CRM customisation

Alignment with existing workflows

The off-the-shelf nature of a ready-made CRM may limit its ability to fully align with unique business processes. This can necessitate compromise or workarounds to specific workflows in order to adopt the CRM.

Vendor dependency

Relying on a CRM vendor for updates, bug fixes, and support introduces an element of dependency. Challenges may arise if the vendor discontinues support or if compatibility issues emerge, potentially affecting the CRM's long-term viability.

Overhead costs

When you buy a commercially available CRM solution, you may be paying for built-in features that aren't directly relevant to your business needs. However, your vendor should offer multiple subscription options to ensure you can receive the best value for your money.

Scalability concerns

Some off-the-shelf solutions may not scale effectively to support business growth. Specific customisations beyond the default options may be challenging to implement, posing potential scalability issues in the long run.

What does building from scratch mean? 

Building a CRM from scratch involves creating a completely custom solution tailored to the specific needs and processes of a business. This process includes designing the system architecture, coding the functionalities, testing extensively, and iterating through multiple development cycles to meet desired specifications. Unlike customisation, where a prebuilt foundation is adapted, building from scratch offers complete control over every aspect of the CRM's development.

Why do some businesses opt to build a CRM from scratch?

Custom-fit for unique processes

Businesses with unique processes or specific industry requirements may choose to build a CRM from scratch to ensure precise alignment with their needs, creating a solution perfectly tailored to their workflows and minimising compromises.

Strategic adaptations

Some businesses opt for full ownership of their CRM codebase to avoid any constraints imposed by third-party limitations on the future development of the software.

Enhanced flexibility

Building a CRM from scratch provides complete flexibility in design and functionality, enabling the development of a solution that caters specifically to the organisation's unique requirements and workflows.

Benefits of building a CRM from scratch

Tailored development

Building a CRM allows for meticulous control over the system's features and functionalities, ensuring the solution is tailored to your business processes. This level of customisation can provide optimal performance and user experience.

Scalability at will

With complete control over the architecture, scalability becomes seamless. The CRM can evolve in tandem with the growing needs of your business, accommodating increased data, users, and functionalities without major disruptions.

Challenges of building a CRM

Resource intensity

Time-consuming process: Creating a CRM from the ground up necessitates significant time for design, coding, testing, and refining through iterative development.

Financial implications: The extensive design, coding, testing, and ongoing maintenance phases can escalate development costs, potentially surpassing initial budget projections.

Expertise demands: Acquiring and managing a proficient team of developers and technical specialists becomes essential, leading to recruitment hurdles and intricate team management dynamics.

Higher risk of errors

The absence of pre-existing and well-tested functionalities entails a higher risk of errors and bugs. Identifying and resolving these issues may take time, potentially affecting the system's stability and performance.

Final thoughts

The decision between building a CRM from scratch and customising a ready-made CRM demands a meticulous assessment of your business requirements, budget constraints, and long-term strategic goals. A careful consideration of the advantages and challenges associated with each approach will guide you toward the most suitable CRM implementation strategy for your organisation.

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