Ultimate Guide to Custom CRM Software Development

Aleksandra Velickovic

February 6, 2024

You’ve spent years building up your business, nurturing leads, and gaining new customers. After a certain point, your customer base has grown so large that managing your interactions with customers has become time-consuming and costly. The solution? Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, or better yet – build a custom CRM software solution tailored to your unique needs.

This guide will walk you through the entire process of developing custom CRM software for your business with the help of trusted bespoke software developers. Explore how to define your needs, find the right development partner, plan and design the software, handle implementation, and ensure high user conversion and retention.

What is CRM Software?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, is a tool designed to help businesses manage, track, and improve their interactions with current and potential customers.

Custom CRM software is a tool built specifically for your business and its unique needs. Unlike off-the-shelf CRM solutions, custom CRM software is tailored to your company’s requirements and processes.

CRM can be a game-changer for your business. It centralizes customer information and automates tasks related to sales, marketing, and customer service, all with the goal to:

  • Improve customer relationships;
  • Increase customer loyalty and retention;
  • Enhance sales performance;
  • Streamline internal communication.

Brand CRM software vs Custom CRM software

Off-the-shelf CRM software solutions like Salesforce or HubSpot work quite well for your standard business needs. But this is not the case for all businesses.

If your sales funnel is uniquely complex or you want a system tailored to your target clients, custom CRM development is the way to go. Building a custom solution gives you full control and flexibility. You get exactly what you want without paying for features you don’t need.

7 Benefits of Custom CRM Software Development

Developing custom CRM software requires investing significant time and resources, often measured in thousands of euros and months of coding and testing. Despite this, numerous brands claim the long-term benefits to productivity, organization, and customer satisfaction make it worth the effort. Here are seven key advantages when it comes to custom CRM software development:

Complete customization

You have full control over the system and can customize everything to your exact specifications.

Do you have a unique sales or service process? A custom solution can match your workflow with ease. Are there specific data fields or reporting functions you need? A custom build will incorporate those as well.

While off-the-shelf CRMs force you to adapt your business to the software you are paying to use, a custom CRM does the opposite – it gives you the freedom to adapt the software to your business needs.

Integration with other systems

While off-the-shelf CRMs tend to offer a variety of integration features, they have a generalist approach to them. You can integrate the CRM with other popular and established tools, which is great for companies that use those tools. But what about your less-known and more niche-oriented tools?

A crucial benefit of custom CRM is seamless integration with the apps and tools that your business uses daily. Whether you use custom accounting, marketing, or ERP software, a custom CRM software solution can be built in a way that integrates with those systems. This eliminates the need for duplicate data entry and ensures all of your data sources are in sync.

Scalability and flexibility

As your business grows and your customer base expands, your CRM will need to follow and accommodate your needs. Custom software is designed to scale with your company long-term without costing you more to do so. Additional users, features, and functionality can be added over time as needed.

Paired with the right database software development expertise, you’ll be able to not only process and store large amounts of data but also ensure that your CRM remains adaptable and robust.

If you outgrow an off-the-shelf CRM, you face the difficult task of migrating to a new system, which can cause a lot of complications. With custom CRM software development, you get a solution you can use for as long as your business exists. And even if it ever stops, you can still sell your custom CRM as a product to other businesses in your niche.

Increased productivity

With a tailored CRM, your teams have the tools to work efficiently and effectively. They can focus on the right activities and priorities for your business. Repetitive tasks are automated, freeing up more time for high-impact work. Employees feel empowered by a system designed around their actual day-to-day activities, which leads to:

  • Higher efficiency rates
  • Lower rate of human errors
  • Better internal and external communication
  • Easier conversion process
  • Better customer retention rate.

Deeper insights

A custom CRM provides insights into the metrics and KPIs that matter most to your company. Dashboards and reports can be customized to:

  • Track key performance indicators;
  • Spot trends;
  • Uncover opportunities;
  • Provide valuable business insights. 

With a better understanding of your customers, sales, marketing and operations, you can make data-driven decisions to improve results.

Enhanced experience

Your customers, leads, and contacts interact with your business through the CRM system. A custom solution can provide an experience tailored to your audience that strengthens relationships and builds loyalty

Every touchpoint in the customer journey is optimized, from initial outreach to onboarding to ongoing account management. Personalization and ease of use are built into the design.

Ownership and support

With a custom CRM, you own the software and have control over its support and maintenance. The developers who build your system can continue to update, enhance, and support it for as long as you need. They become deeply familiar with your business and software, providing services that generic CRM vendors can’t match. 

While perhaps expensive upfront, custom CRM solutions may save money in the long run through optimized efficiency and tailored support.

Start Developing Your Custom CRM Software Today

7 Key Features to Consider for Custom CRM Development

Custom CRM software needs certain key elements to make it worth the investment and hassle. As you develop your CRM software, it’s important to keep these ideas in your mind:

Robust contact management

The ability to easily add, update and manage customer information is essential. Your CRM should allow you to track names, emails, phone numbers, addresses, company details, communication history, and any custom fields you require. Make contact management intuitive and robust.

Opportunity tracking

The ability to track potential deals and opportunities is vital for any business. Your custom CRM should provide an easy way to record details like customer interests, correspondence documents, reminders, predictions, and a forecasted close date. This helps ensure no opportunity slips through the cracks.

Task and reminder management

Never miss another important task or follow up again. An effective CRM provides tools to create, assign and schedule tasks and reminders. Set due dates, priorities and reminders to keep your team on track. Integrate reminders into an overall calendar view for maximum visibility.

Reporting and dashboards

Data is only helpful if you can gain insights from it. Your custom CRM dashboard should provide easy access to reports and analytics that can present key metrics such as:

  • Sales performance;
  • Lead pipeline;
  • Customer interaction;
  • Target audience demographics;
  • Bounce rate;
  • Abandoned carts, etc.

Make data easy to filter, sort and analyze. Only by doing so will you be able to fully take advantage of your CRM system.

Integrations

A modern CRM solution integrates with tools you already use to maximize functionality. Common integrations include email, calendar, accounting, ERP, marketing automation, and file-sharing apps. Develop an open API to allow third-party integrations as well. Consider leveraging cloud development solutions to enhance the performance of your CRM.

Scalability

Choose a platform and infrastructure for your CRM that can scale with your business. As your company grows, your CRM should be able to handle more contacts, increased usage, larger storage needs and expanded feature sets without performance issues. Plan for future scaling needs during the building stage – it will save you a lot of trouble down the track.

Security

Customer data is sensitive and private. Your custom CRM needs to have security measures in place like SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, IP restriction, and granular user permissions. Conduct regular audits to ensure no vulnerabilities exist that could compromise customer data. Cybersecurity management should be a top priority when it comes to protecting the privacy of your customers and employees.

How to Plan Your Custom CRM Project in 4 Simple Steps

To develop a custom CRM that meets your unique business needs, careful planning and preparation are a necessity. Follow these steps to get started:

#1: Determine your goals

What do you want to achieve with a custom CRM? Some common goals include:

  • Improving sales processes and increasing revenue 
  • Enhancing customer service and support
  • Gaining valuable customer insights through reports and analytics
  • Integrating with other business systems to streamline workflows

Think about your priorities and key performance indicators to define concrete goals. These will shape how your CRM is designed and developed.

#2: Map your customer journey

Outline the journey your customers go through when interacting with your company. This includes how they:

  • Discover your business
  • Become leads
  • Convert to customers
  • Receive support

Map out how information is collected and shared at each stage. Your custom CRM should align with this journey to provide a seamless user experience.

#3: Determine essential features

Decide which features and functionality are must-haves in your CRM based on your goals and customer journey. Common features include:

  • Contact management: Store customer and prospect contact details and communications history.
  • Opportunity tracking: Manage sales opportunities through a pipeline.
  • Reporting and dashboards: Gain insight into key metrics and KPIs.
  • Marketing automation: Streamline email marketing, social media, and other campaigns.
  • Integrations: Connect your CRM to other tools like email, accounting, ERP, and e-commerce platforms.

#4: Build your budget

Developing a custom CRM requires an investment of both time and money. Work with experienced developers to determine realistic software development costs:

  • Planning and discovery
  • Design and UX
  • Development and testing
  • Deployment and training
  • Ongoing support and maintenance

Factor in additional costs for third-party tools and services as well. Your budget will help choose between building the CRM in-house or outsourcing the software development process.

With your goals, customer journey, essential features, and budget defined, you’ll have the foundation for crafting a custom CRM solution to drive your business forward. But first, evaluate if a custom build is right for you or if an existing CRM can fulfil most of your needs with some customization. Either way, thoughtful planning is the key to success.

Guide to Choosing the Right CRM Development Partner

Choosing a custom CRM development partner is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. The partner you select will have a huge impact on the success of your CRM project. Here are some tips for finding the right team for the job:

Focus on experience

Look for developers with expertise in building custom CRM solutions, preferably with experience in your industry or target market. An experienced team will have a proven process and subject matter expertise to draw from.

Check their technical capabilities

Make sure the developers are proficient in the frameworks you want to use to make your CRM similar to Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics. It’s important to have certified developers on staff and a track record of successful projects built on those platforms.

Review their project approach 

Look for a developer with a structured approach to building software. They should follow a standardized process for requirements analysis, solution design, development, testing, and deployment. This disciplined methodology will reduce risks and help keep your project on schedule and budget.

Evaluate communication

For a successful partnership, ongoing communication is key. Assess how well the development team listens to your needs, answers your questions, and explains technical concepts in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. You want a partner willing to become an extension of your team. Exploring professional IT staff augmentation opportunities could prove helpful in this regard.

Check references

Speaking with past clients of the developer is one of the best ways to evaluate potential partners. Ask them about their overall experience, the quality of work, the ability to meet deadlines, and how well the software met their needs. Look for developers with a proven history of delivering successful, long-term solutions.

Consider location and timezone

While not imperative, choosing a development partner in a location with a compatible timezone can make collaboration more efficient. At a minimum, the partner should have processes in place to overcome any challenges presented by different time zones or locations.

Discuss data security 

For any CRM system, data security should be a top priority. Ensure any potential partner has robust security controls, policies, and procedures to handle, store, and protect your sensitive data properly. Ask about their security certifications and audit reports.

With the right development partner on board, you’ll be well on your way to building a custom CRM solution to achieve your goals and gain a competitive advantage. But take your time finding the perfect match – your CRM success depends on it.

Start Developing Your Custom CRM Software Today

Top Methodologies for Custom CRM Implementation

When it comes to custom CRM software, there are a few main methodologies to consider for implementation. The methodology you choose will depend on your business needs, timeline, and budget:

Waterfall

The waterfall methodology follows a linear process, where you finish one phase before moving on to the next. It’s a structured approach, with clearly defined requirements and deliverables for each stage. This works well if you have a fixed scope and timeline. The downside is it can be difficult to make changes once a phase is complete.

Agile

Agile methodologies like Scrum are adaptive, flexible approaches that allow for changes to be made throughout the development cycle. Requirements evolve through collaboration between self-organizing teams.

The overall timeline is broken into smaller chunks, called sprints, where working software is delivered in increments. This works well when requirements are complex or unclear. However, the agile approach may require more time and resources.

Hybrid

A hybrid model combines aspects of waterfall and agile. It provides more flexibility than waterfall, but more structure than pure agile.

For example, you could use an agile approach for developing core features, but a waterfall model for peripheral components with fixed requirements. This balanced approach can provide the benefits of both methodologies.

The methodology you choose depends on factors like:

  • The clarity of requirements (clearer → waterfall, vague → agile) 
  • Time constraints (tight deadlines → waterfall, flexible → agile) 
  • App complexity (simpler → waterfall, complex → agile)
  • Your team’s experience (less experienced → waterfall, experienced → agile)

By evaluating your needs and resources, you can determine the custom CRM software development methodology that will set your project up for success. The key is finding the right balance of structure and flexibility for your unique situation.

Integrations to Enhance Your Custom CRM

Connecting your custom CRM solution to other business tools can streamline processes and open up new opportunities. Consider integrating some of the following.

Accounting software

Linking to your accounting platform allows for seamless billing, invoicing, and revenue tracking. Transactions in your CRM can trigger accounting entries automatically. Likewise, invoices sent through your accounting tool can log details in each customer’s CRM profile. Popular options like QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks offer open APIs for integration.

Email marketing

Connecting to an email service like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Drip lets you easily send newsletters, promotions, and updates to your contacts and customers. You can trigger emails based on actions or inactivity in your CRM. This integration also logs email opens and clicks within each contact record so you know how engaged your audience is.

Live chat

Adding live chat to your CRM gives you another channel to connect with website visitors and provide instant support to customers. When a chat is initiated, you’ll see the visitor’s information from your CRM so you know their purchase and support history. You can also log details from the chat conversation in their CRM profile. Many chat services like Drift, Intercom, and Zendesk offer CRM integrations.

Project management

Linking to platforms like Asana, Trello, or Jira enables you to keep projects, tasks, and deadlines organized across your teams. As work is completed, details are logged in your CRM against the relevant customer accounts and contacts. Your teams get a single source of truth for all client work, communication, and billing.

Integrating other tools with your custom CRM solution helps break down data silos and gives your whole organization a view of your customers and business. The right integrations can:

  • Save time;
  • Reduce errors;
  • Uncover insights;
  • Improve customer experience.

With an open API, the possibilities for enhancing your CRM are endless.

Ongoing Support and Maintenance

Once your custom CRM software is built and launched, ongoing support and maintenance are critical to its long-term success. As with any technology system, issues may arise that require troubleshooting, features may need updating, and the platforms it integrates with may change – all of which will require the expertise of skilled developers.

Provide quality support

After going live, be prepared to field questions from users and address any problems that come up. Your CRM team should offer different support options like:

  • Email and phone support for timely responses
  • Online knowledge bases with helpful articles, how-tos and FAQs
  • Chatbots or live chat for quick answers
  • Fast, friendly support will keep your users happy and engaged with the CRM

Regular maintenance and updates

Technology is always evolving, and your CRM should evolve with it. Plan on scheduling regular maintenance, patches, and updates to:

  • Ensure optimal performance and security
  • Roll out new features and enhancements Update integrations with other platforms
  • Apply updates to third-party software components

Your CRM developers will need to stay up-to-date with the latest languages, frameworks, and trends to keep your system modern. Updates should be thoroughly tested before deployment to avoid disruption.

Optimization

Over time, you’ll gain valuable insights into how your users interact with the CRM. Work with your developers to make optimizations that:

  • Improve the user experience based on feedback
  • Streamline workflows and processes
  • Automate more tasks to increase efficiency
  • Provide more robust reporting and analytics

Continuous improvement to match the changing needs of your business and customers will maximize the value of your custom CRM. With the right ongoing support and optimization, your CRM software can serve your company well for years to come.

FAQs

How long does custom CRM software development take?

The timeline for custom CRM development depends on the scope and complexity of your project. Generally, you can expect 3-12 months for a typical small to mid-size system. The key is to define clear requirements upfront, which helps the development team provide an accurate estimate and schedule.

How much will it cost?

Costs vary significantly based on the features and integrations in your CRM. According to recent surveys, small business CRM software averages $50-$200 per user per month. Mid-market systems are $200-$500 per user per month. Enterprise-level CRM is typically $500-$1500+ per user per month. For a customized solution, you’ll pay an initial upfront cost for development and implementation, then an ongoing monthly or annual fee for hosting, maintenance, and support.

How do I choose the right developers for the job?

Custom CRM software development requires a lot of research and expertise. You need a team of developers who not only understand code and functionality but also your niche and target audiences. Turning to IT outsourcing companies can be a great way to tap into the best talent pool.

Conclusion

This is the outline of your custom CRM software development roadmap right here. The truth is that it is a long and challenging task to undertake, but one with the potential to streamline the overall success of your business in the years to come.

With a custom CRM, you’ll have a solution built from the ground up to support your team and propel your business growth. Unlock an approach that will give you the upper hand in your industry and put you five steps ahead of your competitors. All you need is the right team for the job.

Start Developing Your Custom CRM Software Today