Building a CRM? Read These 5 Critical Considerations First

By Lauren Licata | Small Business

Build vs. Buy CRM: Just because you can build it, doesn’t mean you should.

Despite 50% growth for SaaS CRM’s like Base, companies often still grapple with the idea of building versus buying their CRM solutions. After all, when a company has very specific needs and a talented staff, it’s entirely possible to build a unique program in-house. Some companies believe a custom built CRM will better suit their business, protect their data, and be more cost effective.

The question is, do the pros of building your own CRM outweigh the cons? In our experience, most of the time that answer is no.

A CRM is too essential to your business to risk failure. If you’re on the fence about whether to buy or build a CRM solution, consider these factors first.

1. Features

There are some undeniable benefits to building your own CRM. First, you can have exactly the features that you want and need for your business without any excess, but at what cost? Before you start knocking down walls for your new engineering department, think about UX, reporting functionality and user adoption. These are all areas that SaaS CRM vendors excel at, so why reinvent the wheel if the expertise already exists?

2. Customization

Creating a tool that perfectly matches your needs is usually a top argument for building a CRM from scratch. Not only will it have your precise feature set, but it can be engineered to work with your specific pipeline processes and existing tools.

But CRM should always have the option to customize, whether you build it or buy it. A good CRM has many ways to personalize the tool to suit your business. And if your company changes, the CRM should be able to change right along with it. And it doesn’t have to exist on its own either. Modern CRM software offers a full set of integrations with other business tools for email, invoicing, human resources, social media and more.

3. Bugs and errors

On the flip side, programmers and coders are only human. Sometimes they make mistakes. These mistakes could be benign, but they could accidentally delete your customer data or compromise sensitive information. You won’t know if you have bugs until you’re using the new tool and those mistakes start to have very real consequences.

Having a commercially sold CRM means that the program has been tested and broken every which way before it gets to your office, so that the final product you receive is going to work perfectly. And when something goes wrong, the entire team can move quickly to create a fix because that CRM is their top and only priority. Imagine if you had to pull an engineer off a project right before a product launch because half the data in your CRM disappeared overnight. A good CRM gives you security and support for your tools.

4. Mobile options

Depending on the skills of your development team, you could probably make a solid service for your company. But the challenge then is how you can translate that software to a range of mobile platforms. It takes a lot of technical expertise to develop code for native apps on any device that your sales reps might use in the field. Plus, trying to get it through the approval process to get listed in the App Store and Google Play can be tricky.

A post-PC CRM can take care of that. Look for a CRM that offers native apps for iOS, Android and Windows phones, as well as a silky Web experience. No matter what platform you’re on, you and your entire team should be able to access to the same information.

5. Scaling

Another big reason that an in-house CRM can be risky is that it’s challenging to make it scale as your company grows. As you need to add more features or fix more bugs, you’re giving extra work to your development team, taking them away from your company’s product and refocusing them on tasks that could easily be handled by a dedicated CRM business. And of course, building out your in-house CRM carries all the same issues that it did when you first built it. New bugs, new problems with a tool that you need to depend on to do business.

Buying a CRM puts a whole support team at your disposal. Avoid growing pains by looking for tools that will accommodate whatever scale you’re at, today and tomorrow.

In the end, just because you can design, build, and manage a CRM, it doesn’t mean that youshould. It’s important to do your due diligence and select the option that’s best for you. Either way, for your CRM program to be successful, you have to start with a long term vision with an urgency for results.

Next Step: Learn how to select the right CRM for your business.

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