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How To Build A CRM System from Scratch: A Complete Guide

Krunal Shah

Sep 17, 2020

9 min readLast Updated Dec 09, 2022

How to Build a CRM System from Scratch

Building a custom CRM software from scratch is a lot of work and needs considerable resources. When we have established CRM software like Salesforce and Oracle in the market, should you invest time and money on building a new one? In this detailed blog post, I explain the benefits a custom CRM software has over pre-packaged software. Additionally, we will also dive into how to build a a CRM system from scratch.

Benefits of using a custom CRM software

Benefits of using a custom crm software

Some of the most common advantages of building your own CRM software system are:

1. You don’t have to pay for what you don’t use

A major limitation of using a pre-built CRM software is that their packages may not be well-suited to your needs. Sometimes, the basic package doesn’t include some of the features you need. In order to avail those, you have to upgrade to a higher version which leads to inflated costs.

What’s worse? Most of the features of those expensive versions may not even be very useful to your business. Hence, building a custom CRM software from scratch will be much more cost-efficient for you in the long run.

2. You can integrate your CRM system with your existing workflows without any interruption

Pre-packaged CRM systems like Salesforce are built with a generalized distribution of workflows in marketing, sales, customer support, etc. It may or may not be the exact fit for your unique business needs. Adopting it may force you to rearrange your workflows if you want to integrate it across the organization.

With custom CRM software development, you can design your system in a way that smoothly integrates with your existing workflows. Moreover, you have the liberty to automate only those workflows that you deem fit.

All the departments can continue to function the way they do and still make the most of your custom CRM software.

3. You have full control over the customer journey and access to useful customer data

A huge advantage of using a custom-built CRM software is the kind of control you have over the customer journey. From placing and tracking orders to generating bills and resolving issues, you can optimize how your customer interacts with your system and people.

The same goes for customer data and insights. Sure, enterprise CRM systems do provide information like the demographics of your customers. However, they can’t yield you the exact kind of data you need to completely understand your customer.

By developing your own CRM software, you can create a combination of filters that will get you precise custom reports.

4. You can get your own CRM app ecosystem

We know a CRM system is nothing but a collection of tools that lets the users do their jobs respectively. When you build your own CRM, you can create apps that different departments can use for their convenience.

Having your own internal ecosystem of such apps will enable you to test certain features and their impact. You can thus add department-specific apps per their needs and also change or remove those as per the results.

At the organizational level, such a flexible CRM system can go a long way in empowering departments to maximize their efficiency.

How to build a CRM system from scratch

Build a custom crm software

Building a CRM system isn’t just about coding the necessary requirements. Like any other software, custom CRM development also has a full life cycle.

Step 1: Identify your business goals for building a custom CRM software

Of course, the broader objective of implementing a CRM system is to increase profits. However, you need to identify how exactly your CRM system will help your business grow.

Do you need a custom CRM software for automating tasks and thus reducing costs? Or do you need it for the insights that will help you understand your customer and thus, increase your sales?

All CRM software has different functionalities for different departments. If your focus is to reduce operational costs, you don’t need to spend much on developing sophisticated marketing features and vice versa.

In fact, based on your business strategy, it is possible that you don’t even need to build a full-fledged CRM system catering equally to all the departments. Thus, developing a CRM system from scratch gives you the liberty to build only those parts that you need.

So, in order to build a CRM system from scratch for your business, define what goals you need the system to achieve for you.

For your quick reference, I have listed down some of the most common goals organizations aim to achieve through their custom made CRM software.

  • Maximizing customer satisfaction (and loyalty)
  • Accumulating and organizing stakeholders’ data at one place
  • Detailed insights on customer behavior
  • Generating reports to optimize the performance of one or multiple departments
  • Assessing marketing campaign results and optimizing ROI on the same
  • Managing leads and analyzing where they come from
  • Managing customer base and getting valuable data about the customer journey
  • Improving internal communication through tools like notifications, automated emails/texts, etc.

Step 2: Study the types of CRM systems and choose the right one for your goals

Based on the goals you defined in step 1, determine the type of CRM system that will help you achieve those goals. It’s true that all CRM software provides different functionalities to some extent. However, they are categorized on the basis of which department they are specifically designed to help.

Thus, there are three types of CRM software. Depending on what purpose each type serves, they fall under operational, collaborative, or analytical CRM.

1. When should you build custom Operational CRM?

If automating and integrating marketing, sales, and customer support is your main goal, you should opt for building a custom Operational CRM. With the help of dashboards and custom reports, it helps you keep a close watch on routine operations and monitor how they are contributing to generating leads.

Operational CRM is a common choice for businesses in the financial, retail, real estate, healthcare industries, etc.

2. When should you build custom Analytical CRM?

An analytical CRM system is the best option if your goal is to maximize customer acquisition. It’s ideal to build your own custom analytical CRM with the kind of reports and filters you need on your customer data.

By analyzing these reports, you will be better able to understand where your target customer is coming from, what are their preferences, what aspect of your product or service appeals to them the most, and much more.

A custom made analytical CRM system is greatly helpful for targeting the right kind of audience at the right place and time.

3. When should you build custom Strategic CRM?

Strategic CRM, also known as Collaborative CRM, is a very niche system that yields information about the customer journey in your business operations. Its main goal is customer retention by understanding at what point the customers are leaving the sales funnel.

A custom strategic CRM will help you make incremental changes in certain workflows across various departments.

With these changes and synchronized customer experience data, you can improve customer interaction, satisfaction, and keep them from ending their relationship with your business.

Step 3: Determine the features to include in your custom CRM software

features of a custom crm software

You have the clarity of your business goals and you know which type of CRM system you need to build to meet those goals. Taking these two aspects as guidelines, you now need to figure out which functionalities you will need to build in your CRM system.

The most important component of how to build a custom CRM software is understanding which features to include and which ones to exclude. If you go wrong here, you may end up elevating your CRM software costs.

To help you at this stage, I am going to provide a brief introduction to the kind of features your CRM system may need.

6 Core Features of a CRM Software System

Regardless of the purpose or type of CRM software, there are certain core features every business needs in their system.

Contact management
Contact management is the foundation of any CRM software. It is a functionality that you need to store customer data, maintain records, and manage contact details like phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

Lead management
This feature is essential to keep a track of your potential clients. Your custom CRM software should be able to organize your leads in one place. It should help you monitor when and how your leads are moving towards a conversion.

Task management
Running a business is a complex task that involves numerous sub-tasks under various departments. In order to keep things planned and systematic, you must build a task management functionality in your custom CRM system.

A basic task management feature should enable your team leads to create tasks, add relevant members to those tasks, and leave comments whenever necessary.

Calendar and reminders
Whether it’s lead management, task management, or any other process, team members need to work together to meet business goals. Schedules and meetings become an integral part of business operations then.

Thus, functionalities related to the calendar and reminders to concerned team members are an indispensable part of customer relationship management.

Dashboards and reports
Just like project management software, CRM software too need dashboards to provide an overview of the work in progress. Additionally, reports are important for the team gauge how effective their efforts are and how well each department is performing in various parameters.

File sharing
To reiterate, teamwork necessitates collaborative work. A quick file sharing feature in your custom CRM software will save you tons of time. Without this feature, all the team members would have to upload and download the same files repeatedly.

6 Advanced features of a custom CRM software system

To build a CRM system from scratch you must know that your business needs in addition to the above basic features.

Here is a list of commonly used advance CRM software features:

Mobile access
Almost everything is beginning to become “mobile-first” now. With distributed remote teams and work from home getting popular now, mobile access is a feature that makes the CRM system more accessible to all the stakeholders.

Pipeline view
If maximizing sales and growing revenue is your objective, the pipeline view should be an important consideration of how to build a custom CRM software. A pipeline view is a visual representation of a prospect’s journey from being a lead to becoming a customer.

In a single dashboard, you can create various tabs to track the status of your leads as “new”, “proposed”, “qualified”, “rejected”, and “contract.”

An advance invoicing feature in your custom CRM software will make it extremely easy for you to generate invoices, check their status, track invoice history, and much more.

Third-party integrations
As I mentioned earlier, building your own custom CRM software presents you with an opportunity to build an internal app ecosystem. That will be possible only if you develop functionality to integrate your CRM system with third-party tools.

Custom reports
Custom reports are especially useful for analytical CRM software where you can learn and understand everything about your target audience. Clubbing a coupe of parameters and applying a combination of filters can generate a gold mine of customer insights for you.

The quicker you respond to your customers, the better your chances of customer acquisition and retention are. For that reason, chatbots are increasingly being used in a lot of CRM software.

Unlike an auto email, auto-responses by chatbots feel more human and provide an engaging customer support experience.

Step 4: Specify access levels for each functionality

Access levels for each functionality

While deciding how to build a custom CRM software, make sure you don’t just stop at prioritizing CRM features. You must also clearly define which parts of the CRM system will have what features. Moreover, you must also specify who has access to what features.

To maintain orderliness and business secrecy, set up access permissions in your CRM system. Only those who have been given access should be able to have a look at certain data and certain parts of the system.

Step 5: Create a budget for building your CRM system from scratch

budget for building your CRM system

Finally, it’s time to create a budget because well, you know, what’s the point of making plans if you don’t have the resources to execute those. So you need an estimation of how much it costs to build a custom CRM software. And for that, you need to understand how much your desired functionalities will cost you.

Development of a custom CRM software from scratch usually consists of the following phases:

Based on the kind of design you want to build and the features of CRM, the collective costs of building your custom CRM software can vary from $5000 to $50,000.

However, there is a way to find out how much your CRM will cost you. You must aim to create budgets for each module separately.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom CRM Software

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