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Deciding Between Custom Vs. Off-The-Shelf CRM Software

Maryna Cherednychenko - November 27, 2020 - 1 comment

CRM or customer relationship management is a program that improves the interaction with clients. CRM stores data about current and potential customers and unites all the departments to provide the first-class service. Many studies show that CRM grows the success rates of the company and brings its marketing goals closer. According to Salesforce, it raises sales by up to 29% and enhances forecast accuracy by 42%. Realizing this, organizations often turn to the system to optimize business processes and gain customer loyalty. Yet, they often face a choice of which CRM is best: off-the-shelf or custom-made. In this post, we’ll find the answer to this question and help you pick the right solution for your business.

How CRM Works

CRM system works as an advanced customer base. Its predecessor was an Excel table, where you could enter data and receive minimal analytics. Modern CRMs have superior options that fully automate business processes and enable a smooth user experience. 

In the CRM, all data is structured and arranged. Each customer has a separate card, which records the entire chronology of events, from the first call to the last purchase. The employees access the information in a few clicks and use it for effective dialogue with clients. For example, when there is an incoming call, the manager immediately sees who they are talking to. It allows them to address the caller by name, make relevant suggestions, or pass the issue to another manager without prejudice to the final result.

A good CRM wants to make the staff’s life easier. That is why it allows working from “any corner” of the program. Imagine that you look through sales analytics and find out that some items are not in the catalog. It’s perfect if you do not need to close the window and go to the “Products” section but create the missing card from where you are.

Types of CRM Software

CRM not only optimizes customer relations but improves the business activity in general. It is a powerful tool to build a marketing campaign and achieve the company’s goals. The systems are usually divided by purpose and way of implementation. By purpose, they are:

  • Operational. Such CRMs are focused on automating all departments connected with clients: marketing, sales, customer care, etc. They store clients’ profiles, record orders, calls, website activities, and update data in real-time mode.
  • Collaborative. These CRMs synchronize communication with clients through different channels: phone, email, chat, and social media. They put all employees on the same page to track the customer life cycle and build valuable relations.
  • Analytical. They supply analysts and economists with rich data set to learn a full picture of current economic activity. Based on the data, the users set short-term and long-term goals and build a holistic business strategy.

The above types of CRM rarely appear in a pure form. Most often, their features overlap and combine. In large systems, all functions are brought together to achieve broad business purposes. Regardless of how you will use CRM, there are two ways to implement it: take an off-the-shelf software or develop from scratch. Next, we’ll look at both ways in more detail.


Different types of CRM software

Types of CRM software

Off-The-Shelf CRM

Off-The-Shelf CRMs include basic tools. Most often, they cover standard operations and are not customized for specific industries or markets. Such CRMs serve well for small and mid-sized firms with typical business processes that do not require unique functionality. CRM providers often have flexible tariff plans. For a micro business with low turnover, they can even offer a free version.

Off-The-Shelf CRM Software Pros

Free trial

Most out-of-the-box solutions offer a free trial. You can test the system and decide if it is right for you. Of course, this takes time. If the CRM is not suitable, you will have to look for another solution. But this is better than pay immediately for an unnecessary product.

Sought-after functionality

Ready-made CRMs offer functions suitable for most firms operating in common industries: retail, eateries, real estate, etc. If you are not a super large corporation or a space station, you should start CRM implementation by considering out-of-the-box solutions.

High quality

Popular providers guarantee top quality. You can be sure in the glitchless work, and if something happens, you know where to go for help. When ordering custom CRM development, you risk mistaking with the contractor.

Customer support

Besides urgent situations, competent support helps in daily issues: how to configure a feature, find a document, insert template, etc. If you choose a custom CRM, the system configuration and staff training will rest on your shoulders.

Fast implementation

It takes much less time to adapt a ready-made CRM than to develop a custom system. You need to set up the program and show the staff how to use it. This can take from a few days to several weeks. If you order custom development, get ready to wait months, if not years.

Off-The-Shelf CRM Software Cons

Functionality gaps

Designed for the mass user, ready-made CRMs cannot please everyone. There is a high chance you will face the following situations: either do not find the necessary features or overpay for unwanted tools.

High fees

Most providers charge a monthly or yearly fee for using the CRM. Often, this amount does not include extra services, such as functional modules or integration. If your business grows, you will have to purchase additional licenses or switch to a more expensive tariff.

Poor UX

Some systems have redundant functionality and tricky navigation. It will take time until you learn all the nuances and understand how to work in the program. Besides, you will have to deal with regular version updates ad changes to the software.


Pros and cons of off-the-shelf vs. custom CRM

Pros and cons of off-the-shelf vs. custom CRM

Custom CRM

When you order custom CRM development, you receive a product that takes into account all the nuances of your business activity. It is easily adaptable, highly customizable, and super scalable. Custom CRM is a wise choice for large enterprises that need unique features or work in narrow niches.

Custom CRM Pros

Long-term savings

The price for custom CRM development is impressive. However, you may save in the long run by getting rid of a monthly fee and other charges. It is possible to expand the system to any scale and add new users without paying extra for each account.

Ease of change

Imagine that you need to add some feature to the system. CRM providers won’t do it just for you but hired developers will. Custom CRM allows you to move in any direction. You can shrink or expand the system as you like.

Integration with other apps

The CRM will most likely need to be integrated with other modules and apps of your company. That’s not a problem for a custom solution but may be tricky for the ready soft. With custom development, you discuss all details in advance to let programmers choose the best way for implementation.

Right of ownership

No matter who develops the CRM – in-house team or a contractor – you’ll be the software owner. If you are not satisfied with the current developers, you can hire other people to work on the product. Thus, you get the freedom to act and absolute mobility.

Efficient use

Before starting software development, business analysts study company activities and identify weak and strong points. CRM is developed, taking into account all the nuances. Therefore, after implementation, it performs its functions with maximum efficiency to ensure KPI’s rapid growth.

Custom CRM Cons

Long implementation

Depending on your business size and CRM features, development may take several months or years. During this time, you will need to participate in the process: review work, discuss details, make adjustments. After completion, it will take some time to test and set up the software.

Huge investments

The cost of a custom CRM depends on the project complexity and developer’s rate. But either way, the initial investment will be much higher than the price of an out-of-the-box solution. So, if you don’t have a pretty penny right away, think twice.

Wrong focus

If you incorrectly prioritize and determine the way of development, a custom CRM may be useless. You need to spend enough time in the preparatory phase and carefully think over each feature. When you have a clear to-do plan, start developing.

Comparison of Off-The-Shelf vs. Custom-Made CRM System

Here we will summarize all the pros and cons of different CRMs so that you can clearly see how they differ.


Off-the-Shelf CRM

Custom-Made CRM


✔️The opportunity to try the program for free and switch to another if you don’t like something

✔️Access to the most popular functions for automating work with clients

✔️A quality product that has been tested, launched, and used by many companies for a long time

✔️Qualified support that you can contact if any issue arises

✔️Quick installation of software that you can start using in just a few days


✔️Long term savings as you do not have to pay monthly fees and other mandatory payments

✔️Ability to  quickly add new features and scale the CRM as per your needs

✔️Seamless integration with other apps to enhance the efficiency of your business

✔️Aability to choose contractors and dictate your terms

✔️Using all the capabilities of the system to maximize your business growth


✔️Сertain features may be  missing or you overpay for functionality that you don’t use

✔️You need to pay a monthly fee and pay extra for each new account in the system

✔️Some systems are too complex and take time to figure out how to use them


✔️Long project implementation time, which lasts at least several months

✔️A large amount of money that you have to pay right away to start development

✔️A big mistake worth if you hold a wrong course for development

Softensy Expertise in CRM Development

At Softensy, we specialize in enterprise-level apps. Our clients work in a wide variety of areas, from farming to banking. They contact us to build custom CRM because off-the-shelf solutions do not fully meet their expectations. Prior to developing the software, we study business and draw up a plan to automate business processes as much as possible. As a result, we deliver a system that reduces manual work, gives relevant analytics, and keeps owners updated about current issues. Let’s take a look at a few examples of our recent CRM projects.

CRM for Banks

Our CRM system for Ecobank automates communication with clients and provides robust analytics of customer activity. The users of the system are contact center operators and business analysts. While the former hold dialogues with clients, the latter ones analyze the degree of effective communication.


Custom CRM for Ecobank

Statistics section in CRM for Ecobank

CRM for Real Estate

CRM for Saga Development sets up a smooth interaction with house residents. Through the system, house managers review tenants’ applications, post news, send messages, create events, initiate voting, update documents, and do other things related to the residential complex. The system provides in-depth financial analytics and detailed reports by each building object.


Custom CRM for real estate

Managing clients in CRM for real estate

CRM for Farming

CRM for Agrocom is a multifunctional system that digitizes all internal processes of the enterprise. With its help, you can plan working hours, keep track of equipment, draw up a budget, analyze expenses, estimate crop yield, etc. The users log into the system under different roles: owner, economist, agronomist, engineer. There are both web and mobile CRM versions.


Custom CRM for farming

Mobile enterprise app for Agrocom

Do You Need CRM?

CRM is a must-have tool for a successful business. Today we have many ready-made solutions; yet, a lot of companies prefer to order custom development. What is the reason? For a large organization with specific processes, this option is more suitable because it sharpens the final system precisely to their demands. On the other hand, small firms with typical operations might find this way useless because they can take all the needed things in standard software.

At Softensy, we develop custom CRMs and help adapt out-ot-the solutions. If you are in doubt about which option is right for you, drop us a line. We will be happy to help you make the right choice.

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1 comment

  1. Many brands only care about how to buy their services or products. Customer involvement may occupy the last position in their list of marketing strategies. Customers who feel involved will usually buy, promote, and show their loyalty to one product or brand

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