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Bespoke CRM development - 5 high impact ideas that could transform your business

You’ve got three main options if you want to collect useful data about customers, enquiries, leads and sales:

  1. Do it ad-hoc - build a series of loose systems and processes around MS Excel.

  2. Configure and use an established off-the-shelf system - perhaps a solution like Salesforce or MS Dynamics.

  3. Go down the bespoke path. Find a software development company and then design and develop your own custom solution.

That third option - a bespoke customer relationship management solution - sounds difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right approach you can design and develop a CRM solution that:

  1. Starts life as a minimum viable product.

  2. Is future proofed.

  3. Doesn’t include complicated (and expensive) features that you don’t really need.

  4. Gives you a great return on your investment.

What are 5 things to consider when you decide to develop a bespoke CRM system?

Start with a minimum viable product. You want an early first release of your CRM system that:

  • Solves one or two well understood problems;
  • Has just enough features to be useful, but no more;
  • Generates useful ideas that can be fed into the next version;

Simplify your roles based access. Can you start with just three roles?

  • A top level admin role - adds/removes users etc;
  • Sales/marketing role - the people who add most of the content;
  • Some kind of management role - gets a higher level aggregated view of data.

Develop a responsive web application. The layout of forms and pages in a responsive web application will adjust automatically to fit the screen of the device being used. A bespoke CRM system should work across a range of devices - even on mobile phones.

Consider open source first. The arguments for this are:

  • It saves you money - no licensing costs and cheaper hosting;
  • Software development costs are usually lower;
  • Development can be faster - there are lots of free, open source software libraries that your developers can use to build in features (eg. chart.js for high quality charts and dashboards).

Keep reporting simple. Reporting is important - you’re collecting data so you can do something useful with it - but don’t invest a huge amount of time and budget on building tools for manipulating data inside your CRM system. Instead:

  • Develop one two overview dashboards using a free chart library like chart.js;
  • Develop a series of .csv downloads - get the data out in a format that is useful so you can analyse it offline;
  • Just use great tools like Excel or MS Power BI to do more in depth analysis.

Remember, simplicity is the key to a successful development. You want to do more with less functionality. The worst thing you can do on a bespoke web application development is add in functionality that no one really needs.

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