How To Build a Custom CRM Software? [Case Study: 2021]

3957 Updated 09.30.2021
Vasyl Polych

Founder & CEO at Northell

5/5

Table of contents

How to build a CRM system? CRM development is one of the most effective methods of process optimization in the company. Lots of organizations have successfully integrated custom solutions.

They have been able to improve their performance, raise the efficacy of their teams, achieve primary goals, etc. Some want to develop a system for internal company management. Others want to develop a high-quality SaaS product.    

In our new article, we will talk about the first and second options. You will find a lot of helpful information about what problems a custom CRM system can solve in your business, what features need to be included, what basic steps should be taken to build a high-performing CRM system, and much more.

CRM Software for your Business and SaaS-Product CRM

Building a CRM software for your business and creating a SaaS-product CRM are completely different things. Many people confuse these processes and, as a result, do not achieve their goals. Since these are different products, respectively, they require different approaches, ideas, and promotions. 

We will try to describe to you in detail the main differences between these systems and offer you a guide on creating a custom CRM for consideration. We also hope that after reading our article, you will not have still-open issues, and you will be completely ready to create a system.

Northell Experience in CRM development

Northell team has vast experience in various product development, including CRM development. One of our clients, NWCC, a construction finance control system, came to us with a platform that has been functioning for more than 35 years. 

Northell Case Study: NWCC

Our main task was to redesign and develop the platform and ensure that the shift to the new version was smooth.

It was crucial to create a design that both preserves all the essential features and, at the same time, adds convenience to the experience.

However, it should be said that thanks to work done, the Northell team managed to translate into reality all the wishes of the client, fulfill all the requirements and achieve the main goal. 

Results: 

We created a sophisticated yet easy to navigate design: all the platform’s elements are organized in such a way, that even those users who are not that tech-save can intuitively operate NWCC. Among the platform’s features are:

 

  • Invoices and confirmation letters organization

All the documents are stored and organized in the system. It is easy to find any report through the search bar to view or print it.

  • Project statistics

NWCC’s dashboard demonstrates project statistics, such as active projects by time and completion. It helps with understanding the overall situation and load.

Northell Case Study: ZzeuS

Also, our team worked on the Zzeus project, a CRM system for restaurants.

It was a very unique project, as the system has a SaaS business model as a component and is also a profound and customized system.

This CRM system helps restaurant owners collect and analyze a lot of data such as revenue per day, customer retention, occupancy, average rating, etc. It also helps evaluate and control employees’ work, understand and solve problems in work processes.

A client came to us to change and improve the UI/UX design of their system.

Zzeus already had a ready-made UI kit, but we improved it. We used orange as the main color of the system, as it promotes relaxation and creates an atmosphere of safety and trust. To make accents on different screens, we highlighted the necessary elements in yellow.

As a result, the client was delighted with the work done and got exactly what he came to us for.

Another project we worked on was Referr, a brand new platform that allows companies and freelancers to refer customers to one another.

Northell Case Study: Referr

The service makes the process of referring, sharing customer details, tracking referrals, and managing commissions and rewards for successful referrals easy and convenient for all parties involved. 

The client needed a first-class UI/UX solution that would make the web app convenient for all categories of users, follow the latest design trends, and contain unique functionality.

Our team has done a lot of work on the platform, and as a result, the client received an excellent solution that fully met his expectations. 

You can read more detailed information about the Referr project and its results here:

Referr App Case Study.

What is a CRM Software For Your Business?

How to effectively manage a large company without using a CRM system is, to put it mildly, very difficult to imagine. CRM, or customer relationship management system, is software whose primary purpose is to collect and analyze various data to increase business productivity. 

The main task of such a system is to automate the interaction between the business and the client and also to optimize the work in a team.

It can be collecting and processing data, classifying them into databases, as well as storing information, and also analyzing a marketing strategy. According to GlobeNewswire, The global CRM market size is accounted to be $128.97 billion by 2027.

Many business owners cannot choose whether to use ready-made solutions or develop custom CRM software. Let’s take a look at the main differences between these two types of systems. 

What’s the difference Between Custom CRM and Ready-made CRM?

The modern market offers many CRM solutions tailored to different industries and business sizes. Why is it still worth choosing a CRM developed individually for your company? 

There are many ready-made CRM systems in the world for automating processes in companies of different sizes. One of the most popular systems of 2016 – SalesForce, available in more than 20 configurations – these are turnkey solutions for banks, hospitals, sales automation, etc. Despite the rich CRM functionality, large SalesForce clients use several solutions to meet their company’s needs.

High-quality ready-made CRM solutions are expensive, and more often than not, your company does not need the entire set of provided features. The cost of creating a custom CRM is also not small. However, in the case of individual development, you pay for the features that your company needs.

Plus, employees will not have to spend a lot of time mastering the product because the CRM will be initially created for the workflow already established in the company.

Here are some of the main benefits of using custom CRM software:

  • User-friendliness. Having your own CRM software is a less complicated and hassle-free process. The tailoring of a custom CRM is done according to the company’s needs to make it easier for employees to adapt. That will speed up the transition and increase the chances of successful implementation.
  • Competitive business advantage. Using a custom CRM will enable your business to make required automation and adjustments, providing you an edge over competitors. With a custom CRM, you can enable users to create effective business policies, giving leadership more significant influence over business and operations.
  • Greater analytics. A custom CRM delivers superior analytics to suit company requirements, while a standard CRM gives common reports that are highly essential to the organization. With the assistance of custom CRM, one may identify the vital processes and get comprehensive statistics for them.
  • Proper integration with business operations. You will offer your company greater flexibility in integrating CRM with business operations and sales cycles by using custom CRM software. With a custom CRM, you may connect it at many contact points and departments as required.

Top Problems Custom CRM Software Can Solve Into Your Business 

According to the international research VentureBeat, due to the implementation of CRM systems in the business environment, approximately 80% of companies have significantly increased the number of leads (potential customers). Conversions increased in 77% of responding organizations.

Custom CRM solves a number of problems that companies face on a daily basis and helps businesses become more productive. Let’s look at them in detail for each company department.

In your Marketing Team

In marketing management, custom CRM solves the following tasks:

  • Creation of a client profile based on the collected data. Thanks to this, it is possible to timely adjust the range, features of the things and services provided.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of advertising, marketing activities, and calculating ROI. For example, you can manually calculate the estimated ROI using Excel. And in custom CRM, it is enough to connect the appropriate module, through which reports on marketing companies and other investments in the company (product) will be automatically generated.
  • Customer retention through increasing brand (product) loyalty. For +example, an analysis of the audience that has attended a series of promotional lectures on effective product use will clarify that event marketing is better at reaching target audiences than other types of marketing used.
  • Estimate of marketing team efficiency, control of task performance and compliance with deadlines. 
  • Creation of individual sales funnels, budget planning and team management.   

In Your Sales Team

With custom CRM, it is easy to organize the reporting of the sales department. Custom CRM software serves as a tool for forming a sales funnel, from which the following points are determined:

  • where and when clients leave;
  • which client groups should be given the highest level of priority;
  • what is the probability of buying products and services of the company;
  • which processes in the company should be eliminated to improve the sales funnel.

In Your Account Team

In a custom CRM system, it is convenient to keep a history of customer relationships. A card is created for each of them, in which the main (full name, phone number, e-mail address) and additional data (date of birth, character traits, information about the client’s favorite products, etc.) are noted.

That is also important for building relationships with organizations and clients that regularly buy your services or products. The managers responsible for purchasing in these organizations can change, but the CRM stores data on transactions with a specific organization and, individually, with managers. 

Therefore, you do not have to waste time restoring partnership relations. It is enough to create a card for a new manager (the company’s contact person) and attach it to the organization card.

In Your Management Team

Custom CRM software can act as a team management tool. It can help:

  • monitor the performance of functional roles of the team;
  • automate the distribution of tasks between employees of different departments; 
  • synchronize the actions of personnel;
  • quickly train new employees.

Custom CRM Software: Must-Have Features

To determine what set of features should be in your CRM system, first find out who will use this CRM. The marketing department, sales team, support team, account manager, or PM? Let’s look at the features for each option separately:

Sales team:

  • Account management; 
  • Sales schedule; 
  • Sales analytics with filters; 
  • Automated lead management; 
  • Invoices, etc.

Marketing team:

  • Advertising budget management; 
  • Performance evaluation; 
  • Planning; 
  • Sales funnel tracking, etc.

Support team:

  • User experience evaluation;
  • Satisfaction analysis; 
  • The amount of negativity according to certain changes or actions. 

Depending on the specifics of your business, the list of features can be varied. However, we have highlighted a few of the most must-have ones that you should definitely include in your custom CRM software. Here is a list of them:

  • Contact management; 
  • Reminders set up; 
  • Calendar; 
  • Task management; 
  • Reports, templates; 
  • Performance analytics.

In fact, must-have features are those features that are common in CRM products. Working on CRM cases, we have already implemented the following features:

  • Deep data analytics,
  • Detailed reports;
  • QR code opportunities;
  • Convenient payment solutions;
  • Advanced search;
  • Handy message, reviews, and profiles boards. 

Also, let us talk in more detail about some of the must-have features that you can see in almost all CRM systems:  

Planning

CRM systems are used not only to track transactions but also to predict which approaches to customer relationships are best based on research and analysis of previous interactions. 

You can do this in the form of a calendar or a project management board, where you will give tasks to managers, allowing them to set reminders and schedule calls, meetings, and email chains with leads, clients, partners, etc.  

Thus, this feature will reduce the level of stress in the team and save time resources.

Analytics

To make planning effective, you need data to base it on. When your custom CRM software offers automated data processing and analytics, you have a better overview of customer workflow and communication. 

Thanks to this, you can assess the productivity of each employee, prioritize each lead and client, plan work and optimize your approaches to HR management. 

Or you can use this data in presentations to the board of investors. Custom CRM application development is a good choice for various types of analysis and research.

Templates

Templates will save you time and, therefore, money. You can implement templates for letters, call scripts, business proposals, and work algorithms for various cases that may arise in communicating with leads and customers. 

That is especially useful and convenient for beginners and interns working in your organization. That will help them learn professional tasks faster and facilitate the transfer of knowledge. 

And for more experienced professionals, it will speed up and streamline their workflow.

Integration of third-party services

Implementing third-party systems in your CRM system will make it easy to transfer and exchange data within the company. 

The implementation of this feature can become problematic if you use ready-made software, so in this case, the development of custom CRM software may come in handy.

Localization

This feature is vital if you have many offices in different countries. Think about your people, and don’t forget about localization when developing your custom CRM application.  

You probably want all of your sales, business development, account managers, and marketing specialists to work with the highest productivity. For this, you need to provide the most convenient automated workflow. 

English is a universal language in modern business, but implementing versions of your CRM system customized for each group of employees, depending on their location, is still a good and valuable idea. 

So make sure you enable the development of versions in all required languages ​​of your custom CRM system.

Also, let’s additionally consider trendy and unique features: 

  • AI software integration; 
  • Third-party software integration; 
  • Large databases collection and evaluation;

All You Need to Know Before Build Custom CRM Software

How to build a custom CRM system without making a bunch of mistakes? To create your own CRM system, consider the following points:

Business Objectives

Every business has its own set of objectives and tactics for growth. 

Before incorporating CRM software into your company process, you must first determine what you need it for. For example, you want to reduce operating costs by automating company operations. Or maybe you want to change the company’s strategy based on analytics data.

Employee Onboarding

When choosing to build a custom CRM, make sure your employees are prepared to use it. Otherwise, you run the danger of failing. So, before you begin, you should determine who will be in charge of CRM management and think about training. Then, demonstrate to your staff how to use the system to gather business-critical data, monitor customers, measure analytics, and so on.

Relevance 

Think about how relevant the development of a CRM system is for your company and team. Perhaps you have a list of problems you want to solve with it or specific reasons for creating it. 

For example, our client Referr wanted to create modern and relevant software that makes the process of referring, sharing customer details, tracking referrals, and managing commissions and rewards for successful referrals easy and convenient.

The Northell team, for its part, helped to choose a more suitable design for such a platform and an up-to-date set of features.

Risks 

Before creating a custom CRM software, you must remember that there are risks that must be avoided. For example, if you choose an incompetent design and development team for your project, you risk losing money, time, and good results.

Or another example, if you misallocate the development budget, you risk not finishing the project on time or even stopping development halfway through. To avoid and minimize possible risks, you must plan everything well.

We also often advise our clients to determine the number of people and who will be involved in what area. It will help keep the development process organized and streamlined.

What is a CRM as a SaaS-Product? [SaaS CRM]

Having told all the necessary information about CRM for business, it’s time to talk about SaaS CRM. How is this system different from the previous one? What are its main features? What do you need to know about developing such a platform? We will talk about all this and much more below.

SaaS CRM can be viewed from different angles. First, it can be the company’s internal software that serves as a tool for automating most business processes. Secondly, it can be a separate SaaS product that is actually a new business that generates money and, as a result, income. Let’s take a look at their main differences and approaches.

CRM Software and SaaS-Product CRM  [Difference, approach]

We have already told you about what CRM software is. SaaS CRM is identical software but running on the cloud and charges clients as a subscription.

Cloud-based CRM works on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis, which means you don’t buy the system outright, but rather subscribe to it as a service that includes updates, adjustments, and support in addition to the CRM system and user licenses.

When you use cloud-based CRM, you or a service partner set up the CRM system, and the software and data are housed on distant servers controlled by your SaaS provider and accessible through an Internet connection.

It is also the most adaptable choice for companies expecting substantial growth or changes throughout the course of their CRM.

Why are SaaS CRM systems so popular today? SaaS CRMs provide many benefits, the most significant of which are as follows:

  • acquisition at a low cost;
  • remote and simple access;
  • maintenance;
  • scalability;
  • adaptability.

Top Challenges For SaaS CRM

According to our experience, we identified top challenges for SaaS CRM. Among them are:

Safety and security

The CRM system contains essential company data: customer information and sales forecasts. Leakage or loss of this information is fraught with the unfortunate consequences, ranging from customer dissatisfaction and reduced competitiveness to sanctions from regulatory authorities strictly related to personal data protection.

Usability

Improving the usability of SaaS CRM is a smart move. Usability increases satisfaction and productivity, which translates into customer trust and loyalty, leading to cost savings and increased profitability.

Usability also plays a prominent role in product perception, affecting brand value and a company’s market share. Media giants such as The New York Times, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal publish weekly columns that evaluate the software.

Info World, a leading IT magazine, devotes 18% to 30% of its publication volume to ease of use, usability, and the quality of the accompanying documentation of peer-reviewed software. Therefore, you should pay maximum attention to the usability of SaaS CRM.

Onboarding

As with any system, onboarding is very important. For users to get the most out of SaaS CRM, it is necessary to consider the onboarding process. It would help if you showed users how the system works, what functions it has, how and in what situations to use them, what features are there, etc.

CRM as a SaaS-Product: Top Features

The choice of features depends on what kind of SaaS CRM we are talking about. There are standard features that, in principle, are suitable for any CRM, and there are niche features that are suitable for specific SaaS CRM systems. There can be thousands of niche features.

For example, we have created some niche features for the Zzeus project, such as data analytics on Business, Menu, Service and Guest, customer retention calculation, revenue per guest calculation, occupancy calculation, revenue per day calculation, etc.          

In addition, let’s highlight the main features that are desirable for each CRM system:

Dashboards and reports

Using customizable reports and dashboards, users may see data in a quite visual, engaging manner. They provide real-time data updates and a platform that can be accessed via different portals, making it easier for various people to access.

Support Automation

As AI capabilities develop, customer support services such as FAQ sections, chatbots, and email messages are becoming more automated. 

Users may use your UI to control the output of your customer support services.

Environment for testing

This SaaS CRM feature refers to the ability of users to test new capabilities before they are rolled out. Employees can adjust to the changes, clients may explore and provide feedback, and others can gather data on every interaction. This reduces customer dissatisfaction, increases conversion rates, and allows for more informed choices and actions.

We have also highlighted standard SaaS CRM features that increase product’s efficiency: 

  • Convenient team integration; 
  • Client database integration; 
  • Advanced payment methods 
  • Onboarding system for the team; 
  • Extensive opportunities to customize the interface and all processes; 
  • Quality reports and analytics.

What You Should Know Before Start SaaS CRM

How to build a CRM platform that will perfectly suit any business and meet any business owner’s needs? Based on Northell experience, we have identified several things you should think about first. Before you start developing a SaaS CRM product, consider these things:

  • Analyze competitors. SaaS CRM is a new business, so you need to study your competitors first. You need your SaaS CRM product to be unique, so it is essential to check the functionality and features of competitors’ products in detail. 
  • Conduct research. You should spend a lot of time researching. First, it’s worth exploring the niches that use SaaS CRM. Secondly, study the trends that are relevant for these types of systems now. The more research you do, the better you can make your product.
  • Build a marketing strategy. When your product is ready, you will need to show it to the world correctly. To do this, you will need a marketing strategy and, of course, qualified specialists who will help promote your product. 
  • Consider all kinds of risks. Creating a new product is already a risk. You have to think through all the possible situations that may occur during and after product development. To eliminate all sorts of risks, you should have a clear plan of action in advance for any case.

How To Build A Custom CRM? [Practical Guide]

Now is the time to consider the most interesting topic of how to build CRM software. Based on our deep knowledge in the development of CRM systems and cases described earlier in the article, the Northell team decided to prepare a step-by-step guide for you to create custom CRM solutions.

1. Start from your CRM Idea [Uniqueness and value]

It would be best if you started creating any product with an idea. It doesn’t matter if you make a custom-built CRM or a SaaS CRM. The product has to be well thought out. 

You need to determine what value the product will give your users, what problems it will solve, how and how easy it will solve them, what users can achieve using your CRM product, etc.

It is also worth considering uniqueness. There are many advanced CRM systems in the world, but how will yours differ from them? Perhaps you will have exactly what users cannot find in other systems. Nowadays, people really appreciate the uniqueness and most often choose significantly different products from hundreds of others on the market.

2. Who is Your Target Audience & Competitors? [User persona and user stories]

Northell Case Study

The next step you should take is to analyze your competitors and define your target audience. You must clearly understand who you are creating your product for. Identifying competitors will help you make a detailed comparison of what is currently being offered on the market, what features, functions, etc.

At this stage, you need to create user persona and user stories. A persona is a collective image of one of the categories of your customers, which embodies the characteristics of the behavior of this group, the factors of motivation pursued by representatives of this group, and goals related to the product of your business.

A persona is a portrait of a typical user, while not an abstract set of characteristics, but a hero invented by you, with a name, habits, occupation everything that is related to your product.

User Story is a short and most understandable description of the product functionality or features that the user will receive as a final value.

For example, for the NWCC project, we conducted research and created 4 personas. These were:

  1. Lender, who creates a proposal for the borrower.
  2. Borrower, who set up the requirements.
  3. Builder, who also set up the requirements.
  4. Inspector, who provides the audits for cost needed and checks the flow of the building plan, reporting this info to the lender.  

When you create such a table, you will already understand what you need to include in your product.

3. Write a Project Plan [Budged, Goals and Timeline]

How to develop CRM software effectively and smoothly? Of course, with the help of a project plan. For the custom CRM development process to be organized and structured, you need to make a good plan. First, define your primary goals. Why are you creating this product? What result do you want to get in the end? 

The next step is to set a budget. How much money do you need to spend on project design and development? What is the total budget for this project? How much money are you willing to allocate for the separate stages of building custom CRM software? 

Then set the timeline. Setting deadlines will help you be more organized and your team more disciplined. Set separate deadlines for each stage of the project.

The Northell team advises not to set deadlines too short or too long. Of course, it all depends on your capabilities, but it is always better to have a little lead time. In case of unforeseen circumstances, you will need it.

4. Write Design & Software Requirement

At this stage you need to write design and software requirements. Software and design requirements describe exactly “what” your system must accomplish. They are essentially a checklist that your designers, developers, and QA engineers will use to ensure that you receive the system you want.

The first step of a good software project is defining strong requirements. You are defining the issue, the future vision and objective, and the specifics of the solution. 

When we worked on the Referr project, we first got a certain amount of information from our client. Then we organized several meetings at which, together with the client, we completed the list of requirements that we must fulfill at the design and development stage.

Working with the NWCC project, we also first received a list of requirements and created project documentation. Based on our experience, we can say that these things are needed so that the design and development teams do not go astray and there is no problem of discrepancy between the client’s desires and the work done.

You can read more about how to write design and software requirements in our article, which is completely devoted to this topic – How To Write The Design Specification? [Quick Guide]

5. Hire Design & Development Contractors

Choosing a reliable and experienced contractor is one of the deciding factors whether you will be successful in developing custom CRM software. But where can you find a good contractor? We’ve highlighted several ways you can find and hire a contractor effectively. Among them are:

  • Use social networks

Social networks like LinkedIn offer a large number of great and qualified specialists. You can find there all the necessary information about the contractor’s experience, projects his team was working on, skills, reviews, etc. Using such platforms as Clutch.co, you can get detailed feedback about a contractor’s work from his clients.  

  • Ask community

You can ask your community for a recommendation. Perhaps your colleagues or partners have already worked with reliable and experienced contractors and can connect you with them.

  • Use Google search

This is probably one of the easiest ways, but the longest and not the fact that it is reliable.

The Northell team has highlighted a few important things to consider when choosing a contractor:

  • experience;
  • portfolio;
  • projects results;
  • reviews and testimonials;
  • location and cost.

If you want an experienced and reliable design and development team for your CRM project, we will be happy to help you. Just get in touch with us!

6. Start Product Discovery [Main Part]

When you have completed all the preparatory steps, you can proceed to the product discovery phase. Product discovery indicates whether a new product or feature will be used. For designers and product development teams, it allows them to see how their product benefits many people. Developing a deeper understanding helps teams create products that customers want. 

This process moves from basic features to creating products that solve a problem and become an absolute necessity for users. The product discovery process ensures that product managers and teams are on the right track in prioritizing and creating a product that will be successful.

When we worked with NWCC, our discovery phase included:

  • business and user goals;
  • stakeholder and user interviews; 
  • market research; 
  • personas; 
  • customer journey map.

Product discovery is the process of figuring out what is ultimately going to be created. It reflects your vision, provides a clearer understanding of user needs, and provides key answers to questions that arise when building a roadmap. 

  • Is it worth solving this problem? 
  • Will our solution work? 
  • Will people pay for this? 

 If the answer to any of these questions is no, you will have to go back to the marker board. Product discovery is the process of working on your idea, interviewing your customers until you get clear, positive answers to all three questions.

7. UX Design 

Northell Case study

After the product discovery phase, you can start creating UX design. Think back to your last visit to a cafe or restaurant. What was your first impression when you entered it? How was the menu designed?

Did you get the food quickly enough, and what was the taste like? How well were you served? Would you go back there again? 

Northell Case Study

The answers to these questions, including all the emotional experiences from interacting with a cafe or restaurant, represent UX. Today, UX design has become synonymous with good business because products and services are successful in the marketplace only if they provide a seamless user experience.

Northell Case Study

Usually information architecture and wireframes are created during the UX design stage. Information architecture is about organizing and dividing content. Without proper content sorting, most of the users would be lost when navigating a website or app, and as a result, the value of the product would be questioned.

Northell Case Study

Wireframes are schematic screen layouts. Their goal is to show what the project will be like. Classic wireframes are built from gray and white blocks. The use of symbols is allowed. But there shouldn’t be any images. 

When our client Referr came to us, the client team provided a very detailed brief on the project that contained starting wireframes. Our first task was to review the developed UX parts, analyze them, and offer improvements and further solutions. Here’s what we ended up with at this stage.​​

8. Testing 

After creating a UX design, it needs to be tested. The Northell team strongly recommends not skipping this step. It helps identify possible problems and mistakes early in the development phase when there is still time and opportunity to fix them.

Often, when clients come to us with finished products, conducting a conversation with them, we find out that many skip this stage. After launching a product, they naturally run into mistakes, and the product has to be completely redesigned. And this takes a lot of time and money.

At Northell, we have launched our own UX Laboratory. Our team uses UX Eye Tracker that allows exploring user behavior during interaction with the product.

Only 1% of companies use this method. An eye tracker is a unique tool that captures the movement of a person’s gaze and helps get a record of where and for how long the user was looking.

User testing with an eye-tracking tool allows us to watch the live eye tracking stream provided during usability testing. It also provides us with a deeper understanding of behavioral patterns and allows our team to ask more relevant and personalized questions for fuller insights into the user’s interaction.

9. UI Design

Northell Case Study: Referr

How to develop a CRM software that will make users fall in love at first sight? The answer is simple create a great UI design.

UI design is the process of translating user experience into visual details, which was developed based on studying the client’s world, researching the target audience. 

 UI design includes stages of work on the visual or graphical part of the interface: buttons, menus, icons, animations, illustrations, menus, collages, and fonts.

Using Referr project as an example, we will tell you how we worked on UI design. Based on the developed and approved wireframes for this project, we started working on the UI part of the web app. 

The logo for the company was developed based on our design solutions. It contains a stylized letter “R” from “Referr” that is easy to recognize among other services. This is exactly the element of uniqueness that we talked about earlier. 

As the main color, we chose a medium-light shade of blue that delivers a trustworthy and refreshing look that corresponds with the platform’s mission. The light theme and bright graphics allow for easy navigation on the web app and a comfortable user experience.

If you take a look at the NWCC platform, you will immediately notice that our design team used different shades of green for this CRM. Green has a calming effect and makes the user feel comfortable and safe.

Choosing the right colors and shades is very important in UI design. Colors evoke emotions, associations and help set the user up to the desired mood. 

10. Testing

UI testing wraps around two main areas of responsibility for quality control: 

  • First, it controls how a product responds to user input from the keyboard, mouse, and other input devices.
  • Second, it examines the correctness of the display and firing of visual elements. 

UI testing helps ensure that the CRM system meets the functional requirements and that users can use it in real work without risk to the case. For this reason, UI testing plays a vital role before a product is released.

11. Front-end

When the UX/UI design is ready and tested, your team can start full-fledged CRM system development. It doesn’t matter if you develop a CRM for a business or a SaaS CRM. You should remember that in either case, CRM is a complex system. Therefore, it is worthwhile to devote a lot of time and attention to the front-end. 

Much here, of course, depends on the level of knowledge and skills of the development team. The better the front-end part of CRM is done, the higher the likelihood that users will stay with you forever.

Some even the most experienced developers sometimes cannot choose the right framework for the project. If you encounter such a problem, we recommend that you read our article React Vs Vue Vs Angular: What to Choose for Web Development

The Northell development team is currently developing the front-end part for the NWCC project. As we said earlier, you will soon be able to see a full-fledged case on our website. For the front-end part, our team, in most cases, uses tech stacks such as Angular and React.

12. Back-end

The next important step will be the development of the back-end part of the system. The back-end is a set of tools through which the logic of the product is implemented. That is what is hidden from our eyes. 

As soon as you enter a query on the search engine page and press the “Enter” key, the front-end will end, and the back-end will begin. Your request will be sent to the Bing or Google server, i.e., to the location of the search algorithms. That is where all the “magic” happens. But now, the data that you requested appears on the monitor – this is a return to the front-end. 

At this stage, it is essential that your team is well versed in programming languages ​​and uses them for their intended purpose. As we said earlier, CRM is a complex system, so everything must be thought out and implemented in detail. Don’t know what language to choose for your project? Check our article Node.Js Vs Python: What Does Your Project Need?

13. QA

One of the last steps and the most important will be testing the entire product thoroughly. The Northell team devotes a lot of time to testing, because based on our experience, the sooner we can identify any problems, the better the result we will get.

At the testing stage, you can identify issues that can significantly affect the operation of the product in the future. In the case of CRM, this is especially important since such a system contains many different functions and processes, so you need to make sure that everything works perfectly.

14. Copywriting

It’s also important not to forget about content. In a CRM system, text blocks must be written correctly and concisely. Also, if you need a website, copywriting is a must-have. Usually, the content of the site is filled by a copywriter together with a marketer.

15. Integration

The last stage of custom CRM software development is integrating the system with other tools used by the company. Most often, a CRM system is not used alone. It is integrated with various supporting software for more efficient work.

Therefore, you must ensure that your CRM system integration runs smoothly and that everything works as you expect. For example, NWCC offers digital integration options such as direct integration with their API and integration in place with Built Technologies. 

How Much Does It Cost To Build A CRM? [Timeline]

How much does it cost to build a CRM? Of course, you are interested in this question. Let’s figure it out.

Of course, the price and time required for development will depend on the complexity of your system. The more features, modules, sections, and more complex they are, the more expensive the design and development of a CRM system will cost.

The location of your contractor will also affect the price. We have identified the main 4 regions that offer experienced and skilled IT specialists. Let’s take a look at approximate prices for different stages of custom CRM and SaaS CRM development based on this factor.      

Product discovery UI/UX design Development QA
Eastern Europe $35-60/hr $35-60/hr $30-80/hr $25-50/hr
Western Europe $45-90/hr $45-100/hr $55-100/hr $30-65/hr
South America $25-55/hr <$45/hr $25-55/hr $20-40/hr
Asia $15-25/hr <$40/hr <$45/hr <$30/hr

Let’s also consider how long it takes to develop a CRM product. For your convenience, we calculated how much time each stage of CRM creation will take for different sizes of businesses: 

Product discovery:

Enterprises: 60-120 hours.

Middle-size project: 30-60 hours.

Small projects: 15-30 hours.

UI/UX design:

Enterprises: 100-250 hours (UX), 200-300 hours (UI).

Middle-size project: 60-100 hours (UX), 55-110 hours (UI).

Small projects: 30-45 hours (UX), 25-50 (UI).

Development:

Enterprises: 20-50 hours (technical documentation), 250-500 hours (frontend), 300-600 hours (backend). 

Middle-size projects: 12-25 hours (technical documentation), 120-200 hours (frontend), 130-210 hours (backend).

Small projects: 8-10 hours (technical documentation), 70-90 hours (frontend), 80-100 hours (backend).

QA:

Enterprises: 80 hours.

Middle-size projects: 40-80 hours.

Small projects: 40 hours.

Having this information in mind, you can calculate the approximate development cost and timeline of the entire project. 

How To Build a CRM: Top Mistakes

One of the main mistakes that companies make when developing CRM systems is determining the wrong target audience and missing onboarding. Most competitors have already successfully begun to solve these problems. Throughout our work, we have highlighted other widespread mistakes that should not be made when creating custom CRM:

Make the CRM too complex

Even the most sophisticated technology will not enhance the company’s processes if end-users cannot find a feature they need. 

An overabundance of components on a CRM interface, rather than streamlining operations, may confuse people and decrease their productivity. 

Another common mistake that leads to project failure is concentrating only on what components to include in a CRM system while disregarding how employees will actually use them.

Not including analytical tools

Whatever kind of custom CRM system you develop, it will almost certainly gather a large quantity of data. However, if a system lacks the capabilities to evaluate data, you will lose out on the opportunity to fully use the potential of your CRM. 

You won’t be able to get valuable insights into your company’s present status, in particular. Without such insights, the company’s management would struggle to make data-driven choices and uncover bottlenecks in key processes.

Lack of communication

Custom CRM creation is often a time-consuming and complicated process. Consequently, without good communication with a development team, you’re unlikely to achieve the desired outcomes. 

If you restrict your participation in the project to a short explanation of your requirement, developers will be forced to make a number of critical CRM choices on their own. Because they don’t know your company as well as you do, some of their actions may be incorrect.

For example, working with the NWCC project, we established regular communication with the client from the first day. After talking with our designer, we found out that meetings and regular calls with a client helped avoid many mistakes in the design process.

The client wanted to use older methods and approaches in the platform. We, in turn, offered to make a more straightforward and modern design. Thanks to well-established communication, we were able to find a compromise and meet our client’s needs.

Although building the whole system from scratch may seem daunting at first, it is well worth the effort. Companies make “fatal” mistakes while building custom CRM, such as unclear requirements, poor usability, a lack of communication, a lack of analytical tools, and a lack of third-party connections.

However, you may simply prevent them by hiring an experienced development team that understands the process.

How To Build A CRM: Final Thoughts

To build a tool that can improve the efficiency of business processes, creating a custom CRM system requires planning and an in-depth study of the company’s business processes. However, the outcomes are worth the effort. 

You will receive a CRM system that will help you optimize your operations and get insights into your clients if you create a custom solution that fits your company objectives and needs. That is something that no off-the-shelf product can accomplish for you. And by creating a SaaS CRM, you can start a new business and start earning money. 

The Northell team has significant expertise in CRM system development. We design custom solutions that assist businesses in increasing their productivity by combining cutting-edge technology and innovative concepts.

Data security is critical to the CRM development process so that you can be sure of the product’s dependability. If you wish to discuss a project or obtain an estimate, just contact us. We will work together to discover the finest software solution for your requirements.

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