CRM software build or buy? 4 questions to ask

CRM software is a powerful tool and there are many options available for people interested in acquiring a system to improve their business sales process

CRM software that is well implemented has the power to boost business revenue, manage sales performance and improve customer experience. However this requires a level of investment, which can impact affordability especially in the case of smaller businesses. Therefore it is no real surprise to hear the build versus buy question when it comes to software.

The move from on-premises models to cloud-based SaaS models means that investment can be spread out as opposed to being front loaded at early stages of implementation. However software licensing fees have left many considering alternative options and looking at ways in which they can save even more money by building their own bespoke systems in-house.

So should you build or buy CRM software? Here are 5 key questions you should ask when considering:

1. Does your business have very specific needs that can’t be met using an off the shelf system?

A custom built CRM system can be designed to meet your exact needs. This is the most common selling point of building your own system. However most business today are not singular in their approach and many CRM systems available to buy now are highly configurable already.

2. Do you have the development and support staff to hand?

From a time and resource perspective, it will nearly always be much easier to modify an existing CRM over building a new one from scratch. If you purchase a CRM from a provider it usually means that development and support responsibilities fall on them over you. This cuts down the amount of time and staff resource required from you to manage such processes.

3. Could you afford bad system performance and server downtime issues?

If your servers can handle your custom-built CRM system then you are in good shape. If your company infrastructure isn’t up to scratch then you will need to factor in many things. These can include costs for hardware, internet, space, repair and maintenance amongst others. Typically, larger organisations will be more likely to have the resources required to actually save money in this regard.

4. Do you need to start implementing CRM quickly?

If you do, finding an existing CRM system that works for your business might be the best option. Most off the shelf systems nowadays have relatively quick implementation times and can be up and running in as little as 1 month.

Building a custom system takes time to develop and test. You will then need to add on time for training and adoption across your operations which will also have budget considerations.

Final thoughts

Large businesses with more complex needs that have existing IT resources, systems and budgets could be more suited for a custom-built CRM. So should you buy or build CRM? The quick and simple answer would be to buy an industry-leading system and then tailoring it to your needs. Most CRM systems available today are designed to be flexible for this purpose.


Clarity Software is a leading provider of MIS, CRM, estimating and quoting solutions for any business type and size. Over 5,000 users currently use Clarity end-to-end software solutions to improve business processes.

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