Build or Buy. Why choose a bespoke solution over COTS to integrate your CRM?
To build or buy is an old dilemma. When it comes to your CRM integration with other systems, it is, roughly speaking, about balancing long term results with immediate ones.
A Bit of Background
Typically, implementing a Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) system allows companies to better manage how they interact with prospects and existing customers. CRMs track all customer related data and provide the sales and support teams not only with the customers’ contact details but also with an always up to date status of the relationship between them and your company. In doing so, a CRM has to gather data from many different communication channels such as the company’s website, email, chat, telephone, and even social media.
A Simple Analogy
If you followed our introduction, you can now think of a CRM as a front-end system. But, just as a web front-end is of little or no use without a back-end to provide it with data from other systems and perform many tasks under the hood, a siloed CRM is not very useful in its own. Thus, many companies integrate their CRMs with other systems such as ERPs, e-commerce websites and so on and so forth.
Let’s have a quick look at the most important benefits such integration could bring:
- Get a 360-degree view customer view of your customers
- Streamline business processes
- Reduce manual processes that are prone to human error and time-consuming
- Have all the data synchronized in a centralized system
Buy vs Build
So, which direction should you go? Each option has its own pros and cons, but we think that custom solutions are usually the right choice. Next, we will walk you through the most important benefits a customized software for integrating your CRM with other internal systems could bring.
Real Ownership of the Product
For starters, it is important to mention that, when you pay for a COTS, you essentially rent it. It is true that you get the right to use it, but you don’t own it.
So, what happens if the vendor decides to terminate the product or simply discontinues some key features? The answer is simple – you will end up with a piece of software in which you invested lots of money, but can’t keep up with your business needs.
Now let’s say you decide to hire a software company to develop a bespoke solution. In doing so, you will own the source code. What this means is that you will always be in a position to add or remove features. Simply put, a bespoke software never gets out-of-date and is always perfectly synched with your business needs.
There is a common misperception that custom software solutions are more expensive. However, when deciding what option to choose, you should factor in all associated costs such as expensive trainings, and support fees. So, even if a bespoke software might incur a higher upfront cost but, in the long run, you are likely to save money.
And while we are here, let’s talk a bit about customization.
The vast majority of COTS applications claim they are easily customizable. But it is always important to assess the degree of customization needed in order to satisfy your unique needs. You might find that the extra costs required to customize a COTS solution make it significantly more expensive than a tailor-made software.
Conventional wisdom says that ready-made software solutions are more secure. But, this doesn’t take into account that the most popular applications are prime targets for hackers because a bug found in a COTS product can be used in the commission of many hacks.
However, if you decide to use bespoke software to integrate your CRM with other internal systems, the chances of a hack are minimized. Why? Because only you are using it and the reward a hacker might get is far less tempting.
Truth be told, using COTS software is usually going to help you integrate your CRM with other systems faster. For most applications, there will be built-in connectors. For the others, you’ll likely have to use some kind of a workaround. These workarounds will work fine as long as your business processes are simple. But, when your business will grow and your processes will become more complex, these workarounds will become a big hassle. And this is not all. While your business will grow, your licensing fees are going to escalate as well.
Conversely, using bespoke software will come with higher upfront costs. But, once your data integration software is up and running, you will have an application that seamlessly supports all your business needs and security requirements. In the long run, this will bring important money savings and might even turn into a competitive advantage.
Now, you are probably asking yourself how should you go about it. Should you rely on your in-house team or hire an agency?
While trusting the in-house team with this task might seem more efficient, you should first consider if your team has all the required knowledge for such a complex job. Bringing to life a data integration platform requires a vast array of skills such as business analysis, software development, project management, testing, etc.
If you are like most companies, your in-house team doesn’t have all the required skills. Also, they usually don’t have the time to do it either. This is why partnering with an agency that provides a turnkey package is the best choice you can make.