Build vs buy—5 reasons you shouldn’t build your own CRM

By Sangeetha Parthasarathy

As a business consulting company, we frequently hear the comment, “We are more than capable of building our own home-grown technology ecosystem.” That's great. But before you jump in head-first, and start buying a bunch of servers and stalking developers on LinkedIn, you should consider everything required to build, implement, and maintain your system.

Here at Bluewolf, we’ve discovered several misguided rationales behind building your own CRM. To avoid falling into those traps, consider these 5 wrong reasons to build your own CRM:

  1. “I can build it, so I will.”

    This is the most common reason. We often come across tech companies, start-ups, online retailers, etc. who have a lot of in-house technology expertise. While it is logical to think that a company can achieve this technology transformation in-house, issues often lie around resourcing and prioritisation.

    Development resources are often tight and are necessarily channeled towards projects directly related to your business—your software, your ecommerce site, and your products. Creating a slew of homegrown applications that do not have specific roadmaps can be costly to maintain and aren’t always flexible enough to meet your business needs. Think about your current resources before taking on such a project, because the truth is—just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

  2. “But our business is different.”

    This is my favourite. Having been in the consulting business for a long time, I often hear this from clients. While every company has its unique way of doing business, there are some basic common denominators, especially for CRM.

    Every company wants to improve the top-line revenues while running an efficient bottom-line business. Marketing wants more brand-awareness and leads. Sales wants more pipe and closed deals, and services wants great customer experience at optimal cost.

    Cloud CRM solutions have periodic releases with new features based on listening to thousands of customers and closely watching market trends and needs. If you have a complex process, chances are, some company, in some vertical, in some geography, has a version of it. At Bluewolf, for example, we have successfully partnered with companies on thousands of implementations globally. These clients span many different profiles in terms of size, complexity, integration requirements, and geographies.

    It is a constantly changing landscape, one that CRM vendors and solutions providers watch and react to everyday. Trust the experts.

  3. “I built a CRM from scratch in my old company.”

    Congrats! That is very impressive. It is no easy feat to understand the needs of a company, marshal resources, and deliver a successful project. But, just because you were able to achieve this in the past, does not mean you can repeat the same thing at your current company.

    Some things to consider; what is the caliber of developers you have? What are your company's priorities? What is your operating model budget and how does it relate to your TCO (total cost of ownership)?

  4. “We have in-house developers and off-shore partners to build it: it’s cheaper that way.”

    Is it? Having worked with at least six different companies with two or more failed CRM initiatives, I can genuinely say that this is the most dangerous of the 5 reasons.

    In-house development as a part of IT is a ‘cost center,’ sapping IT and financial resources. In addition, offshore resources need tight coordination and communication. Even if you had the technical expertise, what about the strategy? What about business analysis best practices? How do you ensure adoption and account for continued governance costs?

    The list of questions is endless. Have a clear understanding of total business impact costs, not just IT resources costs.

  5. “My technology stack is way too complicated to integrate, I’d rather build on top of what I have.”

    This is actually a complex one. Many businesses are unfortunately tied into lengthy contracts and messy, outdated integration infrastructures, as well as legacy “homegrown” platforms.

    For such companies, the cost of making a big-bang change can be prohibitive and risky. But this is all the more reason not to build on top of what is already unstable and outdated. This will increase your TCO dramatically with time, as this becomes ever more costly in support and process.

In summary, there isn’t a standard answer to whether you should build or buy, no matter what the cloud vendors tell you. But unless you are a top-secret government organisation governed by stringent data security laws, there is every reason to carefully evaluate respected cloud applications like salesforce.com. That way you can be sure you make the right choice for driving long term value in your business.

Considering a switch in your CRM? Talk with a Bluewolf consultant.

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