Off-The-Shelf vs Bespoke CRM Solutions

When deciding whether to use an off the shelf CRM software, or to have a custom software consultancy develop a bespoke one, there are several pro’s and con’s every company should consider. The ultimate answer is likely to lie in what the business requires the software to do, as well as the overall cost including purchase and ownership.

At Ballard Chalmers, we use our extensive experience and unique approach to help our clients navigate this decision-making minefield. Here are a few pro’s and con’s that we work through with our customers, to help them make the right decision for their specific requirements:

Off-the Shelf CRM Software Pro’s and Con’s

The obvious benefit of off-the-shelf software is its initial cost. Those upfront development costs are spread across all of the software sales, making them far more cost-effective. Ease of installation and use of off-the-shelf software are also benefits. They will be quick and easy to install and many more people are likely to already have user experience, and access to user communities. And finally, off-the-shelf software is likely to be more reliable as it will have been extensively tested in the field, particularly if it is a well-established product with multiple updates behind it.

An off-the-shelf software will always be a compromise for the user, as it is designed to meet the potential needs of as many users as possible. It is likely to have a lot of unnecessary options and should any customization be required; the cost will be prohibitively high. Industry specific off-the-shelf software can also be slow to react to changes in industry needs.

Custom CRM Software Pros and Cons

Contracting a custom software consultancy to develop bespoke CRM software, gives the user unlimited options and the flexibility to have all the options they need, and none that they don’t. Depending upon the agreement with the developers, complete ownership of the software is a likely benefit too. Long term planning will allow the CRM to start small and grow and develop as the company does, and design changes and maintenance will be made more quickly and easily.

Compared to off-the-shelf software, custom software has a much higher initial cost and can take a long time to create. The likelihood of bugs and fixes being required after launch is far higher, due to less testing and indeed much of the real testing is likely to be done by the users themselves, all of whom will require bespoke training.

So, the message here is to consider all the pro’s and con’s for both options before committing to any investment in either. Each and every company is different and what is right for one is unsuitable for another. Discussing your requirements with an experienced and unbiassed software company is a great start. Taking time to review, wherever possible test, and consider all options available is also highly recommended.