For the most part, homegrown things are great. We can get behind homegrown vegetables, flowers, and craft beer. But your homegrown CRM system? That’s another story. For professional services firms in accounting, consulting, legal and AEC, CRM systems are the lifeblood of building relationships and service dollars. And if you want to keep your staff and customers happy, maybe you should start shopping for a CRM that is enterprise-grade, instead of wasting money and manpower on a homegrown CRM system that’s sub-par. Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Homegrown CRM systems don't come with free stuff or shiny new toys
Whether you purchase Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics CRM, by virtue of the platform alone you get access to the tools, functionality, and integrations your team needs. Whether it's reporting, mobile apps, forecasting, user authentication, or especially integrations with tools you use, need and love; incorporating these features into a homegrown CRM system (and maintaining said integrations) would come at an exorbitant cost (and still wouldn’t work as well). Name brand CRM solutions not only give you all this for free, but also constantly deliver new innovations. Both Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM release regular updates 2-3 times a year, and you don't have to do a thing to reap the benefits.
With either platform you never have to build the mobile app or Outlook integration your users clamored for and you constantly get great new things like OneNote integration. A lot of professional services firm use OneNote (and who wouldn't, it's a great tool!) and for Microsoft Dynamics CRM users, no one had to ask for an integration between the two tools: Microsoft built and delivered the ability for OneNote to sync to CRM out of the box. If you wanted to integrate OneNote with your homegrown CRM, it would cost an untold amount of money (and might not even be legal). A huge benefit of buying a CRM, rather than building one, is you get access to the shiny new toys (and tried and true programs) your users will love.
2. Homegrown CRM systems aren't user-friendly
Let me say this another way: a lot of homegrown CRM systems are ugly. And clunky. And your people don't want to use tools that are ugly and clunky. So if supporting user adoption is part of your CRM initiative (which it absolutely should be) good luck getting your team to regularly use a system that is as painful to look at as it is to use. Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com both have teams of UX designers for precisely this reason: CRM solutions must be visually appealing to be appealing.
3. Homegrown CRM systems are difficult to maintain
A majority of the homegrown CRMs we get a glimpse of were built 10-20 years ago, exist on-prem, and look like Microsoft Office applications from the late 90s, or worse, are green screens that only very technical people can touch. All of these factors (and trust us, there are plenty of others) contribute to the fact that homegrown CRM systems can be extremely difficult to maintain. And that's if you hold on to the employee that can maintain them.
Does this sound familiar? "Yeah, we had a guy here in the early 2000's that built our system but he left 5 years ago. No one on staff understands the system, no one can update it, and it's just sitting on our server untouched." Like we said, maintainability is a big issue for homegrown CRM systems.
4. Homegrown CRM systems make customizations painful
Assuming you are one of the fortunate few who have been able to keep their homegrown CRM guru on staff for the past two decades and he/she knows every in and out of the system, this doesn't mean that making changes is easy to do. When it's entirely custom, your CRM expert is likely using duct tape, spit, and prayers to make the system do what you want it to do. On the other hand, Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM allow you to make changes to the system with simple point-and-click, drag-and-drop configurations that require a Business Analyst skillset, not a developer coding away.
If you need someone more technical to make changes, there are plenty of developers you can hire on either platform to work in-house at your firm or as a consultant. Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM also have lots of great partners (like Sonoma Partners *ahem!*) who are very well-versed on the platform, have solved similar problems to yours countless times before, and have helpful tools and tricks to make selecting, switching to, upgrading, and maintaining Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics CRM easier and more cost effective than doing so with internal resources.
Want to learn more about enterprise-grade CRM systems? We're all ears (and solutions).