What Is CRM Development and Why Do You Need It | 2020
crm develppment
crm develppment

CRM Development

What is CRM? Examples of well-known CRMs, importance of rapid prototyping, and security challenges in CRM development

The competition in the market is getting tougher these days and many businesses are working double to reach a larger audience and increase their sales.

The battle nowadays is not won just by scaling your scope to reach a larger audience and build awareness for your brand. It is no longer just about running campaigns, prospecting, and making one-time sales. Now, for brands to grow bigger and get more profits, they need to build relationships with their customers. The way to beat out the competition is by analyzing the market, reaching out to the most promising customers, converting them to buyers, and building a lasting relationship with them to make them come back and buy again.

The idea behind it is simple – better to have a smaller group of recurring buyers, rather than targeting a big group of potential clients who might not be interested in the products or services you sell. This strategy is called CRM or Customer Relationship Management.

What is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business strategy used by companies to manage, analyze, and connect customer interactions and relationships. It does not only focus on the current customers but also covers the whole niche market (from potential buyers to previous customers). CRM is often considered as a system gathering data from different company’s departments to help the organization focus on each customer individually throughout the relationship lifecycle.

Nowadays, a lot of firms rely on CRM technology to maintain customer relationships, streamline processes, track sales leads, and improve profitability by delivering actionable data. With CRM software, companies can synchronize customer communications among business units and provide a seamless customer experience without missing anyone.

If you would like to get to know about CRM and other innovative, real-life technologies in the bookkeeping sector, read more here. Also, you can take a look at the most recommended CRM softwares for 2020.

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Now, for brands to grow bigger and get more profits, they need to build relationships with their customers.

Importance of custom solutions in CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business strategy used by companies to manage, analyze, and connect customer interactions and relationships. It does not only focus on the current customers but also covers the whole niche market (from potential buyers to previous customers). CRM is often considered as a system gathering data from different company’s departments to help the organization focus on each customer individually throughout the relationship lifecycle.

Nowadays, a lot of firms rely on CRM technology to maintain customer relationships, streamline processes, track sales leads, and improve profitability by delivering actionable data. With CRM software, companies can synchronize customer communications among business units and provide a seamless customer experience without missing anyone.

Benefits of tailor-made CRM solutions

  • Personalization – The software is built from scratch upon the client’s requirements.
  • Scalability – As the requirements change over time it is much easier to adapt and scale custom solutions.
  • Integration – The custom solution can easily be integrated with the company’s internal systems.
  • Efficiency – In the long run custom solutions require less further investments run effectively.
  • Maintenance – The support of a dedicated technical team, which developed the software, allows to quickly find solutions to any problems that show up.

Examples of well-known CRM software​

Given the numerous CRM software available in the market, businesses can easily find one that can help their brand. Some of the more well-known CRM software include Salesforce, Hubspot, PipeDrive, Zoho, Oracle on Demand CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and SAP CRM. In order to decide on which one to purchase, one can read reviews from clients who have used the specific software and check out their success stories.

Importance of rapid prototyping​

Another approach that helps run the business more effectively and craft solutions more efficiently is rapid prototyping. The main idea behind rapid prototyping is that it allows firms to quickly improve the design before actual development begins. That, in turn, saves time and money. This approach is based on creating prototypes in short cycles to simulate the future state of the product. With that being said it is clear that rapid prototyping is a great solution for the CRM system being custom solutions.

The process of rapid prototyping could be summarized in three steps:

  1. Prototyping – the creation of either a low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototype. The difference between them lays in the prototype’s level of complexity.
  2. Feedback – the process of evaluating if the product meets the client’s design and functionality requirements.
  3. Improvements – the process of creating a new prototype based on the feedback gathered earlier. After improvements were implemented cycle starts again from the feedback step.

The cycle continues until there are no more changes to be done.

The rapid prototyping approach brings some crucial benefits:

  • Quick design improvement
  • Focus on the core features of the product
  • Early feedback from the client’s perspective that helps avoid the need for major changes later in the process
  • Creation of interactive prototypes allows the application to be tested by real users reducing the likelihood of bugs occurrence in the final product
  • Everyone in the team is involved in the design process
  • Reduced likelihood of final product failure as the project’s issues are being tackled at the prototyping phase

Tools for rapid prototyping

  • Balsamiq – created prototypes may look a little rough, but their creation requires little effort and time and it is often enough to encourage brainstorming.
  • MockFlow – it comes with a package of standard UI elements and the ad Mock Store allowing great design. It also supports collaboration.
  • UXPin – involves both wireframing and prototyping, allows its fast and easy creation, and the ability to customize every used element.
  • Prott – excels at prototypes for more complicated applications. Not only does it include a huge number of prepared UI kits but it also allows creating your own kits or import sketches from photographs.

Visit this article to read more about technologies for rapid prototyping.
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CRM is often considered as a system gathering data from different company’s departments to help the organization focus on each customer individually throughout the relationship lifecycle.

Security challenges in CRM development​

Cyberattacks continue to become a threat to businesses all over the world. Many online websites and tools contain sensitive information and personal details which are often targeted by hackers. CRM development tools are also subject to these security threats. It is developer’s job to know the threats and methods of dealing with them in order to ensure top security.

Below is the list of the most common challenges faced during CRM development:

1. SQL injection

When dealing with the user’s input there is a possibility that instead of the actual input SQL statement is passed. It results in a database running the malicious code allowing the attacker to bypass the authentication and freely access sensitive data or modify the database. To prevent such things from happening developers should implement validation for every input and use parameterized queries with prepared statements.

2. Database transactions

Imagine that you want to transfer your money to another account. You could do it in two ways: take the money off your account and then add it to the second one or add the money to the second account and then take money off first. 

Either way, if something goes wrong between these two steps, you have a problem. A transaction is a mechanism allowing you to treat a group of operations as a unit. By doing so you are sure that if all operations do not execute successfully the state of the system will be the same as before the execution. What is more, transactions help to prevent race conditions where resources want to modify some data at the same time.

3. Data encryption

The security might not only concern the data access but also the data itself. Encryption uses complex algorithms to transform the data from a readable state into a ciphertext of unreadable characters. This is done with the creation of a key generated by the algorithm. It allows users to easily decrypt data, but someone without the possession of a key will not be able to retrieve anything useful. So developers need to make sure they use strong encryption algorithms and the user’s data keys are stored safely.

4. Using servers behind VPN

The usage of Virtual Private Network is really wide but its main purpose is to provide the safety of server connections. With the amount of data going one way or another, it is essential to provide another layer of defense against potential attackers.

DevsData’s suggestions when developing CRM software

Cloud - a high-quality and durable server

Every application which hosts information for other devices on the network either LAN or Internet needs a computer to run on. In the modern world besides traditional on-premise servers, customers can choose to use the cloud for storing and computing. 

Typically, a server is associated with a PC running the whole day and night, but it can be anything ranging from microcomputers to clusters of very efficient devices. As it is usually cheaper to host applications on your own hardware there are many problems that the company can encounter when using it. 

First of all, when we decide to use Cloud for our application we do not need to care about maintaining the architecture. There’s no need to replace broken parts or to upgrade the specification of the server. In the cloud, the user has almost unlimited resources that are available to use. Of course, the more resources are used, the more users must pay to the provider. 

Secondly, the firm in which the client buys storage services guarantees that their resources will be available and ready to use almost all the time. For example, Amazon states that its S3 Storage is designed for 99.99% availability over the year and durability of 99.999999999% (nine 9’s after the comma). 

Lastly, using cloud speeds up the early development process, as it is not required to build and configure your own server which is great for rapid software development. 

In summary, using a cloud in the long term is usually more expensive than using your own machines but for the higher cost user gets more reliable and easier to administer a server.

A few words on the frontend frameworks...

In the modern software development process it is very rare to create console applications without a graphical user interface. It is also very popular to create web applications as an Internet connection is much more reliable than years ago. Considering these two facts one can draw a conclusion that creating websites with nice GUI is the way to go. 

There are many technologies that are suitable for creating it. The three very popular frontend frameworks are Angular, React ad Vue.js. Although their general purpose is the same they are quite differently used. 

Angular is said to be the hardest to learn from the mentioned before. It was written in Typescript – a superset of the Javascript. It is eagerly used by corporations but its popularity is decreasing, as many users prefer to switch to other options. 

React and Vue.js are popular in smaller companies with the first being the most popular framework, developed and used by Facebook and second gaining popularity very fast and being the most lightweight – only about 20kbs.

… and on the backend technologies

Mentioned before frameworks take care of Visual content of the website but companies need to choose also languages and frameworks responsible for the logic of the application. There are many choices here. 

Java with Spring framework

One of them is Java and it’s Spring framework. It is one of the most popular programming languages. It is widely taught in Universities so it has many users. It is a multiplatform, multipurpose language. It can be used for writing desktop applications, native Android applications, and websites. 

Most of the corporations use it among others for the mentioned reasons, but one of the most important is that technology has to be stable. Java was used successfully and tested by many companies. It is a mature technology that is known for being secure and stable which is very important for business applications such as CRM or ERP systems (a similar concept which we have described in our other article). 

It is of high level and speed, unfortunately, is not its disadvantage. Of course, there are faster languages but usually are of a lower level. In summary, choosing Java is a good compromise between speed, availability of developers, and speed of the development. 

Other options

On the other hand, numerous software houses and start-ups prefer other technologies. One popular example is Node.js. It is a runtime environment that allows executing JavaScript code outside of a browser. It can be used with Typescript as it has a transpiler which converts Typescript to Javascript code. The popularity of Node comes from the popularity of Javascript – according to many sources the most popular language in the world. Also, choosing it allows using one language in the entire application – both backend and frontend. 

The second option often used among startups and smaller firms are Python and its Django and Flask frameworks. According to StackOverflow’s survey, it is second the most loved language and 4th on the list of the most popular technologies. Python is known for being good for the fast prototyping and development process with Django. Flask, on the other hand, is popular as a tool for creating smaller applications. 

Stability or modern trends?

Applications have to be stable. As mentioned, Java is a good choice if stability is our main concern. Although it is a very important part of the application, it is not worth limiting yourself to one technology. 

There are many things to consider while choosing the right one such as the speed of the development, availability of the developers on the market, available libraries, constant improvements for the language, etc. Considering those facts it is safer to use proven solutions instead of cutting edge technologies, but being stuck in one technology for years is not a right choice either.

Common components every CRM should have

CRM systems usually should implement similar concepts. For example, one of the common components is a data warehouse. It is a database containing information about the users or other entities in such a way it is easier to analyze them. Data is taken from other components such as Sales, Marketing, or Human Resources. 

A very trendy field in the IT world lately is Data Science which needs a high volume of data for better predictions. It is an interdisciplinary field that uses math, statistics, and computer systems to draw conclusions from the collected information. Other typical components can be Customer Services or Opportunity and contact managers.

Authentication systems for CRM software

Probably everyone reading this article will agree that managing many accounts can be cumbersome. There are various available authenticating systems, such as NTLM written by Microsoft and Kerberos developed at Massachusets Institute of Technology that can simplify management as users will not be required to create yet another account for a new CRM system. 

 

Although Kerberos was not invented by the Redmond giant, it is supported by this company and is used as the default one on Windows. Using passwords can be dangerous as anybody who knows somebody’s password can technically login and pretend to be the victim. Using modern protocols adds an additional layer of security. When the client wants to connect to the server it is required to confirm his identity by the trusted third-party server. 

In conclusion, implementing the use of mentioned or other protocols in the CRM system, besides reducing the number of accounts in use, additionally increases security. That makes it a great alternative to creating its own authentication method.

Summary

CRM software plays a crucial role in every company’s operation. Although there multiple CRM programs on the market, tailored-made software may turn out to be a better solution for some of the businesses.

During the development process, one should not forget about rapid prototyping and the importance of maintaining a high level of security. There are also different technologies – both on the front and back end side – which may be used.  

In order to find out more about the CRM software, visit the website of DevsData or contact us directly by email.

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