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The advancement of technology in real estate has transformed the industry and significantly boosted transactional values. What was considered to be a ‘brick and mortar’ business setup has taken giant strides over the last decade with software for literally every real estate function. Be it investments, acquisitions, sales, leasing, property management, facilities management, finance, or operations – there’s software for everything. As companies embrace technology, a common dilemma is – Build vs Buy Real Estate CRM Software.
In this blog, we will talk specifically about CRM and Property Management Software.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has become an indispensable tool for managing leads, streamlining operations, and maximizing profits. The very definition of CRM has evolved from merely ‘managing customers’ to creating a ‘customer experience’ – all while making life easier for the users of the software. When it comes to implementing solutions, real estate professionals face a crucial decision: should they build a custom CRM system or buy an off-the-shelf solution?
This decision depends on multiple factors like the budget, the size of the company, the complexity of the processes, the requirements, etc. The larger the organization, the more the complexities in the processes. Naturally, the higher the budget, the more the affordability for tier 1 global solutions. Similarly, if the requirement is short-term, it is preferable to buy, whereas if it’s a long-term project, investments may be made to build a solution over a period of time.
Apart from a sense of control, custom-built real estate CRM software lends personal comfort to the IT team managing the solution. However, having the entire responsibility of handling each aspect across support, upgrades, enhancement, customization, integration, etc. poses a stiff challenge. Let’s discuss some of those points in detail:
Tailorable: A custom solution accommodates the specific business requirements of the team with the flexibility to include essential features. Moreover, any additional changes can be configured and applied to the CRM.
Lack of Dependency: A home-grown system is manageable internally without the need to consult vendors or third-party consultants. This allows more control over the development and customization of the solution.
Data Ownership: There is more ownership and control over data. This becomes particularly important for managing sensitive client information.
User Adoption: Building a custom CRM allows for targeted training programs that specifically align with the system’s functionalities. This can result in quicker adoption and proficiency among users. Building CRM also allows easier addition/removal of features as needed to accommodate the changing requirements of the business.
Time-Consuming: Building a CRM from scratch takes months and even years right from ideation to development to launch. The collective efforts cumulate to a significant investment, both in terms of time and money.
Expensive: Apart from the initial investment and cost to develop the solution, the opportunity cost of building a CRM is quite substantial. Hiring developers, designers, and technical experts to maintain the systems are all costs to account for.
Over-Burdened IT Team: For an organization that manages multiple applications, the entire responsibility of CRM is overwhelming for the internal team. Managing processes across development, customization, testing, and maintenance is a challenge.
Disparate Applications Ecosystem: Custom applications often are harder to integrate with third-party applications in an organization. In the absence of an integrated solution landscape, siloed data and information lead to data duplication and inaccurate reporting.
When purchased from a trusted vendor, the software eases a lot of the responsibilities of the internal team. Not only would it offer an industry-standard solution, but also a narrower implementation time frame. While buying a solution, a company can choose proprietary software or a powerful technology platform like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, etc. with a vertical real estate solution.
The very idea of an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) like Property-xRM is that it provides industry-specific functionalities that are custom-built and ready to deploy for real estate organizations.
Let’s dive deep into some of the key points in detail:
Rapid Deployment: An off-the-shelf Real Estate CRM can be implemented in double quick time, allowing users to start benefitting from the features and functionalities almost immediately. Experienced real estate CRM implementors like Metadata Technologies can also partner in your projects with industry best practice suggestions.
Support and Updates: Buying a Real Estate CRM will also offer support plans from the implementing partner to resolve any issues in the system. Platform-related updates and enhancements will become part of the CRM on a periodic basis. This, in turn, ensures improved security and scalability.
Credible Solutions: Commercially used Real Estate CRMs bring in a sense of reliability being adopted previously in the market. A proven track record in the industry and referenceable clients for a product are confidence boosters for an organization.
Industry-Standard Features: Ready-to-use solutions come with a set of out-of-the-box functionalities for the industry. For instance, inventory management in real estate is unique and a highly important component that could be readily utilized by companies.
Scalability: Purchasing enterprise-level CRM software allows easier scalability as organizations can quickly onboard a large number of users with little effort.
Learning and Knowledge Transfer: Making a transition to a new software can be challenging if the system in question is complex. The system interface and usability are key factors to consider. However, world-class solutions like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 are considered fairly easy to work with.
Abundance of Features: Who would have thought, right? Too many out-of-the-box features and functionalities do more harm than good. The ability and provision to pick and choose preferred modular functions is a value-add in software solutions.
Data and Security Concerns: Organizations may be unwilling to store sensitive client data or transactions in third-party CRM or cloud servers. However, in today’s ‘cloud-first’ approach, ensuring vendor compliance with data protection regulations covers a majority of concerns. Microsoft’s cloud, for example, is a recognized industry leader with end-to-end cloud protection.
Annual Costs: Ongoing costs for license subscription, maintenance, and an added price for additional customizations tag along with a software purchase. This is a worldwide practice commonly observed in the software industry. In comparison to building software, this approach allows companies to allocate budgets more accurately with distributed development costs.
Vendor Reliability: This is possibly one of the most crucial points. A vendor not specialized in real estate will fail to understand the industry standard processes and struggle during customization and workflow management. Global CRM solutions like Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP have also failed in real estate companies. Not because the software wasn’t good, but because the implementing partner didn’t understand the industry. Metadata Technologies and Property-xRM bring over 2 decades of real estate software implementation expertise, massively reducing the chances of failure.
Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of building vs buying software, let’s look at the option of how the two approaches, combined, offer great benefits for organizations. This is the biggest benefit of choosing a universal technology platform against a proprietary solution.
The challenges with proprietary solutions are vendor lock-in, limited integrations, and restrictions in customization. Combining this with the limited availability of resources – support and custom development becomes a struggle.
‘Buying‘ real estate vertical solutions on global technology like Microsoft gives organizations an option to ‘Build‘ on the platform by hiring certified consultants. Not only does this boost scalability, but also provides immense cost benefits over a period of time. By reducing the dependency on the vendor for minor changes or requests, real estate companies leverage the best of both the ‘buying and building’ worlds.
Quick Implementation | Customization Capabilities | Lower Cost of Ownership
In addition, the amazing capabilities of the Microsoft Power Platform promote low-code custom development empowering companies to further enhance their ‘purchased’ solution. The entire Microsoft ecosystem of Office 365 applications (Excel, Outlook, Word, Teams), LinkedIn connectivity, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Cloud offer companies an option to consolidate their real estate operations.
In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between building and buying real estate CRM software, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It ultimately depends on your business’s unique needs, budget, and timeline. However, considering the challenges associated with custom development, a platform like Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Property-xRM as a vertical solution presents a compelling option.
It combines the benefits of customization, scalability, and integration with a world-class platform known for its reliability and security, giving real estate professionals a competitive advantage in a dynamic market. Learn more about why Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Property-xRM for real estate developers and home builders.