Evaluating a Customization for CRM Implementation: Cost vs. Value

Your organization has purchased a new Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) product; now what? After buying a CRM and during implementation, organizations must decide if they should undergo customizations. Customizing a CRM has many benefits but comes with a high cost—in both time and resources. The questions surrounding CRM customizations are common and should be considered carefully.


What is the guidance or thought process behind CRM customizations?  


Some organizations feel they’ve spent enough money on the product itself and say “no” to all customizations. In contrast, others decide to customize until its unrecognizable as the original CRM program. But doing this fall into software development—which isn’t practical.


It shouldn’t be an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to customizations of your CRM system. Instead, there needs to be a balance, making decisions based on the organization’s needs while assessing value and cost.


Here’s a three-step process you can use to evaluate the cost to the value of your CRM customizations.


Step one: Usability

Not every customization will apply to every organization, nor should it. Therefore, the first step in evaluating the cost to value is deciding if (and how) the CRM customization will benefit your organization. To identify the purpose and use of the customization, ask yourself these questions.


  • What is it going to do for our organization?
  • What department or business units will the CRM customization support?
  • How many people will it benefit? If it’s only helping one person, is it worth it?
  • What departments will use it?
  • How will it be used?
  • Can we articulate the purpose?
  • What is it going to do for us?
  • What problem will it resolve?


These questions will help you develop a deeper understanding of exactly how a CRM customization can impact your organization.


Step two: Return on Investment

Creating a CRM customization requires time and resources. To ensure the results are worth the cost, you must first evaluate where you will get the most return on your investment. There are usually five areas where CRM customizations have a high return on investment.


  1. Time-saving:  Customizations that save users time also increase efficiency and usually have a high return on investment.
  2. Usability:  Customizations that increase usability for a large number of users are often worth the cost because they increase efficiency.
  3. Capability:  Customizations that allow you to capitalize on an opportunity and do more than you would do without it offer a good return on investment.
  4. Data quality:  Your organization relies on quality data, and if customization increases data quality, it also decreases your risk, which can increase your return on investment.
  5. Regulatory compliance:  Customizations that increase regulatory compliance are often worth the investment because it decreases your risk.


As you continue to assess the cost to value ratio for your CRM customization, always aim to define the value—whether it’s money-saving, opportunity, or avoiding risk.


Step three: Actual Cost

Whether to engage in CRM customizations often comes back to the actual costs. Actual costs are not only what you’re going to pay the implementation consultant to build it, but your team’s resources and time invested to support it. For example, customizations will require your team to validate it and create resources for documentation and training.


When evaluating customizations for your CRM, think about these do’s and don’ts.


  • Don’t talk about high cost, low value: Too much cost up front that doesn’t offer much value long-term is not worth your time and resources.
  • Don’t consider low cost, low value: This can be a trap. If it’s low value, why are you even considering it? There’s likely not much benefit to it at any point.
  • Do consider high cost, high value:  While high cost, high value can benefit your organization, consider it carefully. Have you assessed everything in terms of value?
  • Do consider low cost, high value:  This is your best option and ideal state.