Got me CRM! About types of refinement

    In the advertising materials of CRM vendors, one can find words about “finalizing the system to the needs of your business”, “individual approach” and “absolute customization”. I think no one will deny that every business is unique, especially business owners, who are assured of assurances of customizability and customization of systems to the requirements of the company, will not deny this. However, in addition to the truth about the possibilities of refinement and adaptation to a specific set of business requirements, the vendor’s promises hide significant costs, the amount of which may exceed the cost of acquired licenses. Let's try to figure out what types of “finished” CRMs exist and is it always important that the suit is sitting.

    First of all, consider the vendor’s motives that motivate him to create SDK (software development kit) and so-called platforms.

    • Partnership scheme development. Providing partners with tools for developing / finalizing their CRM system, the vendor is an excellent opportunity for the growth of their regional networks and the distribution of the software they supply. Partners, in turn, can earn money on improvements and personalization of the system. A striking example of such a platform expansion is 1C, which built a colossal franchisee network due to the platform for creating individual configurations.

    • Development of your system. Companies open the SDK and / or API so that technology partners create plug-ins, widgets, integrations and connectors for the main system. Partners place their developments in marketplaces, where they are available to users for free or for free. Thus, the client receives relevant opportunities, the partner receives money, and the vendor saves users who could leave without finding the necessary functionality. This scheme is also attractive for foreign companies entering the Russian market - they are not invested in development related to adapting software to local requirements (for example, Microsoft Dynamics CRM uses connectors created by partners for integration with 1C).

    • The ability to independently modify the system by the vendor according to the needs of the user. By creating a platform, the developer receives a tool for quick customization and the creation of custom software. This is convenient, especially to him. Also, the platform can be used by clients with a professional programmer on staff.

    • Formation of an expert community around the system. As a rule, large systems release community versions (open source), which are distributed under a free license (for example, GNU AGPL). The fee is for consulting and technical support. In addition, a strong community is a great marketing tool.

    In addition to these motives, there are several more - they are individual for each developer company and may depend on various factors, including expansion into new markets, development of industry solutions, and so on.

    Consider the main types of refinement of CRM by group and try to determine which business is suitable for this or that option.

    Open source CRM

    Sugar CRM

    The most famous open source CRM is Sugar CRM. It is developed and finalized in the PHP language. Typical configuration SugarCRM uses MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition as a DBMS; commercial versions can use Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Oracle. The system delivery kit includes a module for visual development (Studio). With it, a user who is not familiar with programming can create new modules and make changes to the old ones. For SugarCRM, through direct access to the database or developing custom PHP code, an integration scheme of almost any complexity can be created.

    One Sugar CRM license costs from $ 40 per month per user. Licenses are divided into three types: Comunity Edition - a full-featured free version and paid versions of Professional and Enterprise (needed by those who choose Oracle). Developers can create add-ons for Sugar CRM (add-ons) and place them on Sugarexchange . For Russian-speaking developers, the Sugartalk community is supported . The Open Source version is licensed under the GNU AGPL and is available for download at Sourceforge . After installation on the client’s server, the developer can make any changes to the code, customizing the system for himself.

    The GNU GPL license implies that the user receives the right to copy, modify and distribute (including on a commercial basis) programs, as well as to ensure that users of all derivative programs will receive the above rights. That is, when creating a new CRM based on Sugar CRM, you must open the code and give users the same rights. Therefore, many developers from around the world create their versions of programs based on the open-source Sugar fork (fork - from the English fork). One of the popular CRMs, sometimes outstripping in popularity on Sourceforge Sugar, is vTiger CRM.

    vTiger CRM

    vTiger CRM has an open version and paid versions. Technical support for users depending on the package costs from 10 to 30 $ per user per month. Like other systems, vTiger has a marketplace that contains sets of plug-ins and connectors, for example, with Asterisk or Microsoft Exchange.

    There are several Russian vTiger forks (e.g. Optima CRM ). They contain industry versions, are promoted for free of their systems, but often require improvements. Moreover, upon closer inspection, the same Optima is not free, and free appears only after ordering improvements for 250 000 rubles.

    The advantages of such solutions:

    • Open source - the ability to modify the system, create forks, adapt to any business logic.
    • Versatility and portability, low dependence on the configuration of iron (not always).
    • Modularity - with proper qualifications, you can assemble any corporate system.
    • High customization.
    • Huge community (developer community).

    The disadvantages of such solutions:

    • High salary of qualified programmers with appropriate skills.
    • Serious restrictions on users in paid versions (there are a minimum of places to buy).
    • High overhead for implementation and custom deployment.
    • Problems with localization (translation) - if through Language Pack you can Russify the interface and admin panels, then the dictionaries of the system itself need to be re-started.
    • Systems and their forks often do not take into account national standards of primary documentation, warehouse management, office work, etc.
    • Weak analytic modules in the main supply - you need to buy or add solutions for business analytics.

    Paid CRM Systems with Platforms and SDKs

    This group of CRM systems is a system with paid licenses and closed source code. However, if necessary, they provide development platforms and SDKs for customers, as well as carry out improvements on their own using the tools listed. The pioneer of CRM-building (as well as the pioneer in many aspects of CRM development) is the largest system in the world.

    Salesforce CRM (

    Salesforce is delivered to customers only under the SaaS model. The company also created a whole group of development tools: for example, under the name, the company provides a PaaS platform for independent application development, and under the brand ( - a cloud-based database management system.

    App Cloud is the software platform on which Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are developed, which is provided to subscribers for self-development of applications and extensions for the CRM system.

    For development, we use our own Java-like language Apex and our own Visualforce design tool with an XML-based output format, which generates custom HTML / AJAX and Flex interfaces. The platform is provided exclusively by subscription, as part of the PaaS concept. Depending on the subscription level, various technical and support options are available. Subscribers can place the developed applications on the platform in a special directory - AppExchange, including for money.
    Cloud DBMS,, can be used both for applications and for its projects that are not related to the system. There is a cool solution for interface design - Lightning Components, which allows you to quickly create interfaces and logic of web applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Depending on the tariff, the possibilities for improvement are limited by the number of tables per user, access, etc.

    Salesforce is a rather expensive system, if you decide to implement it, it is worth calculating the potential costs of completion services or the salary of a qualified programmer. However, this is not the only solution; there are Russian solutions, moreover, more adapted to our reporting and integrations with accounting systems.

    Terrasoft CRM (bpm'online)

    Terrasoft offers its customers two types of platforms : Terrasoft 3.X for developing desktop applications (business old-timers will probably remember the old Terrasoft desktop solution) and bpm'online for developing web applications.

    Terrasoft 3.X allows you to create modules and configurations for the Terrasoft desktop application, change functionality. IDE Terrasoft 3.X includes visual development tools and a designer of database queries, a designer of windows, reports and so on. All configuration items are stored on the DBMS side, only the changed part of the meta data is downloaded to the user. Applications can be deployed under DBMS MS SQL Server, Oracle or Firebird, SSL is supported for web services. With Tearrasoft 3.X, you can build integrations with third-party applications.

    bpm'online is an IDE for creating and configuring application systems on the bpm'online platform. Using this IDE, web applications are created that work on the user side through a browser. Applications are hosted in the cloud (the application is deployed in a data center), HTML, AJAX, Silverlight and the .Net programming language are used for development. Business processes are built in a visual graphics editor based on BPMN notation, and the user is not required to have programming knowledge. The bpm'online platform allows you to quickly create drag-and-drop user interfaces, that is, setting up and creating applications is simple, the system automatically generates a user interface. If the application is supposed to be deployed on-site, then you need to use the MS SQL Server or Oracle DBMS. bpm '

    Terrasoft is one of the most expensive Russian CRM systems, and the platform is available only to those who have already purchased licenses. However, the advantage of Terrasoft is the ease of use of the platform, in particular bpm'online for creating web applications.

    Client Communicator (Click CRM)

    The system is much cheaper than Terrasoft, although it is more outdated both in terms of interface and purely in design. However, this is one of the first Russian CRMs to offer a platform for finalizing and deeply customizing applications. In addition, a crude, but rather functional web-version of the system for lovers of working in a browser has recently appeared.

    To finalize the web version of Clickuses a form designer that allows you to create solutions from simple tables associated with the system database to web applications. Users of both configurations for Windows and web operate in a single on-line database. In principle, the solution is very good and requires fairly standard knowledge (you won’t have to overpay for the unique skills of the hired specialist), but it’s inert in terms of the technologies used.

    The first nuisance that awaits the customer is the need to purchase MS SQL Server 2008 Standard, Developer or Enterprise, if you need more than 15 seats and the database size exceeds 10 GB. As you know, these are paid DBMSs and they significantly increase the cost of the implementation project.
    The second feature, of course, is not a nuisance, but an inconvenient thing for many modern developers - the entire platform is focused on Microsoft tools. To work with the platform, you must first deploy the Microsoft .NET Framework, and then deploy IIS.

    Integration with WEB is created using ASP.NET technology. The site vendor claims that this technology due to the presence of an expandable set of controls allows you to quickly develop new components (types of charts, indicators, etc.). When building interactive web-interfaces, AJAX technology is used, which changes part of the data without reloading the page completely.
    However, it is obvious that in the case of working with Linux-like operating systems, to use the platform you will have to work hard with Mono and Nginx, and this is a waste of time and additional requirements for staff qualifications.

    To refine Click, the configurator uses a scripting platform using the Jscript or VBScript programming language (optional). Using the platform, you can program the Click interface, work with the database, design form components, write scripts, etc. The interface is customizable in the interface designer.

    ClicK is good in that it provides the widest possibilities of customization and at the same time requires the user to own standard skills. Among the shortcomings are fixation on Microsoft technologies, the use of expensive, heavy and capricious MS SQL DBMS, outdated interface elements and the incomplete web version. In general, the very case when you have to work hard with a “file”.

    For those who are too lazy or who do not have the opportunity to refine, the development / refinement of the system by means of KliK costs 2500 rubles per hour. With an 8-hour working day and 21 days in a month, it is 420,000 rubles. per month. Therefore, before implementation it is necessary to plan the completion and evaluate the total cost of the implementation project.

    Well, somehow it would be completely shameless not to mention Microsoft Dynamics CRM in this section of the post, offering partners an excellent set of development tools with which to create applications, forms, connectors and so on. In addition, a separate SDK for mobile development for iOS and Android is provided for this CRM.

    The advantages of such solutions:

    • Modularity and customization.
    • A combination of turnkey solutions and good development platforms.
    • A set of numerous industry solutions.
    • Convenience and benefits for partners.
    • The simplicity of the refinement tools.
    • Not the highest salary expectations of programmers (exception - Salesforce).

    The disadvantages of such solutions:

    • The cost of refinement by the vendor.
    • Deficiencies in the platforms themselves, insufficient set of features in the basic delivery.
    • Very often - attachment to technology, system requirements and dependence on the configuration of iron.

    Strong standard delivery, finalization by the vendor

    This is no less interesting group of CRM systems than the previous ones. They are distinguished by an accumulated set of capabilities that embodies the entire experience of the vendor, that is, the system contains carefully developed modules and module entities. As a rule, these systems include several editions in order to differentiate the scope of the supplied functionality and save the client from unnecessary functions that do not meet his requirements. They provide standard designers of interfaces and reports for minimal customization of the system and carry out customization / development of the system for a specific client.

    RegionSoft CRM

    Perhaps one of the best CRM systems in this class. In addition to the typical classic CRM, RegionSoft supplies several industry solutions (for retail, restaurants, television and radio holdings, GPS monitoring). Editions of the classic desktop CRM-system include a variety of included modules. Industry systems are specialized products with deeply redesigned business logic, and not just renamed card fields. In general, the company is quite closed from external agents, but it is known that industry systems just grew out of integration projects, that is, they were actually developed in the "field" conditions, therefore they take into account many business requirements.

    Separate editionsRegionSoft CRM is designed for various sizes of business: from a simple sales department to holdings with a warehouse and production. This approach is precisely due to the lack of an open development platform for external programmers. This is not yet a modular solution (as I see it, it would be an ideal solution for a CRM provider), but a concept quite close to it. All integrations (with Asterisk PBX, 1C, own SIP-background) are included in the delivery of the corresponding editions.

    The highlight of RegionSoft CRM is the developed mechanisms for automating sales stages, business processes and KPI (key metrics management), as well as advanced warehouse accounting with production management, requests to suppliers, logistics and even the ability to automate retail stores and restaurants (additional front-office modules RegionSoft Retail and RegionSoft Barman integrates closely with RegionSoft CRM, which in this case acts as a back office).

    Inside the system it is possible to customize the user interface, create custom fields and reports using the report designer Fast Report, business processes using a visual graphical editor. Starting with RegionSoft CRM Professional, a configurator is included in the system. Using the configurator it is possible to gain access to all sections of the database, execute SQL queries and process them, and create additional database and interface objects. The report designer allows you to create new (custom) reports, as well as modify typical system reports and connect them to the program interface. Using the script engine of the configurator, it is possible to organize the integration of RegionSoft CRM with third-party products, both at the level of COM connections, and by uploading and downloading data in XML format.

    Vendor RegionSoft CRM has developed an additional application - the RegionSoft Application Server with a built-in http-server. This is a separately supplied tool that allows you to automate various tasks (such as automatic unloading of data in 1C according to a schedule, background backups of the database), integrate CRM with a personal account on a website or online store, analyze and process data, send e-mail and sms, write scripts based on open source scripts in one of the languages: PascalScript, C ++ Script, JScript, BasicScript.

    It is also possible to order the development of an individual corporate system or refinement of the current version of CRM. As shown by reconnaissance in battle, the project price is set by agreement, and the price of an hour of completion is 1,500 rubles, which is 252,000 rubles. in a conditional working month.

    Among the shortcomings, some redundancy of functionality can be noted even in the most “lite” version. But RegionSoft has almost the most democratic system requirements among desktop CRMs - neither the system itself nor the configurator require the expensive MS SQL Server, but work on the open source, fast and well-established Firebird DBMS.

    ASoft CRM

    ASoft CRM is another experienced player in the market of turnkey solutions and custom development. The company creates solutions for workflow, logistics, CRM, project management systems and industry solutions. Decisions are diversified depending on the type of company, the method of organizing warehouse accounting, and the need for software rental. Industry versions are also highly specific: banks, real estate, logistics companies. These CRMs are also based on rethinking business logic, rather than simply changing forms.

    In addition to industry solutions, the company creates information systems to meet the requirements of specific customers. The development is based on the StellArt / EFFI platform used by ASoft- a complex single platform. The EFFI environment was created by the company to create C ++ applications. The platform can be used as a full-fledged IDE and as a set of libraries and library packages for isolated use. Application software on the EFFI platform uses the classic three-layer logic: data storage layer, data processing layer, data presentation layer. For a web application, the JavaScript programming language and AJAX technology are used. At the moment, plugins that support the SOAP, HTTP, SMTP / POP protocols, and the internal EFFI protocol are developed.

    The EFFI system also gives ample opportunities for integration and provides work with an online store (it must be written in PHP), interaction with other web services. The IDE also includes libraries for integration with PBXs, including AVAYA and Asterisk, supports LDAP protocol and allows authorization and authentication through Active Directory. EFFI is a cross-platform development environment. EFFI applications can be compiled under the operating systems Windows, Linux and MacOS.

    In general, ASoft owns, indeed, a serious development tool, on the basis of which it is possible to create applications for commercial use. The cost of projects is formed upon request.


    ELMA CRM is also a strong player in the market for turnkey corporate information systems. ELMA is more focused on business processes: the classic CRM as well as document and project management are based on the ELMA BPM platform. In addition, the vendor provides a large number of industry solutions, each of which is based on business logic and, importantly, industry risks. The system aims to minimize each of the potential risks.

    ELMA has taken the biggest step towards modularity: in the ELMA Store sectionYou can assemble your own set of modules, ready-made business processes and solutions, initially customizing your system. The proposed components help deploy automation quickly enough. But you need to consider that these are still unified schemes and something may not be suitable for your business. Alas, in the case of business processes, inattention to trifles can turn into big problems: having bought a ready-made component, you have to seriously rework it or rebuild your tasks and processes under the resulting template. This can result in both tangible expenses and unpleasant sabotage of personnel.

    The built-in designer of the ELMA system is quite good in terms of usability and allows you to independently build business processes in accordance with BPMN 2.0 notation. Moreover, the notation features and the logic of the Designer allow even non-advanced users to work.
    ELMA also offers custom development and refinement based on the main system in accordance with the terms of reference. The price of the project is discussed individually.

    Alas, ELMA requires MS SQL Server to work, which, again, greatly increases the cost of any implementation project. Moreover, there is a disclaimer on the site that MS SQL Server Enterprise allows you to provide the maximum level of performance and scalability of the application (the price is about 180 000 rubles).

    The advantages of such solutions:

    • Initially strong basic delivery functionality.
    • Regular releases, constant improvements and extensions, fairly large-scale updates.
    • Presence of industry solutions with redesigned business logic.
    • Ready-made and often included in the supply integration solutions (PBX, telephony, 1C).
    • There are no restrictions on the choice of telephony provider.
    • Quick completion by the vendor’s staff, professional approach.
    • Easy customization at the advanced user level.
    • The cost of ownership and implementation is one of the lowest in the market due to "threading".

    The disadvantages of such solutions:

    • Rigidity - major changes take time and money.
    • Sometimes the limitations associated with system requirements (OS, database server).
    • Low level of self-customization.
    • Redundant functionality as standard.
    • Virtually no community, closed development.

    Cloud CRM with API

    Needless to say, cloud systems have captured the market. Despite a number of shortcomings, they are popular due to the convenience of payment, the speed of implementation, scalability and a modern interface. For a long time, a serious claim was made to the CRM of this class - the complexity of the revision. Indeed, most cloud vendors prefer to download and install their product “as is,” adding as many fields and clusters of fields as possible. However, the accusation of inflexibility was too weighty to continue to be ignored.

    Therefore, most well-known vendors have created an API (application programming interface) for their systems. An API is a set of off-the-shelf components (classes, functions, constants, etc.) that can be used in external products. The API allows you to create applications that are easily integrated with the main program. That is, again the same widgets, connectors and applications for the "completion" of CRM, which partners use to generate income, and customers - for their own needs.

    A brief look at the API and features of the most popular systems.


    amo API . Work with the API is in the PHP language. All communication with the API is encrypted over SSL. This means that all API links must contain the HTTPS protocol. It is especially important to remember this when accessing through JS, if access to third-party resources is initiated. Inside the system, the user is always in a secure connection and an attempt to access HTTP will be blocked or the user's browser will give him a warning.

    Third-party developers can create widgets for amoCRM both in pure JavaScript and using PHP libraries. Widgets in amoCRM can display application data in CRM interfaces, connect JS scripts, and so on. AmoCRM add-ons can also be in the widget catalog. However, when using third-party widgets, the user should not forget that the relationship moves in three planes: amo, the cloud hoster and the widget owner. This may require additional costs and more attention to system security and potential vulnerabilities.
    Even in amoCRM, you can configure notifications that will notify third-party applications about events that occurred in CRM. For notifications, rules are created by which they are processed (for example, when you save an order in an online store, a contact in CRM is automatically made).

    FreshOffice CRM

    The FreshOffice API is designed to exchange data between FreshOffice application databases and external clients. Access to the API is via the Open Data Protocol. OData is a standardized protocol specifically designed for use in API systems. By the way, FreshOffice APIs are developed using the convenient apiary service, which allows you to create a well-readable API in a matter of hours (well, or, as the main page of the service states, in 30 minutes). Subjectively, this is the weakest API of these systems - the feeling that it was created in order to "suddenly what, but it was." I think this is partly due to the initially good set of features of the system. Which, however, FreshOffice does not justify.


    In Bitriks24 contrast, the API-researched, designed as a separate document with a good navigation. The Bitrix24 API allows you to create applications and plugins for company goals or placement in a marketplace. Each new third-party application is a new client in oAuth 2.0 with its own set of security keys and a list of permissions for this application (it can view tasks, CRM, etc.). Created applications and connectors can be placed in the marketplace, where they will be available to other users for free or for free.

    For the cloud version of Bitrix24, the PHP REST API is used, and for the boxed version, the API called the Bitrix Framework- A technology platform for managing websites and corporate portals. This, of course, is not a tool for full completion, but it provides good opportunities for organizing the portal and its administration (LDAP, telephony, etc.)

    By the way, Bitrix24 has a rather strong community and a good help forum. Which, however, is not surprising for such an experienced player. However, despite the many advantages, Bitrix24 has one global drawback, which often leads to tremendous improvements and higher cost of the implementation project. Bitrix24 is not a CRM. The CRM module built into the corporate portal is not enough for many specific business tasks, ranging from full-fledged mailings to warehouse management. When choosing a vendor, this must be remembered.

    The advantages of such solutions:

    • Low threshold of entry into refinement both in terms of skills and the complexity of the platform.
    • Ample opportunities to work with the API, flexibility.
    • Sets of ready-made applications, plug-ins and connectors.
    • The ability to capitalize on creating applications and placing them in marketplaces.
    • Developed community.

    The disadvantages of such solutions:

    • Limited functionality, often reworking more and more expensive than the original delivery.
    • Dependence on a third party - the widget or application developer.
    • Long debugging compatibility.
    • Possible security issues.

    There is another way to create CRM, the most suitable company, - write it yourself, "on the knee." But this is also an expensive, lengthy and time-consuming project, which also requires incredible skill in collecting and processing business requirements. As a rule, this method is suitable only for very specific companies that have special industry requirements. And then, in my opinion, it is better to entrust the development of an experienced company according to the agreed technical specifications: firstly, it’s faster, secondly, the developer is responsible for the created software, and thirdly, he will not quit and will not take the code with him.

    A crisis and a small lull in business is the best time to buy and deploy CRM. Awareness of their exclusivity and the desire to have CRM “exactly in size” is a great corporate temptation. Before you get involved in the complex process of implementing “custom-made”, decide on business requirements, talk with several vendors, try to understand how much you need this or that refinement and how urgent it is. A well-thought-out, systematic approach and minimal preparation for implementation can save money, time, nerves. They, as you know, are not superfluous.

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