How to select your CRM mobile app

CRM enterprise systems are enhanced to include mobile apps. It makes sense, as salespeople and service technicians work a lot outside of office, while strongly relying on your enterprise CRM information. It is easier and cheaper to use an app than to call colleagues or drive back and forth to fetch data.

But how do you select a good CRM mobile app? There are 3 options:
Default mobile app

#1. Default mobile app by your CRM vendor

Every enterprise CRM vendor offers a basic CRM mobile app. It is part of your existing CRM, ready to use whenever you need it.

What is good about it?

Same logic as core app. Mobile and core CRM share the business logic and data access rules; offline syncs work out of the box.

Easy to configure. Your CRM developers can adjust its default screens to fit your business requirements. The process is much like configuring your core application. It can take from a few days to a few months to get the app to users, depending on what you want the app to do.

What might concern you?

Not designed to access several systems. CRM vendor's mobile apps can bring value when your user only needs access to one system - your vendor's CRM. They are not designed to access and edit data in several internal systems and cloud services.

Limited UX and performance. Out-of-the-box CRM mobile apps feel like browser versions of the core app. Navigation flows or components are rarely optimized for mobile. Offline performance is limited, too.

User adoption can be low. Out-of-the-box CRM app only brings value if it solves users' needs. If it doesn't, you face enterprise app adoption issues, as employees avoid using the app.

How to decide?

1. Run a Proof-of-Concept (PoC). Nothing is more reliable than first-hand data. Run a PoC with your CRM vendor's mobile app. Gather users’ feedback, paying particular attention to which needs were and weren’t met. Ask your developers how the implementation went, confirm what it would take to meet users' needs. Use this information to decide how to proceed.

2. Review what you need. If you can adjust the app to meet users’ needs without substantial effort, use the app by your CRM vendor. If there is a significant gap between what CRM vendor's app offers and what users need, consider specialized CRM mobile apps.
Specialized CRM

#2. Specialized CRM mobile apps

Several companies try to capitalize on usability issues with CRM vendors' mobile applications. primary focuses on and Microsoft Dynamics integration. works mainly with Oracle CX products.

What is good about it?

UX and functions built for mobile users. Specialized CRM applications are mobile-first. Their standard navigation flows are seamless, built around users' common interaction expectations. They offer fancy features like voice-recording meeting notes, route planning, handy wizards to mark the next actions right after a call, business card or barcode scanning, internal team chat and more.

Fast to configure. You will get configuration tools to extend the UI and create extra mapping to your CRM system. It takes from a few days to a few weeks to get the app to users, depending on how customized your CRM is.

Built-in mobile device and application management. Specialized CRM mobile apps usually include essential security and user management functionality. No need for additional Mobile Device Management and Mobile Applications Management platforms.

What might concern you?

Added complexity in your CRM ecosystem. Your developers or administrators must learn how to configure these proprietary apps. With every new third-party element, your CRM ecosystem becomes harder to develop and maintain.

Limited customization. You cannot implement certain custom interactions or use specialized mobile controls. The UI and business logic follow standard pre-built design patterns. Beyond that, there is little room for custom coding.

Access to several systems is extra work. Accessing other internal systems in addition to your CRM is challenging, but possible.

Security concerns. Your customers’ data flows through third-party platforms and servers that you cannot control. If you have rigorous security standards, it may not be possible to meet them.

How to decide?

1. Check your security requirements. Is your organization OK with a third-party proprietary app and data flowing through third-party servers? If not, proceed to the next chapter about building custom CRM mobile apps.

2. Compare value with your default CRM app. Sign up for a free trial and run a PoC with a specialized mobile app. Does your organization get more value from a specialized vendor app versus your default CRM app? If you don't, stick to the latter.

3. Compare value with custom mobile app. How many users will you have? Will it cost you more to build your own custom mobile app or to pay a user-based subscription fee for the next 3-5 years? If coding from scratch is too costly, you stop here and go for the specialized CRM mobile apps.
Custom CRM

#3. Custom CRM mobile app

Mobile employees don't use apps when either functionality or user experience is off. Custom app lets you choose the exact technology and functionality that fulfils your company's and users' needs.

What is good about it?

You can build what you want. Native or hybrid, if and what backend service to use, how to integrate with CRM and other systems - you decide it all. Your employees can execute any task in your custom app because you can always adjust the code.

The most intuitive UX. If you add UX specialists to your team, custom mobile app will shine. You can build the app around each user's unique needs and mental models. UI experts can polish each part until your users experience consistent positive emotions.

What might concern you?

You are responsible for everything. You manage users' devices and make sure they are not compromised. You secure app's data connection to internal enterprise systems and cloud applications. With great flexibility comes great responsibility.

Additional app to build and support. Most likely your app won't be built by the same developers who maintain your CRM system. Unless you already have mobile development skills in your company, you will have to involve a new team. You will also need to design, build, integrate and maintain the app once it’s released.

You may need to adjust the core CRM application. Custom mobile app will implement use cases to support more efficient business processes while meeting users’ needs. You can rarely do that without making changes to the core CRM application. You and your CRM developers should be okay with that.

How to decide?

1. Consider short-term costs vs benefits. Custom apps cost more to set up than default and specialized CRM apps. However, the productivity gains often offset the cost, especially if you have many mobile employees. Doesn't sound like you? Consider if default or specialized CRM apps are a better fit.

2. See if enterprise mobility is strategic for you. The app may not make sense in a 1-year window, but the extra business benefits and increased morale of field employees may set you in a position to grow over the next 5 years. If that sounds like you, go for a custom mobile application.

A good mobile CRM app can boost your employees' productivity outside of office. Your enterprise systems will receive better field data faster. Your customer experience and staff collaboration will improve.
Sounds good, but need more details? Use this guide as a practical tool for building the right app in the right way.

What’s inside:
  • 5-min test: What are your chances to succeed?
  • 8 worksheets: How to make the app your users will love?
  • 5-min list: How to stay ahead of the game?

You can build a great enterprise mobile app. Start here:

Get our step-by-step Mobile Guide
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