CiviMobile: From modest idea to popular mobile CRM


Global business has practiced a variety of CRM systems we have had in our functional environment recently.

It is no surprise, as the modern world progress cannot be stopped. What is more, it is gaining momentum and keeps afloat mainly by using innovative systems, methodologies and techniques.

CRM is a customer relationship management system, which helps both startups and industrial leaders to optimize their business flow to increase revenue and growth opportunities overall. Customer interaction improvement, profit increase, actionable data storage and delivering are only some business directions CRM can efficiently cover.

In its turn, CiviCRM was developed for nonprofit and civic organizations to let them use the advantages of the CRM solutions with no restrictions and to the fullest. The project has gained popularity among a considerable number of users and has been localized into a dozen different languages (16 at the moment) all over the world.

There was one problem though: CiviCRM exists as a web-based desktop version only that appeared to be sometimes inconvenient and tough for the users, which had to travel a lot or be out of their desk during the day. It lacked flexibility, ease and multifunctionality the mobile version would offer. An increasing number of users, the abundance of information to be kept, a wide array of clients’ contact to handle and so on called for an updated and efficient software solution. What is more, the recent statistics demonstrate that there exist nearly 11000 nonprofit and governmental organizations performing on the CiviCRM daily. This fact makes the issue of a mobile app even more pressing and urgent due to too few of them existing on the market to satisfy the uprising demand.

Thus, the idea of CiviMobile – mobile application for CiviCRM users, was born. It has already recommended itself as being extremely useful and, subsequently, popular in many corners of the world. It has gained and is still gaining popularity due to its mobility, flexibility and constantly improved convenience for the users.

What do people who are constantly on the move need? Mobility. Working with CiviCRM and our CiviMobile application illustrates the issue vividly. We have done profound research into the needs and technical options before developing the application, and, subsequently, were 100% ready to plunge into CiviMobile with access to CiviCRM data creation process.

Due to that fact, we feel it to be our duty to make the product popular and properly estimated among the population. To address the issue maximally effectively and make the article informative, we asked Maryana Cherkes, our CiviCRM expert and consultant in Agiliway, to unveil the essence of the application while providing some information on the history of its development and improvement. What is more, we are going to mention some challenges and advantages our service offers as well as the very organizations using the application most frequently.

So, what is a CiviMobile application all about?

It is the best mobile application for NGOs. Presently, commercial organizations happen to be in the center of attention with most new techniques and systems being oriented at this very business sector, leaving noncommercial nonprofit organizations aside. Our team decided to fill in this niche of the business world with such a badly needed mobility and overall activities monitoring and management.

CiviCRM lacks those functions and turns out to be by no means user-friendly while being presented as a PC or web app only. Fueled by the client’s request to adjust a mobile version of CiviCRM to the members of various social groups, parties and so on, we plunged headlong into the development process. Nothing was so easy, though. In the process of mobile application development, our team met several challenges and complexities to be discussed below.

We decided to create CiviMobile, a handy mobile application for Android and iOS that gives access to CiviCRM data from any cafe, conference, or other places where members of an NGO or political organization are located now. Currently, the application is used all over the world, especially widespread in the USA, Germany, Britain, Australia, France, Netherlands, Canada, Czech Republic, Belgium, Ukraine and others.

What types of organizations is the CiviMobile application best suitable for?

Profit and non-profit organizations

Unlike profitable organizations, where there is a great choice of CRM (money rules the world), the nonprofit market is still short of relevant and efficient software CRM solutions. However, there are many non-profit organizations that have a lot of contacts and, subsequently, must manage them in some way but have no place to store them. They use Excel or Google Spreadsheets, which saves them to some extent.

However, the contacts should be collected, analyzed, and determined whether the person agreed to the mailing list; and if so, what topic is of interest to him. Regarding the surveys conducted by our company, there has also been sorting out by region, field or activity, etc. Accordingly, all these contacts are subject to grouping and sorting, which include a lot of information and personal data.

If a person makes some donations or investments (certain payments for the organization), then this is a separate story. For example, there is a bank with an accounting system and the information needs to be systematized and properly structured. Besides, there is always an expired membership or some other issues. A hundred contacts can be managed in Excel, but when it comes to a thousand and more of them, there is already a need to keep additional workers who will handle the pool of information.

More importantly, the image of the company suffers greatly, if, for instance, to tell a person that he did not contribute while he did, but the information was simply “lost”. Finally, let us mention convenience here as well. NGOs are frequently changing locations for meetings or some other events handling or visiting, so the need for the application to be ‘portable’ has been pressing as well.

Consequently, CiviCRM is a smart solution for this very type of organizations.

Membership management focused sector

CiviCRM is the ideal solution for political parties. There is a hierarchy, central, regional and district committees, contacts with different roles and different access rights, there is a concept of membership, membership fees, etc. Additional modules, such as budgeting, can be added separately. What is more, mass mailing works great for the political parties.

Fundraising oriented organizations

This practice is especially widespread abroad. Several religious organizations are the same non-profit structures with the same principle of membership fees.

The application appears to be perfect for such NGOs as Greenpeace, Red Cross, Amnesty International, etc. They have a lot of contacts to keep in touch with, to inform them about actions and events in the sphere of people, animals, women protection violations, amnesties and their employment, assistance in legal issues and much more. That is, there is a person and there is a database comprising the information about the first contact, living address, his statutes, etc. A pool of info to be kept in one storage.

There exist organizations that specialize in psychological/material support for those in need. For instance, they help people get a job while providing some assistance with resume writing, proper preparation for an interview and so on and so forth.

There are various establishments to help women and single moms. They provide psychological assistance to women after a maternity. These organizations have a base of potential jobs, courses, babysitters, everything and everyone needed to let a young mom start with her new work.

Administrative direction

The organizations that handle certification procedures turn out to be CiviCRM clients as well. For example, in some countries, if you want to train or teach fitness, you apply to an organization that has a base of all fitness trainers and it provides you with all the necessary certifications.

A good number of groups/clubs of yoga, meditation, beer lovers, needlework fans and much more also have their own hierarchy, city divisions, membership fees, a good number of self-organized events and parties. They often use the CRM system for their needs for booking, payment, etc.

Data storage and management field

Finally, the festivals do use CRM to handle a database of musicians, visitors, events along with event management.

It should be noted that some organizations may not even think that they need CRM and how much easier and successful they could become with one.

It is well worth saying that CiviCRM is perfect for sites such as WordPress, Drupal, etc. It serves as a database, and you just pull out everything you need from that database.

P.S. CRM does not have to be paid for. Everyone thinks it is rather expensive. However, in fact, the application is to be customized once only in case there is a specific need for it, and that’s it.

Let us reflect on the period how it used to be

Preparation and Analyses stages

Our final goal was to develop a highly user friendly and informative app while, at the same time, stressing its optimization, facilitation and overall mobility functionalities. That complex and multilateral task called for a profound investigation. On the analyzing completion, we found ourselves on a crossroad: to develop an adaptive web version or to work out two separate native apps for Android and iOS. Nevertheless, a decision to work out a hybrid mobile application with its native UI, which can be easily compiled to Android and iOS was made.

CiviMobile Functionality Revolution: from version1.0 to version 5.0

CiviMobile history started in 2018. One day, it flashed over us to meet the challenge and to satisfy the numerous requests regarding making CRM system convenient for use and maximally functional for nonprofit charity members and organizations.

In May, we managed to release CiviMobile version one, which served to be a ‘testing’ and ‘basic’ one, including only core functions, e.g. contacts, calendar, search options, etc. Being bombed by the users’ request to update and widen the application’s functionality, in several months, the business world met new CiviMobile 2 with considerably improved and enriched interface and options included. Agiliway engineering team never stopped its work on CiviMobile though. Logically, one by one, we output the third and the fourth product versions, surprising our clients with even more mobility, wide scope functionality and easy configuration of the application.

Finally, recently, we succeeded in widening CiviMobile functionality with its 5th version. What is there special and innovative about this very release? The release appeared under a logo “reaching wider audiences”. These are not the words merely; several thousands of app users, as well as hundreds of installations both for the iOS and Android, speak for themselves. Enhanced security, exceptionally user-friendly mode and improved support of the unregistered users characterize the version 5 application.

Reaching wider target audiences through a variety of unauthenticated users comprises the main core stem of the new version of CiviMobile. What is more, further optimization and simplification processes have been persecuted witnessing more automation, various language communities reaching and security improvement (QR code scanner, pin code, and so on).

CiviMobile version 5.0 is worth giving it a try and get assured of its updated functionality. Besides, the app oncoming releases will provide the users of even more extended functionality and updated UI design.

To Conclude: CiviMobile Development Risks and Challenges

To pave the way starting with the CiviMobile version 1.0 to the CiviMobile version 5.0 has been rather complicated and challenging, with a few pitfalls along with ups and downs. The main challenge still concerns the issue that the application connects to the user’s server and is apt to certain human factor risks and mistakes.

Thus, to eliminate the problem, we are struggling to add even more automation and validation during the development process. New decision implementations, proper priorities setting along with a customer needs and demands investigation frequently call for additional finance and human resources inclusion.