CRM has come a tremendously long way from its roots as ugly, proprietary mainframe or office software in stock rooms and customer service cubicles, hasn’t it? Not only has it become a serious, heavily-populated niche in SaaS, but it’s also become remarkably powerful and so much more than what it used to be. Now, it’s the backbone of your business. It happened without you even noticing, didn’t it? But, CRM tends to be expensive, so are there any good open source CRM software solutions out there?
Well, if “good” hadn’t been in the question, I would have answered “Yes, there are many”. But, as it stands, the answer is “There is a really good one, a few average ones, and a slew of horrible ones that nobody uses”.
Defining Open Source:
Sometimes, things claim to be open source when they aren’t completely so. Zoho, for instance, occasionally alludes to itself as an open-source ready set of designs, but they in fact really aren’t.
An open source design is one where not only is the code visible to the public, but in which they are legally entitled to modify it, build the modifications, and to distribute them (usually only under free licenses or donationware licenses).
The Benefits of Open Source:
Open source is beneficial for the fact that developing tools for it is easier, with its innards all nice and laid out to be seen. It’s also easier to fix intrinsic bugs or bugs it has with your particular server or other device.
It’s literally limitless in branding and customization, and in features that can be added. This is more expensive and time intensive than just installing apps on other non-open-source CRM solutions, though.
Often, they’re a bit barebones, and yeah, you have to know programming or have a team who does, in order to get the true benefits above from it.
The Ones that Make the Cut:
#1 – Sugar CRM
Sugar CRM is the most popular, and has probably seen the most modification and diversification of custom builds since CRM got its big windfall in the wake of SaaS proliferation.
It supports basic CRM functionality, and its infrastructure already understands user-defined forms, reports and other objects, so there’s no need to implement that to keep up with the likes of Salesforce or Netsuite. It’s got a huge community, so there’s lots of support both in use and modification, so you’ll probably get the most out of this one at the fastest speed.
#2 – Zurmo
Zurmo is unique and honestly, its open source-ness means nothing at all to me, because you don’t need to be tinkering with the internal parts of this, if this is what you choose to go with.
It’s built around gamification incentives and engagement solutions, making it the first CRM that I or my colleagues know of that’s built entirely around the concept, rather than achieving it with an app or extension.
Sadly, there aren’t a lot of reviews from reliable sources, so how well it actually handles this gamified CRM concept … the jury’s still out on that for now. By all rights, it sounds capable.
#3 – Vtiger
Vtiger is pretty much the Netsuite to Sugar’s Salesforce and I mean that literally. As soon as Sugar CRM took off as a solid and respected CRM solution, this one quickly took off, following similar steps and mindsets for success.
A big benefit this one has, though, along with tens of thousands of people in its community, is it not only is open, but it has an add on system too.
So, these are the three best open source CRM software solutions. There are others, in fact Sourceforge is quite loaded with them. But most of them are more proofs of concept than viable business solutions.
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of CRMSimplified Blog. Michael established the CRM blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to CRM.