Open source CRM is a group of software products that provides business users with the tools required to manage their customers. Customer relationship management (CRM) software has experienced a huge increase in demand as more companies begin to understand the increased efficiency available with this tool. Open source software is developed through a collaborative effort. The difference between open source and commercial software is the ability to access the source code.
The open source movement has experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years and is forecast to continue to expand for the next 10 to 20 years. The primary benefit of open source code is the ability for programmers and developers to either modify the existing code to meet specific needs or to create new software products that access the primary program. This is much easier to do when the code is provided, increasing the quality and effectiveness of the program.
Initially, many firms stayed away from open source CRM products due to a concern about product quality, security, and sustainability. However, these issues have been addressed through a combination of changes to product standards and the need for firms to remain competitive. Open source CRM products are not free, but are often available at a significantly lower cost than commercial software, due to the differences in licensing agreements.
When looking for an open source CRM product, take care to objectively review the different product features. The best method of doing this is to create a list of all the features you must have and another list of all the features you would like to have. For example, a large firm with a call center will want users to be able to click on the customer telephone number and place the telephone call, which is routed through the user’s headset and tracked in the software. Other firms may need to be able to store detailed sales history to work with their clients best.
Think about installation assistance and long-term support. Look at the language the program is written in and find out which operating systems it is designed to work with. Investigate the cost of local expertise with this language and compare these costs with other software products. Most of the cost associated with implementing any system is consulting services. If the skill set is hard to find, the costs will be much higher than for programs widely supported and known.