These days, customer satisfaction (CSAT) is essential to operating a successful business. Effectively managing customer relationships throughout the entire sales cycle and beyond is fundamental to ensuring the longevity of your company. Thankfully, there’s a branch of enterprise software to help companies get the most out of their customer communications and sales efforts. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems help businesses manage customer interactions, maintain customer and prospect contact information, identify sales opportunities, create marketing campaigns, and so much more. CRM systems represent a better way to manage all customer interactions and relationships to drive success.
Like most enterprise software, a bevy of proprietary solutions exist. You’ve likely heard the big names like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. These companies hold a huge share of the market and offer excellent out-of-the-box software to get you up and running without the need for heavy lifting in the way of development or integrations. But while these solutions are easy to implement and come with robust feature sets, they can be pricey and offer more features than your business really needs. There’s no sense in paying a pretty penny for functionality that you have no use for, right?
For companies looking for a less expensive or more customizable solution, open source CRM software exists. Like its proprietary counterparts, open source CRM software provides excellent customer management functionality to help your company foster leads, drive sales, and grow business. But, due to their source code being free and widely available, open source solutions are extremely cost-effective and customizable, helping you get the features you need to manage customer relationships your way.
What is open source?
Opensource.com defines open source software as “software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.” Unlike proprietary software, open source software’s code can be accessed and manipulated by anyone with the time and technical expertise. Often, open source solutions are well-realized and qualified, so all companies need to do is take existing code and tweak it to suit their specific needs. Plus, open source software benefits from a worldwide network of developers constantly working to innovate and share new features and capabilities with the larger community of users. Companies willing to invest the time and effort into open source software frequently reap the rewards of an inexpensive, highly-customized solution.
Benefits and drawbacks of an open source CRM
Open source CRM solutions are ideal for businesses looking for flexibility and scalability. These solutions often include more opportunities for integrations, and you’re free to construct your own without worrying about the limitations of a proprietary vendor. Price is also a major factor. Open source solutions are free more often than not, and if there is a cost of ownership, it’s manageable compared to proprietary software. With open source software, you’re not locked into any intense subscription commitments, so you won’t incur any costs if you choose to go in another direction. Simply put, open source CRM solutions offer an affordable, customizable alternative to costly, out-of-the-box solutions.
While the open source approach can result in superior software for a fraction of the cost of a proprietary solution, it’s not for everyone. It may be free to get your hands on a basic version of an open source CRM, you could be looking at serious developer hours to calibrate it for your specific needs. Also, implementation can be a headache. For the most part, you’re ready to roll with proprietary software after an initial setup phase. Often, proprietary CRM providers will even allot a team of dedicated internal experts to help get you up to speed. With an open source solution, you’re mostly going to be on your own and could be looking at an uphill battle just to get your CRM working properly.
If your business chooses to go the open source route, it’s important to assess the developer communities of each solution you are considering. An experienced, active community of developers is essential to the long-term health of your open source CRM as this community is your source for updates, bug fixes, and new features.
The 5 best open source CRM tools
SuiteCRM is a powerful alternative to traditional, proprietary CRMs. With an extensive module base to handle everything from leads and contacts to contracts and invoices, it’s no wonder millions of users trust SuiteCRM for their customer relationship management needs. Plus, its SuiteASSURED instance offers the first assurance program for an open source CRM, combining the security of a proprietary solution with the freedom and flexibility of open source.
EspoCRM’s automation capabilities are its bread and butter. With advanced workflow management tools, sales and marketing automation is a breeze. You can easily track leads and opportunities and ensure contacts are up-to-date. On the marketing side, you can customize email templates, create target account lists, and fully automate strategic email campaigns, saving your team valuable time and effort.
A simple and intelligent platform with the feature set to go toe to toe with Salesforce, openCRX is an impressive open source offering. Built for easy integration with other enterprise applications, openCRX offers both a Java API for Java-based clients and a Swagger-compliant RESTful API. It also boasts an impressive set of adapters to easily integrate with contacts, calendars, documents, and email.
While the Odoo CRM is impressive in its own right, its full integration with a massive set of noteworthy Odoo apps is where it really shines. This open source CRM can work seamlessly with apps for email automation, invoicing, point of sale (POS), inventory management, and more. With Odoo, you get access to a full suite of enterprise-ready applications built to scale.
Named one of the top affordable CRM solutions by Capterra in 2017, YetiForce gives you a lot of bang for your buck. With numerous intelligent modules and a sizable community of developers, YetiForce offers extensive customization options. If flexibility is what you’re looking for, YetiFoce delivers.
Is an open source CRM solution right for your business?
Considering a CRM solution for your startup business? Or looking to make the switch to a solution that’s more aligned with your company’s unique needs and goals? Open source offers a wealth of great CRM software that competes with the strongest proprietary offerings. If you’re willing to invest the time, money, and effort, you can get a powerful, affordable solution that will drive the long-term success of your business.
At Codal, we know a thing or two about successful CRM solutions. Whether it’s proprietary or open source, Codal can advise on a solution that effectively tracks, manages, and serves your customers, and integrates easily with the rest of your enterprise tech stack. Talk to Codal today.