What is Open Source CRM?
The term open-source software has been thrown around for years, but many people are unsure what it actually means.
For the consumer market, open-source software has become a great alternative to licensed software, since it is available at no cost. Free software that isn’t open source usually has dramatically limited features, whereas open-source software is both full featured and free.
The biggest downfall for businesses choosing open-source software is that a level of expertise is needed to adapt it to a business' needs.
Licensed software will usually walk users through the setup and configuration process. Open-source software doesn’t provide that step-by-step setup, which means someone with technical expertise will need to both install and configure it.
Compare open source CRM providers at Expert Market.
Benefits of Open-Source CRM
The biggest benefit to open-source CRM is that it is free. For businesses interested in keeping costs low, this benefit is a big selling point. Because of its build, open-source CRM comes with no commitment or contracts, so businesses can try it out for a while with no penalties if they decide it isn’t the right option for them.
Read more: CRM Price Comparison
For businesses with specific needs, the customizability of open-source software is a huge selling point. Whether they handle the customization in house or outsource the work to a technology provider, they can truly make the CRM their own.
Preconfigured Open Source
While open-source CRM’s usability factor is a drawback for many businesses, it’s important to note that there is an alternative. Many open-source providers offer a basic version that has easy setup and technical support built in. Businesses will pay an extra fee for that feature, but it will still be less expensive than a commercially-licensed product.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to open-source CRM software is the technical support necessary to configure and operate it.
This is generally an expensive resource, especially for smaller businesses that have little or no technical staff on site. When a business chooses this option, the manufacturer usually provides limited support, if any, so if a business encounters obstacles, there will be little recourse.
Short on Features
Although open-source CRM software will likely have more features than free versions of pre-configured software, it still often lacks the features found in the best systems on the market. It’s important that a business be aware of the features that will be missing before making that decision.
Best Open-Source Software Providers
There are many options for businesses interested in an open-source CRM solution, including:
- Sugar CRM - Of all of the open-source options on the market, Sugar is one of the best known. Paid plans start at $40 per user per month, but a community version is available for free.
- Vtiger - Vtiger's open-source platform originally forked from Sugar, with plans to be an open-source version of Sugar CRM. Over time, however, paid versions have emerged that have made vtiger a well-known product in its own right.
- Fat Free CRM - Fat Free CRM is proud of its simplicity, which makes it easy to use. However, this interface also limits its functionality.
- CiviCRM - Designed with the needs of nonprofits in mind, CiviCRM works with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
Verdict on Open Source CRM
For businesses interested in a customizable CRM solution, open-source software is a great option.
However, it’s important to realize before choosing open-source that doing so is a substantial commitment. Businesses will need the resources in place to set up and configure this type of CRM, as well as support it once users are interacting with it each day.
For many businesses, paid CRM software remains the best option. Before it reaches a business’ systems, paid applications have been thoroughly tested, with the bugs already worked out. Because there are so many paid packages, a business can usually find an option that meets its needs while also fitting within its budget.