How Open Source CRM is Beneficial to Business

EasyERP Team 02/06/2016

Why CRM software is crucial to growing businesses? Why should businesses and companies use open source CRM systems? Advantages, drawbacks and challenges of a software with the open code reviewed below.

Building trust and keeping relationships with customers strong and fresh is always a challenge for any type of business. To help themselves 99% of companies, startups or enterprises have used at some point and to some extent a CRM system. With all the improvements, turns and updates the open source CRM solution has been introduced back in 2014. It brought out brand new opportunities and options.

A quick reminder about CRM: this is customer relationship management software. Commonly a web-based application used to organize business data. Information about potential clients, current customers, leads, transactions – a kind of database. Further on, options of profit tracking, accounting, client retention tools, and other useful things alike have been introduced by tech community to better the efficiency of CRM systems.

CRM market is predicted to reach $36 billion by 2017 – Gartner ForecastClick To Tweet

Business companies are well familiar with benefits from CRM software. Dealing with vast customers information they tackle the load with it. A crucial task for companies is to start and  maintain good relations with customers, that is why CRMs are essential now for a business growth. The only restrain here is financial limitations – not all can afford this type of software. Therefore, an introduction of open source CRM made it possible to everyone to benefit from this software, from small businesses and startups to large companies.

Open source CRM systems have a lot to offer. Simple modification by IT staff, lesser cost, wide array of use options. If your business doesn’t have IT workers as employees, you can hire developers at lower rates for open source than for commercial CRM applications. If you need to test a specific business software before the acquisition, open source software systems are relevant to consider as well. Solutions of open source CRM come in numerous types, utilities and business models.

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By the way, according to Gartner Forecast [Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012-2017], CRM market is predicted to reach $36 billion by 2017, even eclipsing ERP systems.

Open Source CRM Features

In the sphere of enterprise software open source systems have a colossal effect currently, and especially the customer relationship management (CRM) applications. That’s happening due to open source CRM systems advantages – lowering costs for customer acquisition, allowing access to the source code and its modifications, etc. And the market for open source is just at the starting point of its growth, as it needs to overcome certain limitations as well as business somewhat larger expectations from this type of software.

Free CRM comes in 2 types – free, with certain limitations (freemium), and open source. Freemium CRM options set a fixed number of free users and/or storage, and limits to features. Totally free for every valuable feature is, of course, not a realistic expectation.

Cheap rather than free. As free in nature, open source CRM gets the most important appeal and many companies regard it as a way of cheap CRM deployment. However, it must be kept in mind that there’s a cost cost of modifying and integrating the source code, it requires customization similar to proprietary solutions. Looking long-term, open source software may  also bring maintenance costs.

Platforms and product features. Open source correlates well with standard operating systems, platforms, uniform enterprise applications. Though it has yet to become more collaborative for multi-user applications and integrate better with enterprise software, like CRMs, ERPs,  accounting systems. It is more of a feature of a product, any software product has to stand its ground firm both with open source and without, free and proprietary.

Advantages

  • Most open-source software applications come at no cost. Support and modification may be done with a paid fee, but the source code itself is free. With time and talent to adapt it  one can save on licensing fees.
  • Open source code is a subject to customization and amendment. It can be rebuilt to take any shape to your liking and business goals.
  • No licensing commitment of any sort. Unlike commercial CRMs having at least some fee or time obligations, with open source CRM there is nothing like that. Use it for as long as you need, or quit using without any reparation clauses.

Limitations

  • Open source CRM developers offer support limited to some extent. Some of them provide paid support, while in practice most of the support for open source comes from developer forums.
  • It has a lesser degree of functionality, as it is not aimed at all the possible application ways at once. The focus is more on vital functions, otherwise open source software goes against its nature.
  • Constant amendment and updating is obligatory due to the evolving nature of business and customer needs.

Some businesses may harvest open source CRM benefits better in regard of business environment and infrastructure. Small companies (SMBs) and startups mostly do not require high-level software, thus saving money. Free CRM for them may be a proper option, and on the other hand, larger businesses with development teams can customize an open-source CRM.

The demand for powerful CRM software is growing drastically these days. Software can be simple performing serious tasks, and open source need to be collaborative and seamless. Disorganized sets of data, customer groups, suppliers can be incorporated and unified, as well as customer behavior, requirements and preferences can be predicted with CRM system. That is why open source software has gone upwards in use, and many businesses have realized the opportunities of CRM deploying.

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In recent VentureBeat research the return on investment from marketing automation tools like CRM and open source CRM has been calculated, and found to be pretty positive. As a clear confirmation that automation software provides ROI, 70% of companies and marketing efforts experienced increase in number of leads, and 75% had the number of conversions go higher.

Challenges

Customer relationship management is ideally focused on profitable communication with clients and presents a technological tool for business strategies. Though, it lacks better ability to engage customers and suppliers. The new critical update to CRM software is anticipated. Two reasons to that: a) business now requires fresh tools to respond to empowered customers, b) CRM itself needs a do-over thirstily. Now, what are the issues for CRM systems to surmount?

Transition.There’s a demand for CRM systems to reorient from the sales driven customer management and workflow optimization, to the communication driven customer engagement application. It should interact with customers and prospects across various channels first, and then build relationships based on business objectives.

Engagement.Customers  start the conversations on social channels of their liking and their number is stunning these days. Therefore, CRM software should be able to inform marketers about these channels, so businesses can join in. The task in this regard is to seek out the right information from the overload of unrelated content. After that, with CRM one should be able to direct social content to sales or support, aiming at quick responses to people’s’ requests. In other words, business software should show a sell opportunity, a customer problem, a competitor situation.

Customer Experience.CRM software must assist to better the customer experience. It definitely must, no doubt. Every interaction, every record, every comment, request or feedback. With one piece of software you should be able to collect all that data and react with it, otherwise it won’t stand the competition. It should also measure customer experiences: customer feedback tools, buyer journey marking tools, sales process and automation mechanisms.

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Open Source CRM For Business

CRM systems, commercial or free CRM, both come with similar functionality and features. Thus, the open source CRM systems has the value in customization and the absolutely free source code. What’s more rational – efforts to choose a commercial CRM product with the specific features, or adding the precise features one needs to an open source product?

Open source applications may produce solid benefits to business. Basic development costs of open source applications are free of charge, due to that fact small and medium size business owners can access and use the technology. Most of them usually can’t afford the common IT infrastructure including expenses: hardware, bandwidth, software licenses and maintenance, technical staff.

Contrary to that, lots of software has been developed by programmers across the globe to run on different platform. Especially after the proliferation of Linux, the free and open source operating system. Any application, including any type of business software, can be found in the open source community. With enough infrastructure to host and manage open source applications, businesses are able now to use them at available costs.

Enterprise oriented software (CRM, ERP, e-commerce, CMS, PRM etc.) can be set up for $100 or so. Together with affordable and fixed monthly hosting fees, no need for extensive infrastructure and IT staff, the value of open source applications appears to become really big for business owners. Other benefits include:

  • permanent updates and upgrades in real time, so long waiting periods for vendor release of a next version are eliminated;
  • quick response from the open source community to identify and fix any bugs;
  • full access to the source code, unlike with proprietary software systems where the code is not for reach.

Regarding open source CRM options you can always find tons of information online, for instance just type something like “best free open source CRM software”. You’ll get tons of results.

Chatra