When is an open source CRM a good idea?

Whilst implementing open source CRM can be a good idea for many organizations, it may not be the best choice for all.  With this in mind, we are going to look at when it should be considered a viable choice.

What is open source CRM software?

‘Open source CRM’ is software for which the user can download source code free of charge.  It is available to anyone at any time to download and modify as required. Once they have it working as they wish, they can even share it with others without problems over licensing. Because the system has already been built by the providers, all development teams need to do is refine it to suit their needs.

Using software in this way has many advantages so let’s look at what they are and why for many it ticks all the boxes:

What types of organizations suit open source CRM?

If you are the sort of organisation that is looking for software that offers all of the following, then open-source CRM may be a good match for you.

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  • Free of charge so zero cost – you get the basics without paying anything and may also have an option to get support from the provider at an added cost.  If you have the capability to modify in-house, you can save a lot of money, particularly when it comes to licensing fees. Figures show that open-source software saves businesses $60 billion a year.
  • No ties – you will not be tied into a licensing commitment, so you’re not stuck paying for a CRM that is unsuitable.  Open source CRM is open-ended with no time restrictions, meaning you can use it for as long as you wish with no penalties being enforced.
  • It’s totally customizable – don’t underestimate this advantage as it is a great asset; your CRM needs to deal with your customers in a set way and how you do this is likely different from other companies.  Your developers can tear it apart, modify and rebuild as they see fit, turning it into something that works for you. Forget one-size-fits-all; you can do to this what you like, fulfilling all user needs without having to pay for features you may never use. If you don’t have the resources in-house to customize, you can hire someone to do it for you - though this will increase the TCO of your CRM somewhat.
  • Easy to manage – you can install in as many locations as you wish and don’t have to worry about how many licenses you need as there will not be any.
  • You can keep on improving it – add new features and improve as you go.  The system will be as good as you want it to be.

What types of organizations don't suit open source CRM?

Using open source CRM does not bring with it many disadvantages but if your needs are very precise and you know exactly what you want and don’t want the hassle of working on the code, then open-source may not be for you.  It may also not be suitable if you don’t have qualified staff in-house to work on and modify it as the costs incurred in using outsourced labour may negate the many positive.

Finally, very large organizations such as large hotel groups or car dealerships that require complex CRM systems - but can’t find anything to suit their needs from mainstream CRM vendors - may be better served by getting developers to build from scratch to suit their needs, rather than trying to turn a Mini into a Ferrari.

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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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