Why we've gone open source: an interview with Really Simple Systems’ CEO John Paterson

Last week, software provider Really Simple Systems launched a completely rewritten version of its cloud-based CRM.

“I’ve worked with companies where this sort of rebuild has destroyed the company” says CEO John Paterson, who doesn’t beat about the bush about how significant a task this has been.. “It’s been a huge undertaking for our development team”

And no wonder. Rebuilt from the ground up, ‘CRM Version 5’ shifts the software away from Microsoft’s Classic ASP platform to a completely new open source model.

The move has been labor-intensive to say the least but has offered the company numerous benefits: 

A move towards flexibility

“We’d been on ASP since we launched in 2005. Things were starting to fall over, and we felt things were getting too out of date. We realized we needed to completely rebuild our CRM”

The choice Really Simple Systems faced was to stick with Microsoft and update to the “big and clunky” .NET framework, or to move away from Microsoft entirely. In the end, the company found itself drawn to the possibilities a Linux-based model offered its client base:

“The two main reasons we decided to make the switch were the richness of the environment and the performance benefits Linux offers. It was a question of speed, convenience and flexibility.

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“With .NET, you tend to be tied into the Microsoft stack, and whenever Microsoft issues an update you have to restart your servers. Obviously, this isn’t very convenient, particularly when you have more than one.”

New features...but with the same market emphasis

As well as being built on a completely new platform, CRM Version 5 also offers a number of new features designed for an intuitive user experience. These include drag and drop customization, a global search bar, easy data move and merge options and pull-out support draws on each page.

Drag and drop customization in Really Simple Systems' CRM Version 5 


Really Simple Systems were keen to expand functionality without abandoning its core user base and emphasis on high quality customer support.

“There’s huge pressure to always be adding more features” John explains. “There’s a draw to go upmarket, and once companies go down this road they gradually leave their original market behind. The new features we’ve added are very much designed around the needs of small and micro-businesses.”

The pull-out support drawers, for example, provide users with self-help and basic troubleshooting options with direct links to the company’s customer support hub. The benefits of this are twofold: first, customers can find a more immediate resolution to their issues. Second, that Really Simple Systems can offer more in-depth support to those that really need it.  

Pull out help drawers in CRM Version 5


A particular benefit, given that half of Really Simple Systems’ customers have never used a CRM before: “It’s not always a question of simple issues versus complex issues. Users who have no experience with CRM will naturally need more support. These features allow us to do that, and to offer a system with all the features they need without trading in on usability.”

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Kathryn Beeson

About the author…

Kathryn is the editor of discovercrm.com. Whilst she spends a lot of her time coordinating and editing content from the Discover CRM writing team, she sometimes finds time to write articles herself. Outside of work she can usually be found running, bouldering or playing squash

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Kathryn Beeson

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