The Top 10 Open-Source CRM Solutions

Updated: May 26, 2009

Issue

Open-source software is not for businesses who want out-of-the-box complete applications, but it makes sense for companies that want to tailor every aspect of the CRM experience from the ground up.

CRM buyers might have very few choices were it not for open-source applications. The CRM field is dominated by huge players such as Oracle Corp. and SAP, and the open-source model is perhaps the easiest way into the CRM market for new companies. Open-source CRM projects have been proliferating; SourceForge Inc. lists 369 active open-source CRM projects. The following 10 open-source CRM solutions have risen to the top of the list.

 

Analysis

1. SugarCRM Inc. is the 800-pound gorilla in the open-source CRM category. Founded in 2004 by John Roberts, Clint Oram and Jacob Taylor, the Sugar open-source code has been downloaded more than 3 million times. The company has received $26 million in venture financing and employs more than 100 people. More than 12,000 companies use SugarCRM including Honeywell International, Starbucks Corp., First Federal Bank and BDO Seidman LLP. SugarCRM is written in PHP and is compatible with the MySQL database.

2. SplendidCRM Software Inc.'s development team formed in November 2005. The application is built on the Microsoft platform (Windows, ISS, SQL Server, C# and ASP). Designed for system integrators, SplendidCRM allows administrators to add user-customizable features such as .NET 2.0's Themes, Web Parts and AJAX. SplendidCRM is positioned as a competitor to SugarCRM, as the two applications share many of the same features. For instance, both offer an Outlook plug-in and the ability to add custom fields.

3. CentricCRM has been around for seven years and has achieved a great deal of stability and robustness. In June 2007, CentricCRM (renamed Concursive as of December 2007) received investment funding from Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of Intel Corp. CentricCRM is aimed at the small-business market, although it has scaled up within Fortune 500 companies. Its more complex features can be turned off if they are not needed, and the administrative console allows for a great deal of customization. The free version comes with five user licenses. Centric CRM is written in Java and is compatible with MySQL databases.

4. Hipergate bills itself as "the most complete open-source Java CRM and groupware." That's a lot to pack into a single package, but this enterprise-class application seems to have it all. Its functional modules include collaboration and groupware; contact management; project management and support-issues tracking; an e-shopping module with multiple catalogs and payment processing; a content -management module; mass email distribution and tracking; a corporate library; roles-based security; queries and reports; and more. Written in Java and JSP, hipergate is operating system-independent. Databases with which it is compatible include Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle and PostgreSQL.

5. Compiere Inc. offers a complete ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM application with support for marketing and sales, human resources, inventory control and more. There is even a full business-accounting package, something often seen in open-source software. Compiere received a $6 million injection of venture capital in June 2006. Compiere is written in Java, JavaScript and PL/SQL, and it is compatible with JDBC and Oracle databases.

6. Vtiger CRM is built upon the LAMP/WAMP (Linux/Windows, Apache, MySQL and PHP) architecture, with the main development team based in Chennai, India. Vtiger CRM includes SFA (Sales Force Automation), customer-support and -service, marketing automation, inventory-management, multiple database support, security-management, product-customization, calendaring and email-integration features. It also offers add-ons (Outlook Plug-in, Office Plug-in, Thunderbird Extension, Customer Self-service Portal and Web Forms) and support for other add-ons. Vtiger is written in JavaScript, PHP and Visual Basic. It is compatible with ADOdb, MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

7. CentraView Inc.'s offering is a combination of contact management, SFA and CRM functions. Its source code is J2EE-based and builds on the MySQL database. The first version of CentraView was released in November 2004, for the Linux and Windows 2000/XP platforms. Today, the software is offered in both hosted and downloadable forms. Centraview CRM is written in Java and JSP and is compatible with MySQL databases.

8. XRMS CRM is a Web-based application suite that incorporates human-resources management, SFA and CRM. It is an on-premise solution for the small to midsize company. XRMS CRM includes computer telephony integration and the ability to add plug-ins for programs such as Outlook. XRMS CRM is operating-system independent, and it is written in an interpreted language (PHP). Compatible databases include ADOdb, SQL-based, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and other network-based DBMS.

9. Cream CRM is a multilingual application designed for media organizations. The application tracks sales orders, payments, shipments, services, online and print subscriptions, and the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. Modules allow communication with customers via newsletters, email and a Web interface. Cream CRM is an initiative of the Media Development Loan Fund's Center for Advanced Media in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Cream CRM runs on FreeDSB, Linux and Windows 2000/XP. It is written in Java and JavaScript.

10. Tustena CRM is a Microsoft-centric application written for enterprise-class organizations. It comes in three solutions: On Demand, Business and Open Source. On Demand is the hosted version, while the Business version is installed on clients' site and features tech support. Users who opt for the Open Source version get the source code and can modify it as they wish, relying on the community for support. Tustena CRM is written in C#, ASP.NET and JavaScript. It is compatible with Microsoft SQL Server.

 

Recommendations

Although many companies opt for major CRM offerings such as Salesforce and Oracle, open-source solutions are proving to be popular among businesses with limited costs and unique needs. Before investing in an open-source solution, however, be sure to investigate your options to find the right vendor for your company.

 

For more information on CRM software, please consult the Compare Business Products CRM Comparison Chart.