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.
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.
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.
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.
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