Clearly, finding the right open source CRM (customer relationship management) for your business isn't as simple as randomly selecting one. To be sure, there are plenty of good open source CRM apps, but still: you must carefully weigh features, function, licensing and support, for your own needs.
In this article, I'll share my top open source CRM picks. And with any luck, you'll find one that'll be a great match for your business!
Open Source CRM: So Many Choices…
Vtiger – I decided to start off with Vtiger as they offer you solid documentation for installation and setup on your own server and their community edition is open source software. They offer three package types: starter, professional and ultimate. Its three main areas of benefit break down to Marketing/Sales, Support and all of these in one package. The edition you select will reflect how much capability you'll get from the CRM application. Support offered includes videos, written documentation and of course, phone/email support as well.
EspoCRM – One area where EspoCRM really does a great job is on their website. From the very beginning, they provide potential users with a clear idea of what features are available in this CRM software. Right off the bat, EspoCRM encourages you to download and install the open source CRM solution. However "cloud" options are also made available for a fee. I also like that the bulk of their income is derived from selling add-on functionality. This is awesome because you're not looped into buying features you don't need with the basic version. Instead, you start out with a basic version of the CRM and then add on functionality as you see fit. For those looking to install this on their own Linux server, the documentation is outstanding. And you can get support over the phone, email and via their forums.
SugarCRM – If there was ever a CRM tool designed to get you away from Salesforce, this would be it. Having used SalesForce, I can tell you anything is an improvement and I honestly think that for most businesses SugarCRM falls into that category. This CRM offering comes in three separate editions – professional, enterprise and ultimate. As expected due to Sugar's popularity, the documentation is top notch. However, Locating the documentation took a Google search due to their website design and information overload. Support is available through community forums, a ticket support system and phone.
Zurmo – Zurmo is a CRM application that feels like it was designed with the salesperson in mind. With the built-in "Gamification" themed rewards offering scores and badges, something tells me the achievements could keep sales people pretty motivated. Competition is a big part of the human condition. This CRM also has typical functionality you might find elsewhere, with the additional ability to personalize dashboards, custom fields and dropdown menus. Right from the front page, I love how Zurmo pushes its open source nature and encourages you to download it for yourself. Of course, there are also commercial versions available for anyone looking to run this with support provided. Support is provided by community forum, wiki, and for the paid supported edition, email and phone.
SuiteCRM – The best thing about SuiteCRM is that they mention its open source software in huge text on their home page. The second thing I like about this application is that the reasons why you might consider using them are clearly stated on the home page as well. From there, SuiteCRM's support can also help with migrating to SuiteCRM, customization, and a clear understanding of workflow. Support is available freely from the forums or in a paid capacity from silver, gold and platinum support plans.
Odoo – Odoo offers us a great layout along with a clear idea how it provides a solid CRM platform. It's available in three editions: Online, Enterprise and Community. I'm happy to report that the community edition is fairly full featured, which allows a company to "grow" into Odoo's more advanced functionality (accounting, VoIP support, etc) as time goes on. With that growth, comes an Enterprise license. With the Online and Enterprise editions, you're free to explore its eCommerce, inventory, point of sale and time sheet functionality as well. What's really mind blowing is the extended functionality isn't on a per feature add-on basis in terms of cost. For enterprise users, the extra features are free with the license fee. Support is available via the forum, mailing list and the enterprise license.
OBM – OBM quite frankly has a pretty unpleasant looking homepage. But don't let that stop you from exploring what they have to offer. It's perhaps one of the purist forms of CRM I've seen in quite some time. Sticking with the basics, you'll find typical groupware functionality along with strong administration controls. I believe this is a good CRM solution for anyone looking at basic functionality and a directory centric layout of older CRM layouts. It's fast, easy to use and if you're someone who speaks French, documentation is available in that language. This is perhaps best for a small shop looking to setup a CRM on their own without the need for corporate support.
Compiere – Compiere is an ERP (enterprise resource planning) tool that also offers typical CRM functionality. This software is designed with warehousing and manufacturing companies in mind. The real benefit of having ERP functionality provided within your CRM means you'll have everything you need in a single platform. Compiere is available in two separate editions: enterprise and community. As for support, the community edition offers forums and a wiki. The enterprise option also includes free documentation, plus phone/email ticket support.
Dolibarr – Dolibarr is unique in that it provides support for freelancers. I also like the fact that it provides extended functionality without the sticker shock in terms of price. This CRM software is both open source and available at no cost to you. The only potential for incurred cost comes from add-ons and plugins for extended functionality. Because this is very much a community project without any clear corporate backing, your support options are limited to the provided documentation and forums.
EPESI – The last in this list of Linux compatible CRM options is called EPESI. What makes it unique is the ability to take the mail page of the CRM and rearrange how things are laid out visually. This might seem like a petty thing to get excited about, however it's pretty nice to have when customizing ones workflow. In addition to expected CRM functionality, this tool also offers ERP options as well. With its modular design and cloud, enterprise and DIY editions, odds are there is a CRM solution available for everyone. Free support consists of user forums and the manual. Paid support will get you assistance via Skype, phone or email.
Your favorite open source CRM solution?
So what's your favorite open source CRM solution? Perhaps you're a fan of one that's not listed above? Maybe you have a suggestion that involves a CRM work-a-round that doesn't use the usual groupware approach? Whatever it may be, hit the Comments below and share your thoughts.