Open source CRM platforms have become quite popular, and millions of businesses are using them for managing sales, support, and customer relationship management functions.
Every business needs CRM, and to some companies purchasing expensive CRM systems (SAAS or on-premises) may not be a feasible option. More than price, other factors such as vendor lock-in, extensibility, and architecture compatibility are other reasons enterprises may prefer an Open Source CRM platform.
Companies that consider open source CRM solutions should evaluate the licensing types and the implications. While it is outside the scope of this article to discuss the nuances of GNU, GPL, MIT, and other licensing options, we would like to forewarn that the licensing may limit what you can do and how any intellectual components and customizations will be treated going forward.
A vibrant community of developers is a fundamental prerequisite for a robust Open Source CRM. Without hordes of developers updating, improving, and adding features, open-source software can become unstable, stale, and stagnant.
Pros and Cons of using Open Source CRM Software:
Advantage of using Open Source CRM Platforms:
- Inexpensive: Like any other open-source software, the community editions are free
- Ability to customize: As it is not proprietary closed software, your enterprise can customize it to your needs.
- Ecosystem: Most popular open-source software platforms have a vibrant developer community.
- No lock-in: You are not obligated to sign a contract with a multi-year lock-in.
- Flexible Deployment Models: An enterprise can choose how to deploy the open-source software – hosted, self-hosting, SAAS models. (Of course, hosted and SAAS models are premium offerings and will have an associated fee.)
Disadvantages of using Open Source CRM Software Solutions:
- Limited support options: Most of the time, you may be limited to using community support. In enterprises where adoption is a challenge, this could pose problems.
- Customization: Learning curve in understanding and customizing software (even though popular open source systems have an ecosystem of knowledgeable third-party developers or systems integrators.)
- Usability: Ease of use may at times be a challenge. (Of course, this is not necessarily true of all systems.)
- Malicious Code: Free access to source code may lead to vulnerabilities initiated by bad actors.
Comprehensive CRM Features and Functions List:
Of course, the first step in an enterprise purchasing decision is the product/platform fit for the purpose. Depending on the sales model, the CRM business requirements of firms may vary substantially. For example, the CRM requirements of a B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), or B2B2C (business to business to consumer) will be materially different. And whether a company engages in ABM (Account-based Marketing) may also lead to a set of unique selection criteria while choosing a CRM platform – open source or commercial.
In general, the following are some of the core features and functionality of a best-in-class Open Source CRM System.
Open Source CRM Features:
- Activities Management
- Alerts and Notifications
- Calls and Emails Integration
- Contact Management
- Contract Management including e-Signatures
- Customer Interaction History
- Customizable Fields
- Deal Management
- Document Management
- Integrations (Marketing Automation, Help desk, Collaboration, and much other related software.)
- Lead Management
- Opportunity Management
- Pricing Integration
- Proposal Generation
- Quota Allocation and Management
- Quotation Management
- Reports and Dashboards
- Sales Forecast
- Territory Management
- Win-Loss Analysis
Best Open Source CRM Software Tools:
SuiteCRM is one of the popular customer relationship management solutions in the open-source world.
SuiteCRM numbers are impressive, and the software maker claims a user base of over 4.500,000, a community of over 125,000, and more than a million downloads.
VTiger is one of the stable and most popular open source CRM platforms in the world. It has nearly 5 million downloads and has an extensive set of integrations, apps, and ecosystem integrations.
VTiger offers comprehensive CRM features and an integrated platform extending to related functions.
Odoo is an open source ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) platform with a customer relationship management application as a part of its suite. Odoo CRM has many capabilities, features, and functionalities, but it also has some quirks and drawbacks.
EspoCRM is a web-based open source CRM application that allows users to see, enter and evaluate all the enterprise relationships in an intuitive interface.
Espo CRM offers a standard set of features emphasizing supporting different industry verticals and business models.
ORO CRM is another open source CRM platform that supports different business and sales models.
Oro CRM offers standard customer relationship management features.
X2CRM is an enterprise CRM, Marketing Automation, and Workflow solution that supports various facets of customer engagement.
X2 CRM offers a robust set of features.
Honorable Mention – Hubspot:
Interestingly, Hubspot, which is primarily a marketing automation platform, offers its CRM for free. It is considered lightweight compared to fully-featured commercial or open-source platforms but may suffice for more straightforward use cases.