As you read the title, one thing primarily comes in your mind; what is open source CRM and why should I consider that as an alternative when so many proprietary vendors offer products at par with the latest features offered in the field of Customer Relationship Management. The concept of “Open Source” emphasizes on the fact that “Sharing of knowledge increases it”. For any software, its source code is the most valuable product and can be used constructively to enhance its functionality. In this article, we’ discuss what differs between Open Source and Proprietary CRM.
Open Source CRM
|Every organization that wishes to implement CRM defines features specific to their domain. Since open source software is supported by a community of developers, more features can be built for that piece of software in a shorter time scale.
|The vendor who sells the CRM software has total control of the features made available through it. This situation leads to vendor lock where you or your organization has to rely on a third party CRM vendor to provide updates and features time to time. The software is accessible only through a well-defined interface and the consumer is unable to make any modifications to the CRM software without the consent of the vendor.
|Since the source code is available, the organization using the CRM can either customize it with the help of in-house staff or request the CRM developer community to create custom code to implement the desired functionality.
|Sometimes, an organization may require CRM software without any customization. Proprietary vendors offer highly customized products for different niche industries since they charge heavily for their products.
|In the case of Open Source CRM, a developer community is responsible for managing and updating code. If a bug has been discovered, then the organization using the CRM is forced to rely on this community to generate the appropriate workaround. However, the positive aspect is that the updates are released as they are developed resulting in minor version changes. Consumers should prefer using back-tested updates prior to implementing them on their system.
|Proprietary CRM vendors may defer releasing one or two updates at a given time and may prefer releasing several updates simultaneously in the form of a new version. Consumers may be forced to pay high fees to use updates and there is no alternative since purchasing CRM from proprietary vendors enforces a vendor lock between the two parties.
|An active developer community is the utmost requirement while opting for an open source CRM.
|This is one of the areas where a proprietary CRM system outperforms an open source CRM. The developer community is a set of loosely tied people who are not affiliated with any organization and as such, urgent assistance is out of question. It is the proprietary CRM vendor who offers excellent customer care and technical assistance at critical times thereby enabling the CRM consumer to meet their business objectives without fail.
|Open source CRM can be declared the winner with respect to this aspect.
|Proprietary CRM vendors charge not only for the software license but also for updates and support in certain cases and as such they are ten times more expensive than open source CRM systems.
|Third party Integration
|Open source CRM offer integration with cloud based services and tools such as Microsoft Outlook, HubSpot and Pardot. Open Source CRM does not have any issues working on different platforms.
|Third party tools may or may not support integration with other tools. If integration is desired, it may invoke an additional expenditure on the consumer side. The system is tied to the hardware and software on which it runs and hence, changes in operating environment may necessitate software customization.
Organizations must consider the above aspects prior to implementing CRM capability in their business model. Based on the niche, usage requirements, budget and system availability requirements, a choice is made.