Open source software has been quietly expanding across a wide range of applications in recent years. The majority of us are utilizing open source solutions without even realizing it. Take, for example, Google’s Android mobile operating system. Over 86 percent of the world’s smartphones are powered by it, and it’s completely open source. Anyone can view and modify its code, and they can also share it with others. The question is, how does a solution like open-source CRM fit into this picture? In this post, we’ll discuss what open-source CRM is and the benefits and drawbacks of using open-source CRM software.
What is Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
When a company or an organization publishes code to the public domain with the condition that anyone who uses the code and improves it is obligated to publish their improvements to the public domain as well, this is referred to as “open source.” As a result, development is not carried out by a single company but rather by a community of developers.
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You might wonder why any company would want to publish code that could be altered by others.
From the software provider’s perspective, this is a perfect scenario. They provide customers with the fundamentals of the source code, and the customers complete the work of adapting and streamlining the CRM to their specific needs. Customers are pleased because the CRM is highly customized to their specific business needs, and the provider is pleased because, if an incredible new feature emerges as a result of the development, it can be implemented for all of their customers at the same time. As development teams continue to fine-tune their open source changes, the usefulness of the CRM grows, and the software itself improves as a result of the cumulative effort. Many open source solutions, in fact, provide a list of features that have been requested, allowing developers to build these highly desired features and include them in their final product.
Open Source CRM is comprised of the following components:
- Customizable to the extreme.
- Depending on other popular development languages such as PHP or Java to expand its capabilities.
- Possibility of integrating with any other software that adheres to the OSI standards
CRM software that is proprietary versus CRM software that is open source
Open source CRM offers the same features as any other CRM you might purchase, including contact management, marketing automation, pipeline management, and other standard CRM functions, among other things. The difference between open-source and proprietary CRM is found in the amount of control that each type provides to the user of the software.
A proprietary customer relationship management system (CRM) is a closed system. Every feature and function has been pre-configured, allowing the solution to be downloaded/subscribed to and set up in a matter of minutes. The majority of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions available today are considered proprietary CRM. They are ready to use out of the box, but they can be further customized with the assistance of a CRM consulting partner. A major advantage of pre-configured solutions is how quickly and easily they enable businesses to get up and running with them.
It is possible that an open source CRM will provide the same basic functions and features as a proprietary CRM, but with the option to further develop and customize what you are given.
Community Open Source CRM vs. Commercial Open Source CRM is a comparison of two types of CRM software
Companies typically offer open source in one of two ways: as community open source or as commercial open source, depending on the company. Community open source is software that has been developed by a community and is available for free to the public. But there are many different kinds of open source software, ranging from GNU to CDDL to MIT. In open source software, the rules regarding who owns the modified source code vary depending on the license type that the open source software is distributed with.
Commercial open source is best described as the “freemium” version of open source, which is the most common way to describe it. As a starting point, consider community open source to be your free entry point, and commercial open source to be your advanced option, which provides the software for free but charges for licensing and additional features. Some people see commercial open source as a catch-22 situation. So, if the goal is to have open software, why is it that they are charging for the features and licenses that people need in order to actually build something?
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Source CRM
When used properly, open source provides users with seemingly limitless opportunities to better meet the requirements of their respective businesses or industries. Businesses using open source CRM, on the other hand, are at the mercy of third-party or community support resources to extend functionality and resolve issues if they do not have an experienced development team that is familiar with the source code of the solution. So, what are some of the other advantages and disadvantages of using an open source CRM system? Let’s get down to business.
The Advantages of Open Source CRM
- The source code for an open source solution is frequently available for free, and it can be used without the need to enter into a contract or make a long-term commitment.
- Individuals, teams, and even the entire company can benefit from modified code deployment.
- Open source developer communities assist IT teams in learning from one another in order to guide them through tasks such as bug fixes and troubleshooting, among others.
- Open source customer relationship management systems (CRMs) provide the flexibility to customize the CRM to meet industry requirements, process workflow standards, and other business-specific requirements.
Drawbacks of Open Source CRM
- Open source projects necessitate the investment of both time and expertise, both of which can become prohibitively expensive over time.
- Support is restricted to online developer communities and forums, or it is charged on an individual basis.
- If the hosting is in the Cloud, there is an additional charge, and if the other operating software is on-premises, there is an additional charge for the equipment.
- Upgrades are not included and will be charged at a separate rate.
- Basic versions of open source CRM may have fewer features than proprietary CRM solutions, and they are typically years behind commercial CRM solutions in terms of functionality.
- If a full-time developer is required, or if a server or firewall infrastructure is required, additional costs may be incurred.
- If a community of developers uses code from a protected source, such as a product fork, there is a risk of infringement, which could result in you being unable to use your CRM.
- It varies depending on the type of source license under which the software is distributed as to who has legal ownership of the source code.
Considerations for Open Source Customer Relationship Management
Before deciding on a software solution, every company should first determine what it is they hope to achieve by utilizing the tool. Is it possible to automate existing processes? Do you want to analyze MQL and SQL conversions? Is it possible to streamline the sales process? All of the foregoing?
In particular, if you’re interested in open source but aren’t sure if it’s the best fit for your company’s needs, the process of ranking CRM requirements will assist you in determining whether or not it is. Will the majority of your CRM activity be devoted to fundamental tasks such as setting up workflows, recording contact information, and generating sales reports? Or are you attempting to accomplish something that is more difficult?
Open source software is only viable if your company’s requirements match those of the software being used. Other than that, the cost of maintaining and modifying the software is typically higher than the cost of purchasing a proprietary solution.
If a company does not have a well-thought-out strategy for utilizing open source, as well as the long-term resources to work with the source code, build/test/execute business-specific functions, and maintain those connections, open source may not be the best option for the company to pursue.
When evaluating open-source CRM, the following are some important concepts to keep in mind:
What is the purpose of your CRM? How do you intend to use it? How do you anticipate it will scale in order to achieve your business objectives? Consider the types of operations that you will be able to perform with your solution. If you are confident that you have the technical resources to develop and maintain your ideal workflows and functions, open source software may be a good choice for your organization. If you’re looking for something to keep track of leads and contacts but don’t have the resources to invest in large-scale development, a proprietary CRM may be a better option.
Integration Capacity: You may wish to integrate your CRM with other solutions in the future to provide more comprehensive reporting and analytics capabilities. You must determine whether or not the CRM provides a Web service or API that will enable the integration to take place. API access is restricted in many open source customer relationship management systems.
Factors affecting development: Open source CRM offers many exciting possibilities, but businesses will require the assistance of developers to reap the full benefits. Do you have a CRM partner you can rely on to edit the source code for your application? Do you have a developer on staff who will take care of it? Is there a plan to hire someone if this is not the case? When it comes to open source CRM, the amount of time and effort that a development team will put in is an important factor to consider. It is essential for businesses to set realistic expectations for system uptime, modifications, and project prioritization. It is not always possible to receive prompt responses in open source because it is fueled by a community of fellow developers. It is also necessary to consider the return on investment (ROI) of not having proprietary CRM features, such as artificial intelligence, as well as the cost of implementing those features.
Hidden Costs: What do you mean, hidden costs? But you stated that it was free! Yes, open source CRM is, at its most basic level, completely free. For the most part, however, if you want “the good stuff,” as is the case with most things in life, you’ll have to pay a premium for it. In addition to considering whether or not to upgrade your open source CRM to a more robust version, you must also consider the cost of maintaining the system in question. What is the plan in the event that the system fails? Who is in charge of the upgrades and integrations within the system? What amount will you be required to pay someone (either internally or thru an external resource) in order to develop and manage the desired operations?
As an open source CRM solution, it’s critical that the solution you choose has a large community of developers and programmers from which to draw inspiration. Beside that, it may be worthwhile to consider partnering with a consultant who has specific knowledge of your CRM system in order to receive faster support for critical issues.
When in doubt about whether you should use open source or proprietary CRM, consider seeking advice from a CRM consultant with extensive experience in both environments. Their familiarity with a wide range of solutions provides them with a distinct advantage in terms of understanding how those solutions would work in the context of a company’s processes, long-term goals, existing solutions, and organizational structure. Using strategic selection processes, they can find a solution that provides the right combination of scalability and personalization for your specific requirements.