As your organization grows, keeping track of customer relationships and lead interactions can be a hassle. Pen and paper, Excel sheets, and remembering all your prospects by name won’t suffice when your business begins to thrive.
Thus, investing in a quality customer relationship management (CRM) platform is key. However, making the right selection will ultimately depend on the kind of choice you make: open source or proprietary.
This is in addition to other factors, such as user-friendliness, upkeep, price, and complexity. Which is the best open source CRM development platform for small businesses? The answer depends on your needs and preferences.
This will all be discussed below.
What is an Open Source CRM?
An open-source CRM, or any application for that matter, is simply a product that has its source code visible to public view. This allows developers or just about anyone to modify, distribute, and redistribute different versions of the application to suit virtually any purpose.
The major benefit of open source software is that a community of savvy developers can work together to create a perfect solution for any business. A famous example of this is WordPress, the highly popular content management system (CMS).
WordPress has a faithful community of developers who facilitate source code modifications to ultimately create highly-specific plugins for any collaborator. To do this, developers will use Github or other platforms to add and change features, as well as fix bugs.
Companies can even reach out and hire developers to build a suitable platform for their needs. Many open source platforms run specifically for Linux and provide the same benefits as proprietary solutions, which include:
- Contact management
- Marketing automation
- Customer support
- Pipeline management
The reason why open source CRMs are popular is because they can be adjusted to fit the needs of any business. Unlike proprietary solutions where you get what you pay for, open source CRMs can be modified just for you if you’re willing to compile the necessary resources.
Open Source vs. Proprietary CRMs
To put it simply, a proprietary CRM is a product that’s completely finished and ready for use as soon as you download it or purchase the subscription. You can use a proprietary CRM all on your own without having to hire in-house or freelance developers.
This out-of-the-box solution is best for companies with very few stylistic preferences. Also known as a full-stack option, proprietary CRMs cover all basic needs a standard business will have.
On the other hand, open source CRMs expect you to modify them as you go to calibrate the platforms strictly according to your needs and workflow. It’s also important to note that open source CRMs are well-developed and have streamlined features that are easy to use.
Many small- to medium-sized businesses opt for open source CRMs, while others will settle for proprietary solutions. In reality, there isn’t a strong difference between the two solutions.
Both products offer project management, marketing, sales, and other helpful features that can help you scale your business by achieving more conversions. The difference ultimately comes down to what kind of platform you need and how much you’re willing to invest.
To help you make that decision, here is a cost-benefit analysis of both options.
Open Source CRMs:
These solutions are best suited for businesses with unique needs, time, and resources needed for constant development.
- A thriving community can help provide support and new features for your specific goals.
- Open source CRMs offer more dynamic integrations without any vendor restrictions.
- These CRMs provide maximum scalability and flexibility for any kind of business.
- Open source CRMs are also more affordable than proprietary solutions.
- Some may find altering the source code too time-consuming and take away from primary business duties.
- A lot of budgeting and planning will be necessary to spearhead integrations and other features some businesses don’t have.
- Many communities fizzle out and can leave active members without a sense of direction.
- Some open source projects are simply less secure.
These solutions are best suited for businesses with ordinary needs who want to get started immediately.
- You can save a lot of time and money by choosing this out-of-the-box solution.
- Depending on the provider, you can receive regular new features to your platform without having to do the work yourself.
- Once you download or pay for the subscription, you can use the platform yourself. There isn’t a massive learning curve for new users.
- There is no room for growth when business picks up.
- If you operate in a specific niche, it may not be the best option for you.
- You essentially get what you pay for and nothing more.
- Proprietary solutions are usually more expensive and require longer user commitment.
Best Open Source CRM Solutions in 2021
For many businesses, choosing an open source CRM provides all the flexibility they need to scale their business. If you’ve decided to side with an open source CRM, there are still a host of factors to consider before making a final product choice.
Below are some of the best open source CRM solutions on the market today.
SuiteCRM is a valuable platform that provides a bunch of helpful marketing, sales, and service features, in addition to relationship development, layout, and custom modules to help foster new customer relations and integrate with your IT team.
Users can also take advantage of the intuitive dashboard showcasing real-time data. As new data is processed, the dashboard will instantaneously show important pipeline metrics, cash flow, and project statuses.
Developers will also love the fact that this platform can be modified on any operating system, from Windows to Android and Ubuntu. The low learning curve, convenient adaptability, and easy setup make SuiteCRM one of the most popular options available.
Of course, there are a few glaring disadvantages to be aware of.
Users may dread the slow helpdesk waiting times for support. This is to be expected when dealing with a community-driven platform. Another drawback is that the features and integrations aren’t as tightly-developed as compared to proprietary solutions.
Lastly, it’s impossible to integrate SuiteCRM with any ERP software. Therefore, if you’re looking for a holistic solution, this may not be the best choice for you.
Odoo is a unique open source CRM that allows users to mix and max different features. In addition, users can seamlessly integrate this platform with more than 10,000+ applications.
For retail, brick-and-mortar establishments, and restaurants, Odoo offers a dynamic point and sale app. This allows you to view point of sale data that will reflect across your sales operation, email marketing, and inventory management.
Using Odoo is completely free, but you’ll have to pay to install any custom add-ons.
Using Odoo will require enduring a long learning curve. Users will have to spend a great deal of time setting up the platform to prevent any future headaches. Also, the invoicing tool can be difficult to use consistently.
Specifically, you’ll need to create a separate quote and an order in order to send invoices to customers. On top of this, the reporting options are limited and customer support can be slow since the community is full of developers instead of staff.
OroCRM has built a stellar reputation as one of the most versatile open source CRMs available for public use. The platform was built using a popular PHP framework called Symfony2.
Since Symfony 2 is used mostly in website development projects, experienced developers are more likely to understand the source code and make any modifications. This makes it possible to avoid breaking your budget to design the platform exactly the way you want it.
MailChimp and Zendesk are two of the most popular integrations OroCRM has to offer. The good news is that this platform is completely free to use, and you can reach out directly to request their enterprise version.
There are two main disadvantages to using OroCRM. For one, you will likely need to hire a developer to create customer support and help desk capabilities. Second, this platform is only available in English.
X2CRM is also a very popular CRM that automatically shares its source code through GitHub, Bitnami, and SourceForge for its open source version. Users are encouraged to modify the platform according to their own purpose.
You can download the platform directly to your webserver, but you also have the option of downloading the full stack version as well. The open source version closely models the features and modules from the commercial, proprietary solution.
Smaller businesses are best suited for this platform due to its exceptional funnel management, pipeline, and marketing campaigns. Users can also take advantage of the ability to create workflow visualizations and track emails from customers and leads.
Users can download the X2CRM for iOS and Android. The open source is completely free of charge.
X2CRM’s open source platform is not widely-used, so it can be difficult to receive quality support from developers. This is ultimately the consequence of dealing with a platform that already has a proprietary version.
Need a Custom CRM?
If you’re considering installing and developing a custom CRM for your business, then you’re obviously wanting to design a unique solution. This is where we come in. At Dev.co, we create custom CRM consulting services for any business. In addition, we are Silver Certified for custom development with Salesforce. So, if open source is not of interest, we can help with larger platforms as well.
Contact us today to speak to a member of our team about getting started.
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