12 Open Source CRM Options
Updated · Sep 29, 2014
Talk about customer relationship management (CRM) software and you’ll probably be thinking about on-premise software packages or software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from big companies like Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle or Microsoft.
But as well as these and other commercial CRM offerings, there are plenty of viable open source CRM solutions.
Like other variants of open source software, many open source CRM apps come in free “community” editions as well as commercial open source editions that include additional features and support.
Specialist third party consultants also offer paid support and help with implementation. They can also customize the open source code to match your organization’s requirements.
Given that most CRM systems – proprietary or open source – include many of the same key features, the value of open source CRM systems comes from the fact that they can easily be customized because the source code is freely available, according to Greg Soper, managing director of SalesAgility, a consultancy that specializes in providing services for the popular SugarCRM open source product.
Rather than trying to choose a commercial CRM product that offers most of the features you need, it makes more sense to pay a consultancy such as his to add the precise features you need to an open source CRM product, Soper contends.
“Why not get the open source software that you plan to use for free, and then use the money that you would otherwise have spent on proprietary license fees to modify the open source software to meet your needs more closely?” he asks. “Why pay for software that is the same for all users when you can pay to have something that is unique?”
Here are 12 open source CRM solutions worth a closer look.
SugarCRM is the most well known and arguably the most comprehensive open source CRM package, with all the standard features that you would expect from a commercial package.
The free Community Edition is available to download for Linux, UNIX and OS X. Subscription versions include support, mobile functionality, sales automation and forecasting, marketing lead management and other extra features. They range from $35 per user per month (with a minimum $4,200-per-year subscription) for the Pro version, to $150 per user per month for the Ultimate version, which includes enterprise opportunity management, enterprise forecasting, a customer self-service portal and custom activity streams, 24/7 support and an assigned technical account manager.
Vtiger is based on SugarCRM code and offers most – but not all – of SugarCRM’s features. It has a few extra features of its own, such as inventory management and project management. It can be extended with official and third party add-ons such as a Microsoft Exchange connector and a Microsoft Outlook connector.
As well as the freely downloadable version, Vtiger offers its open source CRM as a SaaS product called Vtiger CRM on Demand for $12 per user per month, including 5 gigabytes of storage and support. Mobile apps for iOS and Android are available for a $20 one-time fee per device.
SuiteCRM is another fork of SugarCRM. Its aim is to offer functionality similar to SugarCRM’s commercial versions in a free community edition. (What prompted the fork was that SugarCRM announced in 2013 that it would no longer be releasing new code to its Community Edition, according to SuiteCRM.)
SuiteCRM is available to download and run free. Three hosted versions are also available for $16 per user per month: SuiteCRM Sales, SuiteCRM Service and SuiteCRM Max, which includes every feature of SuiteCRM. Basic forum-based support is free, while enhanced telephone, email and portal support is available for $8 per user per month.
Fat Free CRM is a Ruby on Rails-based open source CRM product which is lightweight, customizable and aimed at smaller businesses. Out of the box it comes with group collaboration, campaign and lead management, contact lists and opportunity tracking, but it can be extended with a number of plug-ins – or you can develop your own.
As the name suggests, Fat Free CRM eschews complex features and is designed to be simple to use with an intuitive user interface. It can be downloaded and run free, with source code available on Github. No commercial versions are offered.
Odoo is the new name for an open source business suite previously known as OpenERP. Odoo offers open source CRM software as well as other business apps including billing, accounting, warehouse management and project management.
The Community edition of Odoo CRM is available to download for free. The hosted version is available free for two users, and thereafter Euros 12 ($15 U.S) per user per month, including email support. A more comprehensive package that includes customization assistance and training materials is also available for Euros 111 ($140 U.S.) per user per month.
Zurmo includes standard CRM features like contact and activity management, deal tracking, marketing automation and reporting. What makes it different is that it also focuses on younger CRM users by offering gamification. This uses points, levels, badges, missions and leaderboards to encourage employees to use and explore Zurmo’s features.
As well as a free downloadable version, Zurmo offers a hosted version of its open source CRM that includes email and phone support, and integration with Outlook, Google Apps and Exchange, for $32 per user per month.
EspoCRM is a free Web-based open source CRM application that can be accessed from computers and mobile devices through a browser. Current features include sales automation, calendaring and customer support case management, with new features added every two months. Source code can be downloaded from Sourceforge, and support is available from a Web forum.
SplendidCRM is an open source CRM solution aimed at Windows shops. It is offered in a free Community version that includes core CRM features like accounts, contacts, leads and opportunities, a more complete commercial Pro version ($300 per user per year) that includes product and order management surveys, and an Enterprise version ($480 per user per year) with workflow, ad-hoc reporting and an offline client.
SplendidCRM also offers a hosted version for $10 per user per month for the Community version, $25 for the Pro and $40 for the Enterprise.
Other open source CRM solutions include:
Paul Rubens has been covering enterprise technology for over 20 years. In that time he has written for leading UK and international publications including The Economist, The Times, Financial Times, the BBC, Computing and ServerWatch.
Paul Ferrill has been writing for over 15 years about computers and network technology. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering as well as a MS in Electrical Engineering. He is a regular contributor to the computer trade press. He has a specialization in complex data analysis and storage. He has written hundreds of articles and two books for various outlets over the years. His articles have appeared in Enterprise Apps Today and InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, Forbes, and many other publications.