Software

Five open source tools to help you manage your customers

Jack Wallen has found five tools to make your customer relationships more efficient and flexible.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tool that many small, medium, and large businesses depend upon for the efficient management of clients and customers. Without these tools the ability to keep solid records and communication with external resources becomes a challenge that can immediately affect bottom line. The good news is you don't have to spend a fortune to have a powerful tool to keep your client base happily connected. The open source community has plenty of web-based CRM tools to that run the gamut of features and power. I have found five such tools to make your customer relationship efficient and flexible. Let's take a look and see if one of these tools fits your needs.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Five apps

1. X2 CRM

X2 CRM is a powerhouse of a tool that offers features such as: email marketing campaigns, web leads capture, and route leads based on business rules. With X2 CRM you can also engage and correspond with prospects, price and generate sales quotes, and easily define your sales process, reports, and charts. It also provides a powerful administration tool with mobile client applications. With X2 CRM you can either purchase a hosted solution or install the software on your own, internal hardware.

2. Sugar CRM

Sugar CRM might well be one of the most widely used CRM tools on the planet. Used by Chevrolet, Coca Cola, Loomis, and more - Sugar CRM has all the tools you need to ensure the efficient management of customers. Sugar offers a Community edition that, along with being open source, features: Personal home pages, activity management, contacts, accounts, project management, campaigns, web-to-lead forms, dashboards, cases, email client, email marketing, leads, opportunities, bug tracking, and a shared calendar.

3. Dolibarr

Dolibarr may not be the most well-known CRM tool, but it offers everything you need to make the management of your customers a snap. Dolibarr features: products and services catalog, stock management, bank accounts management, customers directory, orders management, commercial proposals, contract management, invoice management, invoices and payment management, standing orders, shipping, NRP VAT support, agenda, and much more. Dolibarr offers an incredible simple installation routine and can have you up and running quickly.

4. Vtiger

Vtiger is proud to enjoy over 2.8 million downloads. This CRM tool focuses on sales force automation, customer support and service, marketing automation, inventory management, calendar and inventory management, product customization, reports and dashboards, and much more. Vtiger is seriously powerful and offers some of the best product support in its category. Vtiger uses over 20 modules to help expand the already large feature set.

5. OpenCRX

OpenCRX is another powerhouse CRM solution that combines groupware and CRM in one outstanding package, And with an easy to use, Java-based installer, OpenCRX is a solution nearly any small to medium-sized business should give a serious look at. With OpenCRX you can manage your customers, accounts, products, sales, calendar, and more. OpenCRX does a great job of managing activity and tracking sales and offers plenty of customizations to make it easily fit within your business.

Bottom line

There is no excuse to not take advantage of one of these powerful Customer Relationship Management tools. If you're serious about growing your business and making the relationship between your business and your customers a smooth one, you need to give at least one of these CRM tools a try.

Also read:

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
defisa
defisa

Some of them is not Open Source any more. There is a good open source product on the market http://www.espocrm.com Would somebody recommend a social CRM?

dgbillotte
dgbillotte

Is there any reason that OpenERP/Odoo wasn't included? It seems like a good tool on par with these others, but I'm still learning about them.

chriswakare
chriswakare

How do these stack with respect to the emerging social crms like nimble etc?

M TALCOD
M TALCOD

I don't know a lot of CRM tools but as I work at a French Web and Open source agency (TALCOD), I do know well CiviCRM. Customers are quite satisfied with the management tools we build and base on it, so it could be a great tool to suggest.

M TALCOD
M TALCOD

This list is quite interesting, but maybe you could add CiviCRM. As I work in a French Web and Open source agency (TALCOD), I do know CiviCRM and customers are really satisfied with the management tools we build and base on it.

mZoo
mZoo

This is a really helpful article. We're looking for a system for Academy Fence Company and are currently using a custom e-store and OpenEMM for newsletters.

davidwgilmore
davidwgilmore

I just installed Dolibarr a few days ago. I'm starting an IT consulting business ad liked how it has modules for services and not just products. So fr so good. I can't say wheter or not this one is clunk or not because I've never really used a CRM package before. Plus ther really is no "sales force" for me - just me keeping track of my time and services for my clients

grh
grh

I just looked at them all and they look like they have been designed by a team of monkies working in different rooms. Maybe you could get used to them after a while but man...the complex interfaces are totally non-intuative. But that's just my opinion.

raysto999
raysto999

We launched 1.0 last month and were featured on Sourceforge last week. Zurmo is an open source CRM written in PHP utilizing JQuery, Yii, and RedBeanPHP and relies heavily on test driven development. Right now, we have 1700+ unit tests running across eight server configurations. Check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks, Ray Co-Founder http://zurmo.org

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

I think I must have worked with almost every database on the planet sometimes. I've designed, managed, used and tweaked products from most paid systems, Goldmine, Maximizer, Act, Access, FoxPro, Microsoft CRM, TigerPaw etc. etc. etc. While some are clearly better than others, some offer very industry specific tools that are invaluable to the company using it, such as using TigerPaw with the Telecom package. I have also been forced to deploy or use many open source offerings, each and every one of them falling flat in comparison to paid products. Just like all the database apps for mobiles, most seem to be designed by an IT department that has no clue what a sales tool should provide, though I am sure many are collaborative with so called C-Level "business management experts". Right now I use SalesForce, which I tried only 3 years ago and absolutely hated. It has a few bugs and limitations but nothing as poorly designed as SugarCRM. I actually think Sugar CRM MIGHT be one of the worst CRM solutions I've ever used though. The workflow is completely backward, the reporting system is basic at best but web integration is it's selling focus, though all the others do that very well now also. I actually can't think of anything good to say about Sugar, now that I really consider it, good riddance! Their key selling point is mobility and given the number of absolutely USELESS mobile offerings available, it may prevail on some mobile platforms. I just managed to beg the company to ditch it, after pointing out the many shortcomings with respect to sales management, which they finally did! YAY! The only reason major corporations are using Sugar is due to mobile collaboration, not because it offers a strong set of tools, it doesn't have anything others don't have and it certainly isn't more intuitive for fast training of teams that have used other solutions. I know several managers at CocaCola (aka Grey Beverage up here) and while they encourage their teams to use it for mobility, in house they prefer to use a customized Access DB that they have had for a decade and just import data collected from Sugar into Access. I think the only problems I have with SalesForce now are due to the really poor layout limitations of Sugar CRM though that the IT department just couldn't find ways to merge for me. The IT manager just left my office right now, wondering why another set of records as split up, it's just not merge friendly at all. Sure you have to pay for Sales Force and most others I actually find useful for a sales team, but there's a clear reason for that. The developers of open source software don't seem to have ANY idea what is really needed to not only track clients but to manage the team and data as well, they all fall short for reports in a big way. When I was consulting for sales teams, I used to redesign company logos and branding, rebuild databases and marketing materials, web sites etc. to bring the company into the new millennium, as a result I quickly found faults and limitations with most of the open source and even many paid solutions. My take now is that, if you are going to TRY and run a professional sales team, not some half baked group of unskilled yahoos, running around pretending to be making sales calls, but a planned and carefully executed sales plan with professional sales reps, spend the bloody money and get a real CRM solution. You can waste months of time working out new ways to make Sugar CRM or X2 work for you but it's not worth the wasted time and effort in the long run.

Gisabun
Gisabun

The good old days use to mean that ther product is free. Goodbye to those days. 3 of 5 mentioned aren't free.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What apps and tools do you use for customer relationship management? Do those tools work well for you or are you looking for something better?

mred69
mred69

Many "open source" tools (CRM and others) are combined open source / commercial products. The free open source versions are commonly called a Community Edition, and the commercial versions have additional features and are often called Enterprise or Pro Editions. You might wish to re-check to see if you are getting the the free open-source Community Edition or another edition.

downtoearthman
downtoearthman

The free solution always take more time to deploy and learn. Time is money, so any way you look at it, nothing is really free. Sugar CRM is open source and it's a great tool. That's what I'm going to use.

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