Ricky Bracken is President & CEO of SaleManager Merchant Services. SaleManager provides enterprise class payment solutions to small and mid-size businesses.
has written 3 articles for SB Informer.
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Open Source CRM for Small Business
May 14, 2009
|4.7/5.0 (10 votes total)|
Today, small and mid-size business
owners are using open source CRM software to help streamline their business
processes with the expectation of generating more sales opportunities.
Open source CRM solutions should be able to manage existing customers,
facilitate prospecting, generate online sales leads, launch and track marketing
campaigns, analyze customer needs and preferences, integrate with existing
applications and provide secure access to company data from any computer with
an Internet connection and a browser.
Here are a few keys to selecting the
right Open Source CRM solution:
- Ensure the open source CRM software you choose has the
ability to capture all relevant customer and sales related
information. At a minimum, your CRM solution must be able to
easily record all interactions with your customers. One of the major
benefits of CRM software is in its ability to help collect, store and
share data to all appropriate areas in your business -- in real-time.
- Before you deploy an open source CRM tool you must
first understand your existing sales and marketing workflow.
Your CRM tool must be able to integrate with your existing processes or
your sales and marketing team will not use it.
- It is imperative to understand the level of
customization you will require. Do you have the required technical
skills on staff to implement modifications? Does the CRM tool
provide an API (application programming Interface) for extending the
platform? Will custom changes prevent future upgrade options?
Answering these questions in advance will save you time and money
- Determine if the CRM tool can integrate with
applications used by your staff. For example, you must know whether
the CRM tool can share or exchange data with your email client (e.g.
Outlook or Thunderbird). You must also know if the CRM tool
provides an easy to use import or export function for data mining and
other sales analysis functions.
- Determine the level of support you will require.
Most open source providers make their money on service and support rather
than software sales. Therefore, you should investigate the various
levels of support provided by the open source vendor.
- Research the level and quality of third party
extensions. Quite often companies are able to find free or low
cost extensions and avoid the expense of internal development. Third
party extensions can add needed functionality and save your business time
and money. For example, third party payment
modules have become a necessary component for accepting electronic
payment at the point of sale.
While there are many open source CRM
products to choose from here are my top five:
- XRMS CRM
Be sure to test drive multiple open source CRM
tools before deciding which open source CRM application to deploy.