How Star­tups and SME’s Can Lever­age Open Source CRM To In­crease Busi­ness

Of­ten CRM is looked upon as a vi­able tool for larger busi­nesses and en­ter­prises while SME’s and Start-ups of­ten view it as a con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment

Dataquest - - CONTENTS - (The au­thor is CEO of En­jay IT So­lu­tions)

While CRM has proven its ver­sa­tile po­ten­tial for large en­ter­prises in ar­eas be­yond sales, mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer ser­vice re­quire­ments, it is yet to make its con­tri­bu­tion felt among the start-ups and SME’s who cur­rently rely largely on the ERP soft­ware.

Open source CRM is a fi­nan­cially and tech­ni­cally vi­able so­lu­tion com­pared to ERP for start-ups and small en­ter­prises. While ERP as­sists with main­tain­ing es­sen­tial busi­ness data and records, CRM can help in vi­tal data man­age­ment, anal­y­sis and pre­dic­tive in­sights into key busi­ness ar­eas like mar­ket­ing, cus­tomer en­gage­ment, sales, ven­dor re­la­tion­ships, em­ploy­ees and tal­ent man­age­ment and train­ing, thus con­tribut­ing to the over­all busi­ness growth.

AD­VAN­TAGES OF US­ING OPEN SOURCE SOFT­WARE

Cost: Open source CRM is a good so­lu­tion for SMEs and start up’s to achieve busi­ness suc­cess at re­duced ex­penses. With avail­abil­ity of the source codes and ab­sence of a li­cense fee, the open source CRM is vir­tu­ally free and re­quires a min­i­mal in­vest­ment into hard­ware, cus­tomiza­tion and in­te­gra­tion.

Qual­ity: De­spite be­ing de­vel­oped by com­mu­nity, the open source CRM soft­ware in re­cent years boasts of a rig­or­ous in­spec­tion and qual­ity as­sur­ance process. Nearly all new re­leases and sta­ble ver­sions are ex­posed to a bat­tery of tests for soft­ware qual­ity be­fore be­ing launched. In­te­gra­tion &Cus­tomiza­tion: With the avail­abil­ity of a source code, open source CRM en­ables or­ga­ni­za­tions to

develop cus­tom­ized char­ac­ter­is­tics and in­te­grate them into their ap­pli­ca­tions. Fur­ther, in­te­gra­tion with other open source soft­ware and tools is also fa­cil­i­tated so as to cre­ate an im­pact­ful tech­no­log­i­cal frame­work that can drive busi­ness.

Con­ve­nience: With sim­ple li­cense man­age­ment with­out ex­piry date, a ded­i­cated sup­port com­mu­nity plat­form and dis­cus­sion fo­rums to share con­stant up­dates and iden­tify and re­solve soft­ware glitches and bugs, open source CRM of­fers sim­ple user ex­pe­ri­ence. Ad­di­tion­ally, with free ac­cess to source codes, up­dated ver­sions and easy cus­tomiza­tion/ in­te­gra­tion op­tions fur­ther add to the con­ve­nience of open source CRM

PROM­I­NENT OPEN SOURCE CRM IN IN­DIA -Su­garCRM

Founded in 2004, Sugar CRM has over 7,000 cus­tomers and more than half a mil­lion users world­wide. Eas­ily one of the largest open sources CRM in the world, Su­garCRM of­fers ver­sa­tile func­tion­al­i­ties in­clud­ing sales-force au­to­ma­tion, mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, cus­tomer sup­port, col­lab­o­ra­tion, Mo­bile CRM, So­cial CRM and re­port­ing. While Su­garCRM has re­leased no open source edi­tions since early 2014, its ear­lier com­mu­nity ver­sions con­tin­ued to in­spire other open source soft­ware, namely Suite CRM, Vtiger CRM and SarvCRM.

-SuiteCRM

Suite CRM is a pop­u­lar fork of Su­garCRM and was launched as the lat­est ver­sion of the Su­garCRM in Oc­to­ber 2013. In a short pe­riod of its ex­is­tence, it has won sev­eral awards and has been adopted by re­puted clien­tele, in­clud­ing the Govt. of UK’s Na­tional Health Scheme (NHS) pro­gram. Suite CRM is an en­ter­prise-class open source al­ter­na­tive to pro­pri­etary al­ter­na­tives and of­fers a se­ries of ex­ten­sion for both free and paid-for en­hance­ments. Prom­i­nent ad­di­tional mod­ules avail­able with SuiteCRM in­clude Teams se­cu­rity, Google Maps, Outlook Plu­gin, Prod­ucts, Con­tracts, In­voices, PDF Tem­plates, work­flow, re­port­ing and Re­spon­sive Theme. (3)

RE­QUIRE­MENTS TO LEVER­AGE OPEN SOURCE CRM

Test­ing: While open source CRM is freely avail­able, it takes a lot of pa­tience and a con­sis­tent trial and er­ror ap­proach to fi­nally close in on the per­fect open source CRM soft­ware with the right mod­ules and ex­ten­sion. Of­ten SME’s and Start-up’s give up on this ex­er­cise quite early on and end up with ei­ther an ill per­form­ing CRM soft­ware or no CRM at all.

Or­ga­ni­za­tional com­mit­ment: With the long list of ad­van­tages, fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits and af­ter a long trial and er­ror process, whenopen source CRM soft­ware is fi­nally adopted, there are still chances it may not be able to de­liver the de­sired re­sults. This could es­sen­tially be due to lack of com­mit­ment among the man­age­rial level to im­ple­ment the CRM. A strong will to make the on board­ing process prompt and mean­ing­ful is the first step to cre­ate an equally com­mit­ted work­force who is will­ing to learn and use the open source CRM to full po­ten­tial.

Ex­pert con­sul­tant: While the need and ad­van­tages of open source CRM are quite ev­i­dent, it takes more than the avail­abil­ity of re­sources and man­age­rial com­mit­ment to op­ti­mally lever­age open source CRM. An ex­pert con­sul­tant can help trans­form the free open source CRM soft­ware into the most valu­able busi­ness tool through in­sights into right in­te­gra­tion and cus­tomiza­tion as well as ex­tended ap­pli­ca­tion. In or­der to make a mark in the rapidly evolv­ing busi­ness ecosys­tems, an open source CRM adopted with the guid­ance of an ex­pert con­sul­tant can be vi­tal to en­sure the CRM tech­nol­ogy is op­ti­mally uti­lized to drive growth.

CES­SA­TION

Thus, with low cost of own­er­ship, in­creased ROI, no li­cens­ing, con­ve­nient and in­tu­itive in­ter­face, easy in­te­gra­tion with third-party mod­ules, se­cure ac­cess to CRM data, highly flex­i­ble and user­friendly mod­ules, open source CRM is a strate­gic busi­ness en­abler for SME’s and Start up’s, de­liv­er­ing value across ver­ti­cals.

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