I’m looking over the market at Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.
First what are the aspects of a CRM?
The term is a bit vague, and fairly abused, so that it has come to mean, generally, “business applications” including those used for sales & marketing, enterprise resource management (ERP – another abused term), business contact management, order fulfillment & shipping, billing & invoicing, trouble ticketing, and even sometimes e-commerce or accounting.
Of course part of the problem is that you want all these systems to work together, so many vendors offer some or all of these features in one application or suite of applications. This is especially true of the big vendors, Oracle/Siebel, SAP, and Microsoft but also true of smaller vendors who sometimes try to shoehorn one application inside another.
The core elements of a CRM include:
- customer & account data
- customer issues and interactions (sales, support, etc.)
- customer intelligence & reporting
Prospective customers are often included as well, which ties in with sales and marketing.
The big commercial CRM solutions are, as stated above:
A big player that offers CRM software as a service (SaaS) is:
Other SaaS vendors:
There are several other commercial enterprise vendors:
Open source CRM is getting increasingly popular, though often the term “open source” is abused. Some major open source CRM applications:
SugarCRM is the big Open Source CRM system. It is written in PHP and uses MySQL database. There is a basic open source edition, and non-free Professional versions. Sugar offers hosted solutions at sugarondemand.com and a number of third party
vTiger was originally a fork of SugarCRM. It has sense gone it’s own way, and is a good product in it’s own right. My impression is that e-commerce companies tend to look to vTiger while more traditional businesses prefer SugarCRM. This may have to do with the technical savvy of the the IT staff of the different types of companies, with ecommerce shops naturally having a broader IT expertise.
SplendidCRM is a .NET CRM offering written in C# that is also open source. Microsoft IT shops, or companies that integrate with other .NET and Microsoft products (i.e. SQL Server) should investigate this.
OpenCRX is written in Java, supports many databases, and has a featureful API. For JEE performance, it’s a good solution.
CiviCRM is based on Drupal, the PHP content management system (CMS), and targets nonprofits and associated volunteer and donor networks and compaigns.
Additional Open Source applications that offer CMS features:
Smaller commerical CRM offerings & SaaS:
I’m looking to add to this list.