Sweet on Customers
CRM is another potential growth area for open source. In fact, Zachary of The 451 Group views it as one of the major trends in the open-source world, along with software as a service. Good examples of these two trends are Salesforce.com in SaaS and SugarCRM in SaaS and CRM. "Both of these trends are in response to what has been monolithic CRM software sold in large sums to enterprise customers," Zachary says.
Other popular open-source CRM offerings include SplendidCRM from SplendidCRM Software, Concourse-Suite from Concursive, and SugarCRM offshoot Vtiger. Some of the open-source enterprise resource planning vendors such as Compiere and Openbravo include CRM features with their ERP products.
Healthscreen Solutions, a Toronto medical records, billing and patient-scheduling software and services firm, began using SugarCRM in 2005 to track sales to its doctor clients, forecast future sales, and manage its operational and sales workflows. About 100 employees use the CRM application in some way each day.
"Without SugarCRM we could not have achieved a high level of growth," says Martin Ross, Healthscreen vice president of technology. "Our entire back office runs off it." The software's reporting module and dashboard give the company critical business metrics that would be too onerous to collect manually.
Integration with other systems is both easier and more necessary with SugarCRM than with commercial CRM products, says Ross, who explains that "it is more necessary since SugarCRM is not yet the dominant player, so prepackaged connectors to other products are rarer" than they are for offerings such as Salesforce.com's CRM.
However, integration and customization are more flexible compared with proprietary offerings, Ross says. For example, Healthscreen uses JIRA, a Web-based bug-tracking and issue-tracking application from Atlassian Software Systems. Building links from JIRA to SugarCRM took some time, but Ross claims it wouldn't have been possible using Salesforce or Microsoft software.
Because Healthscreen has a professional license for its CRM software, it receives support when needed from SugarCRM. From a corporate culture standpoint, adopting SugarCRM has had no impact, as many of the company's employees have been using open-source products for years, Ross says.