Open Source CRM Gaining Traction
I just finished reading Bill Snyder’s July 2 article on PC World (the same article was originally published by CIO on June 30) titled “Open Source Delivers More Control, Less Cost.” This article is more compelling proof that businesses, large and small, are shifting to open source CRM because it’s a superior way to run an organization. From giants like H+R Block to six-person operations, the commercial sector now is well underway in giving up cumbersome, closed and expensive CRM systems like SAP, Siebel and even Salesforce.com.
The reasons for this shift are varied, but come down to three key advantages:
- Cost – Open source CRM does not require prohibitive upfront investment and the related risk. In addition, choice among vendors and service providers ensures the best pricing (i.e., you are not locked into your vendor for all changes and services).
- Control – According to Matthew Carson, CTO of a streaming media firm with 500 customers in 77 countries, “Control is a big issue. You want to be able to write the (CRM) system around your business model, not the other way around.” Amen. Your software should not drive your business.
- Ownership – Kurt Miller, president of a six-person business chose open source CRM over alternatives like Salesforce because, in his words, “No matter what happens, I control my own data.”
We are seeing this exact same trend among nonprofits, large and small, for the same reasons. In fact, as illustrated above, some of the most common arguments against open source CRM are being patently disproved by the diversity of open source success in the market.
One argument I often hear is that open source CRM lacks the robust features and functionality of closed, proprietary systems. This is a myth propagated by closed CRM companies’ sales and marketing machines. While different products certainly have different features and strengths, Orange Leap Open is every bit as powerful and robust — and more powerful in many key areas — as the leading nonprofit CRM solutions.
But, don’t just take my word for it. Consider the assessment of Keith Heller, Founder and Principal of Heller Consulting, the nation’s leading technology consulting firm with a specialization in helping nonprofits use Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge®, which is one of the most common donor databases in the philanthropic sector: “No product matches Orange Leap’s native features in enabling nonprofits to conduct highly complex segmentation to deliver the right message at the right time through the right medium.” And, since we are open source, you can download Orange Leap to see for yourself.
The second argument I hear is that small organizations with limited or no IT resources will find open source CRM too complex. That is simply not true. As seen above, organizations with as few as six employees are reaping the benefits due to the cost, control and ownership of data. To quote Matt Asay’s comments July 2 on CNET, “Does this mean that the only way to benefit from open source CRM (and other open source enterprise applications) is if you’re a technology-savvy shop? Of course not. Most don’t need to tweak the code, and never will. But even those who don’t, benefit from those who do.”
Matt’s quote from an earlier post aptly sums up why the closed, proprietary model is in such trouble:
No decision is best made blindly. No product is best defined, designed, and implemented in an information/feedback vacuum. Opening up source code means customers can place greater trust in the software they use even if they never read a single line of code, precisely because others can exercise this choice in their stead.
I could not be more excited about what lies ahead for nonprofits as the advantages of open source CRM are realized. Openness, transparency and collaboration have long been hallmarks of the work that charities do in their communities and around the world. Isn’t it time you held your software to the same standard?