Bitrix24 is a business collaboration tool available both in cloud and on premise, which also has project management and CRM functionalities. Due in part to its Free Forever version – that has almost all the key features – Bitrix24 is enjoying rapidly growing popularity.
- Free Trial: Yes (in addition to the free plan, there’s a 30-day trial for both standard and professional versions)
- Mobile friendly: Yes (mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices)
- Ideal for: SMBs, large enterprises
- Training required: No
- Lead capturing through web forms: Yes
- Mass import/export: Yes
- Email marketing: No
Who is it for?
Bitrix24 is ideal for SMBs that have their workers distributed across multiple locations. It’s particularly useful for companies which offer project oriented services to their clients, and want to manage their projects, clients and employees from the same page.
Who is it NOT for?
Bitrix24 has a decent CRM, but it lacks in certain areas that we’ll discuss shortly. So, businesses that do not need collaboration tools because their team is based at one location, but need a powerful CRM, should consider any of the other feature-rich software such as Capsule, InfusionSoft or OnePageCRM.
How popular is it?
Bitrix23 has quickly become very popular and is already being used by more than 500,000 organizations; that’s very impressive considering the software was launched just three years ago (April 2012). Their customers include almost all types of companies from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, including well-known enterprises like Xerox, Samsung, Volkswagen, KIA, Gazprom, Vogue and PC Magazine.
Areas where it excels
- A great, free forever plan
- Facebook-like simple and beautiful interface, easy to learn
- One software to manage everything from customers to projects to employees to partners and more
- Available in cloud as well as self-hosted versions
- Great collaboration tools for teams located at different geographic locations
- Impressive access control for both internal and external users
What are its weaknesses?
- Too many menus and modules can be overwhelming for small businesses
- Not very customizable
- The integrated CRM isn’t as powerful as Salesforce, InfusionSoft etc., but conversely, these CRMs don’t offer several other features found in Bitrix24
- Rather complex pricing structure for self-hosted plans
Creating a free account to test drive Bitrix24 is very simple. Just enter you email address and you’re good to go – no lengthy forms, no credit card required. You can also import contacts, companies, leads and deals, in CSV format. The provision of custom fields means you won’t have to miss out on any fields when importing data.
Bitrix24 signup form
Bitrix24 has a very good, well-thought-out workspace, but might be a bit overwhelming initially. The interface is beautiful and easy to use; and gives the feeling of a modern cloud based software application, especially after recently experiencing the windows-based interface of ACT! CRM. Not great.
The good thing about the work area is that it makes doing complex things easy and you can do everything from communication to telemarketing to contact management to time tracking to files haring, all from one place. Communicating with your team members is very simple thanks to the Facebook-like social features such as commenting and liking. Automated processes such as notifications, assisted reporting, and subscriptions to groups and discussions are icing on the cake.
Bitri24 Workspace features an interactive Activity Stream
While the overall work area is totally impressive, it has many features, several of which a small business might never need. So, a provision to choose only the features essential to you, just as one sees in Zoho CRM, Salesforce etc., could make life easier for the users.
The free forever plan, which offers nearly all the key features, is probably the biggest reason behind the Bitrix24’s growing popularity. In addition to cloud-based versions, Bitrix24 is also available as self-hosted system for large enterprises for a one-time fee. They also offer 15-50% discount for web studios, educational institutes and non-profits, while some additional features such as Telephony cost extra. Here’s a quick overview of the different pricing plans:
Self-hosted versions, one-time fee:
- BizPace: $3,299
- BizPace Enterprise: $9,990
The data for both free and paid users is backed up daily, however, the vendor restores the data for only paid users. If you’re a free user, you’ll have to buy the software for at least one month to get your data restored.
Bitrix24 offers customer support through a ticketing system only, in case you don’t find the solution to your issue in their FAQs, Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, or Video Tutorials.
While the ticketing system has its benefits, their wait-times are considerably long: up to 16 hours if you’re Standard/Professional plan user or 32 hours if you use a free plan. For self-hosted versions, the wait-time is up to 24 hours if you’ve an active subscription for technical support and updates (or if you are a Bitrix Partner), or 48 hours if you’ve no active subscription for your product copy. Absence of phone support means you can’t do anything but wait for a response to your ticket.
- Intranet and social network
The Social features of Bitrix24 make it unique. To offer the user ease of communication, Bitrix24 proudly copies the interface of Facebook. The intranet can be used for task management, document sharing, time tracking and more.
Whatever you or your teammates do, appears on the unified, interactive Activity Stream in real-time, again pretty much like the Facebook. Each user can customize the Activity Stream to see only the relevant posts. Users can not only comment on the activities that appear on their stream, but they can also like activities. Based on the number of likes, more popular content gets high priority in search results.
Other features of Bitrix24 social network include conversations, badges (awards given by the management to motivate workers), announcements, photo gallery, and work flows (Leave Requests, Business Trips, Expenses, Purchases, General Requests).
Bitrix24 also features a contact management system, which lets you manage and interact with your potential and existing clients, partners, agents and other contacts. The CRM module is fairly feature-rich yet it isn’t one of Btirx24’s strong points, in fact it lacks several key features such as social media integration.
CRM has an exclusive Activity Stream, but it lacks several features such as social integration
In addition, all events including phone calls, messages, and meetings related to a contact or company are easily logged and further interaction can be planned. Other utilities allow you to create reports, import/export contacts, carry out analysis, and to perform segmentation of the target audience as precisely as needed. Just like the main activity stream, CRM also features an exclusive stream that enables notes, emails, tasks, meetings and phone calls to be initiated on any object or objects in the CRM from a single point.
Other CRM features include reports, sales funnel, dashboards, quotes, invoices, and options to make calls or send emails to individual or group of contacts. CRM can be integrated with several third-party apps including Mailchimp, Xero, Dropbox, and Helpdesk.
- Task and project management
Bitrix24 has extensive organizational features for task and project management. Tasks can be created and assigned to others, and the management can view the status of current tasks. The only minor glitch we noticed is that tasks are not closely connected to CRM system and we couldn’t figure out how to link tasks to contacts or companies.
The built-in calendars of Britix24 are very useful and offer some interesting options. Calendars can be public or private, you can schedule events (that automatically appear on relevant users’ calendars), and the management can see workers that are on leave through the Absence Chart. Calendars can also be integrated with CRM and all scheduled events such as customer meetings or follow up phone calls are automatically imported to calendars in Bitrix24.
Project management features of the product are embedded in the ‘groups’. The project management works in a unique way: you’ve to create a new workgroup for every new project. External users can also be granted access to their relevant workgroups. The good thing is that all tasks, files and conversations are consolidated onto one page, however, we couldn’t find any workflow automation.
- Files and documents
Bitrix24 can integrate with Google Docs and MS Office Online, so you can create documents even if you don’t have an office suite. Document collaboration is easy as documents appear on the activity stream and other workers can comment on or edit the document, and give feedback. A detailed change log of the version history is also maintained. You can also export documents and files to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and other cloud file storage vendors.
- Group chat and video conferencing
The options for real time communication, group chat and video conferencing are the reasons why Bitrix24 prides itself in being a “social” intranet. It has RTC tools, from instant messaging and group chat to phone calls, mobile messaging, video calls and videoconferencing.
And we leave the best for last. Bitrix24 has really impressive telephony features completely integrated into their CRM. It’s cheap (even cheaper than Skype), easy – no setup required, and powerful – you can call practically any number in the world as soon as you start your Bitrix24 cloud instance. You can make calls directly from the CRM through a secure, high-quality connection, even record the conversation, with the audio files appended to the clients record.
You can call any mobile phone or land line, domestically or internationally. You don’t need any special IP-telephony equipment, you can call from your Bitrix24 portal anywhere where there’s a reliable internet connection. There are loads of advanced features, too. From queueing calls, to call forwarding and transfers, Greeting/On hold messages, call source tracking, call quality evaluations.. it’s all there and more.
Bitrix24 group video chat
These features really make Bitrix24 an ideal solution for companies that have workers located at different geographical locations but need to interact frequently.
- HR Tools
Another commendable module of Bitrix24 is a human resource management system (HRMS). The system has almost all the key features, from employee directory and a self-service portal to leave management and work reports. It also offers time management, work reports, self-service and workflow automation, access permissions, and collaboration extranet for letting external users, partners, clients, contractors, etc. interact with your employees.
- Other features
Other features of Bitrix24 include email management system (with unlimited email space, antivirus, antispam), and a comprehensive telephony system. Some additional features such as helpdesk and web forms are available for only self-hosted versions.
If these features suit your particular sales and marketing environment, Bitrix24 comes highly recommended.
September 8th, 2014