But this grassroots movement has already assumed cult-like status with major backers from IBM to astro-entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Sun has also made Java fully open source. With this groundswell of support, CRM Open Source solutions will find themselves in the mainstream sooner rather than later.
The open source contender to Microsoft Office – Star Office/Open Office, is steadily eroding Microsoft’s market share as it proves itself a reliable, capable alternative.
What makes OpenSource products attractive are their price, depending on how the Open Source Foundation (OSF) price models are applied. Open Source products are ostensibly free. But there is a hidden price tag. Support is not that readily available, and comes at a cost. Your choice of software is still rather limited and a proficient IT person/team is necessary if you are to fully benefit from open source software.
So, approach with caution. Our ‘small business’ instincts are probably more tuned to the word ‘FREE’ than others, and Open Source CRM solutions could end up being a case of ‘false economy’.
If you are going to need to customize your CRM software, however, as is often the case, there is strong justification for going the Open Source route. Proprietory CRM software can be difficult and expensive to customize as the source code is not readily available, if at all. And using their in-house development services could end being extremely costly if you are not careful.
If you do opt to have a proprietory CRM vendor or one of their VAR’s (Value Added Resellers) do your customization, ensure your CRM specification is thoroughly thought through, right to the last full-stop!
- Read How Small Businesses Can Leverage Open Source CRM Technology.
- For information about Open Source generally, go to : OpenSource.org
- For the largest download repository of Open Source products, visit: SourceForge