CRM (customer relationship management) software has exploded in popularity in recent years, and there are probably many web workers who have already used popular applications such as Salesforce.com. However, Salesforce.com and other on-demand (Web-based) CRM applications cost money, even though there are some perfectly good applications available for free. In this post, I’ll discuss my personal favorite on-demand CRM application, Splendid CRM, which is an open-source application that is completely free.
Splendid CRM is hosted on the Web, so it’s available on demand no matter where you are, as is true of Salesforce.com and other CRM applications. It comes in a free trial version that you can use on a no-cost basis for as long as you want, but do note that with the free trial version, Splendid CRM will not guarantee the protection of your data. A separate Splendid CRM Professional Edition is $2,000 for 10 users. The open-source, free trial version is fine in my experience.
You can sign up for Splendid CRM in under two minutes and start building out data on your contacts, upcoming meetings, sales leads, sales campaign targets, and much more. The application is very good at reminding you about everything from meetings to follow-up phone calls, to project reminders. There are numerous tabs atop the application, so you can switch from viewing contacts, to looking through leads, to working with your calendar, etc. Also, it is essentially an open-ended database application, so you don’t have to use it for just sales or managing customer data. Any workgroup can customize their own type of database application in Splendid CRM.
Splendid CRM can also produce very spiffy, useful graphics. This one shows an aerial view of a whole sales pipeline for a project, sorted by what stage various parts of the project are in:
The current release of Splendid CRM integrates with numerous databases, including SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005, Oracle 9i, Oracle 10g, IBM DB2 Express-C 8, IBM DB2 Express-C 9 and MySQL 5. The latest version also allows system integrators to add user-customizable features to the application, using technologies such as AJAX. You can also view demos of the product online.
Users of the free version of Splendid CRM should definitely be meticulous about doing regular data backups. However, rarely do you find a really sophisticated, database-driven application online for free, and Splendid CRM is the product of lots of muscular effort from the open source community. If you’re web work involves anything to do with customers, give it a try. Even if you just use it for one, targeted database application, such as maintaining a shared employee directory with phone numbers, contact info, and job descriptions, it will do the job cleanly and nicely.
Do you have any tips on CRM or other on-demand applications?