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Summary:

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 […]

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?

  1. I would put more faith in Zoho CRM. Seems to be pretty similar feature set to Splendid, they offer free service for up to 3 accounts, and they don’t warn you like Splendid’s clause: “understand that this service is provided for evaluation purposes and that the data will not be guaranteed in any way.

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  2. Good point about Zoho CRM, and I like many of their free tools. They put strict caps on how many people can use an app for free, though. Zoho CRM limits you to three users, and if that’s all you need that’s great. In the case of CRM apps, though, I think the utility of them often becomes most clear when larger groups are sharing database-centric information. That’ s where lots of workgroups of larger size can get a lot out of Splendid’s offering.

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  3. I agree with Bob when talking about great online CRM products. One of the biggest benefits of Zoho’s CRM is that they have many other great online tools as well. And to Samuel’s point, Zoho may have strict restrictions on numbers of users, etc but they do provide and outstanding service for what it is. When a user outgrows it, it might be time to look for a commercial CRM product.

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  4. Another vote for Zoho. To add to what Jesse said, when you do need more than 3 users, you can still use zoho. I find that the tool is extremely flexible and most importantly, the zoho team is very responsive to feedback.

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  5. The screenshots of SplendidCRM look exactly like SugarCRM – I wonder what the relationship is…

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  6. @AARON

    AFAIK, SplendidCRM is yet another fork of SugarCRM.

    You may want to check vTiger that got nice – and opensourced – tools/add-ons for Thunderbird, Firefox, Office and Outlook.

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  7. [...] leads, bugs, activities, documents, and tasks, and even lets you set up an employee directory. Web Worker Daily has a fairly detailed overview of the service, which it says is essentially an open-ended database, one that can be used for more than just [...]

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  8. Wesley Ashworth Thursday, October 11, 2007

    I’ve been using Longjump for a couple of weeks and love it.

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  9. [...] Worker daily has just posted a good article on Open source CRM tools which will help you track the [...]

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  10. System integrators and other technology professionals – particularly those that deal with small businesses – are always on the look-out for comprehensive reviews of affordable software, hardware and other products. The small business market in particular is really lacking in products specifically designed for it (and affordable and to-scale for small business owners!). I think the availability of break-downs of different products is getting more as opportunities within the small business arena for solution providers grow, but still it’s nice to see some analyses coming out – slowly but surely – about different useful programs.

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