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Summary:

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications are emerging as some of the best available applications for on-demand use. There are few applications that you can access within a browser that are more immediately useful. While many web workers use fee-based applications such as Salesforce.com, there is a […]

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) applications are emerging as some of the best available applications for on-demand use. There are few applications that you can access within a browser that are more immediately useful. While many web workers use fee-based applications such as Salesforce.com, there is a growing crop of free alternatives. In this post, I’ll round up two of these that are worth looking into.

If your web work in any way involves dealing with customers, then the free, open source application Compiere may be what you’re looking for. Truth be told, it may actually be more than what you’re looking for. Compiere is robust enough to work as a full-blown ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) application. That means it can handle most central electronic business processes including tracking and integrating orders, invoices, records of sales interactions, accounting records, human resources data, and all aspects of CRM.

If that sounds like overkill for your purposes, I’ve actually found Compiere to be neat and tidy enough to just use subsets of it in useful ways. For example, a small workgroup could easily use it to track orders, invoices, and sales contacts—without getting involved with the rest of the application. It beats building out your own custom database by a long shot, and it’s very stable and reliable.

Compiere is Java-based and users can access information in it from their browsers. It has an interface that Windows users, in particular, will be instantly comfortable with. Jumping from an order to a sales record for the customer who placed the order, for example, feels a lot like navigating within modules in a Windows-based database application.

If you’re looking for a free application that’s focused more exclusively on CRM and that you can learn to use extremely quickly, see my previous post on Splendid CRM Splendid CRM, like fee-based applications such as Salesforce.com, stays squarely focused on customers and your interactions with them. It’s hosted on the web, so workers can access it from anywhere, and it integrates with nearly every popular database.

Because these are free, open-source applications, it’s essential to be meticulous about doing regular data backups. One of the big advantages of paying for a CRM solution or an ERP solution is guaranteed data protection. If you’re meticulous about your backups, though, one of these free applications may do what you need and then some.

Finally, several readers of this blog have posted that they get a lot out of Zoho CRM. I don’t regularly use Zoho, and you should note that the CRM offering is free for a maximum of three users, but it definitely has a loyal user base.

Do you currently use a CRM application or other useful application for tracking business processes?

  1. Compiere is indeed a powerful SMB app, but I’d say it’s primarily ERP (showing the Founder’s SAP roots) and as such an overkill if all you want is CRM.

    I’d also venture to say that most SMB’s are better off with an On-Demand CRM system than with one that needs to be installed, even if Open Source. It still needs to be maintained, updated..etc – for many small businesses that probably don’t even have IT stuff, the TCO of on-premise “free” software may exceed that of a SaaS alternative.

    Your other example, Zoho CRM is still only $12/user/months after the 3 free seats – a fraction of Sforce ..etc. Btw, I previously argued that despite it’s name it’s actually  more than just CRM: with Sales Order Management, Procurement, Inventory Management, Invoicing functionality Zoho seems to have the makings of a CRM+ERP solution, under the disguise of the CRM label.

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  2. You left out the Sugar CRM. Sugar CRM is finally released under the GPL license for it’s next version.

    -Jeff
    http://edmodo.com

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  3. Hey Guys!
    vtiger too provides CRM with Inventory support and more. It is truly open source.
    vtiger is actively working on its 5.0.4 release due shortly. Do have a look.

    http://vtiger.com

    Richie

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  4. hey, what about Highrise? it’s bloody amazing, i use it for keeping track of recruitment agents (i’m a contractor) and the interface is lovely.

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  5. I’ll have to check those out. I’m looking for something which can be integrated into a website that would allow clients to:
    -view their past invoices / reports in relation to specific assets that a company maintains (in this case horses)
    -See when their horses are scheduled for next visit and be able to request adjustment + / – days for that.
    -Preferably PHP integration with WordPress for single user data entry.

    If anyone has seen anything which sounds close to this, would love to know about it. I am close to the point of saying I cannot find something close to that and going to start developing my own version as a plugin to extend WordPress.

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  6. Pipelinedeals.com is the one I use. It’s free up to a certain number of projects and then it’s $15/mo. It’s very simple with a limited number of features–exactly what an independent developer needs. I definitely recommend it.

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  7. [...] Free CRM Apps: Nothing to Shake a Stick At Hosted CRM Contact Management Solutions for Individuals and Small Teams Review: Kyliptix Free CRM [...]

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  8. ZOHO CRM is excellent! Would highly recommend Zoho CRM. thanks for the good article.

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  9. [...] 14th, 2008 (11:00am) Mike Gunderloy 5 Comments We’ve looked at several free CRM (Customer Relations Management) packages in the past. Now there’s a new entrant in the [...]

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  10. Thanks for the article!

    A bit old a post to be adding to, but I’ll add one more to the mix –

    http://www.simplesalestracking.com

    Low cost and Easy to use. Made a big positive difference to our sales team/efforts.

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