We are not joking around with Open Source

The short version: Most Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications are not fully functioning CRMs because they usually lack Reporting and Workflow. CRMs without these two features are useless. We want people to get value out of Zurmo. So we’re adding functionality that is usually available only in paid, Enterprise editions. Why? The current model teases people and insults our intelligence. We want people to take Zurmo and make it better. We want there to be a tool out there that’s easy to work with and to develop. By building software so a lot of people will use it, we’ll benefit by supporting it. That’s why we’re including all these features like Reporting and Workflow for free.

The long version: If you’re looking for a joke, watch a Jim Carry movie. Dumb and Dumber fits the bill. If you are looking for Open Source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that’s along the same lines of ineptitude, just do a Google search. You have a bunch to pick from. Call them “teasers”. Call them bait and switch. Call them whatever you’d like. Just surely don’t call them full functioning CRM systems. I am serious. And please don’t call me Shirley.

When it boils down to brass tax, certain CRM features separate the men from the boys:

Reporting. CRM is virtually useless without real analytics. Creating campaigns based on segmentation, having a handle on your sales pipeline to project growth, identifying the behavior of current customers and how their needs can be better met – these are a small handful of key items you need to have in order to come anywhere close to achieving a Customer Relationship Management strategy.

Why are we including Reporting in Zurmo Open Source? If you and your coworkers can’t run reports, then you will not see the purpose of CRM. If you can’t run reports with Zurmo, then you won’t see the purpose of our software. And if you can’t see the purpose of our software, then what’s the use of even building it?

Workflow. A major part of CRM is automation. No, we’re not talking robots here. We’re talking about you being able to do your job well without getting caught up in mundane, time consuming minutia. 40% of sales representatives’ time is spent with customers. That means 3 out of 5 business days are wasted on administrative dung – most of which could be avoided through the use of a good CRM workflow engine that triggers automatic activities like sending out email reminders, managing your schedule, and alerting the right people on a team when a customer does X, Y, or Z so that they are taken care of and happy.

Why are we including Workflow in Zurmo Open Source? Fact: If CRM isn’t saving you time, its adding time. There is no middle ground. Your team needs to understand that the tool will make their life easier or else they won’t use it. Period.

See a common thread here? We want people to get value out of Zurmo. We believe CRM systems that don’t include Reporting and Workflow are usually counter productive.

Mobile Access, Email Marketing Functionality, Social CRM, Gamification. The list of full features that we are including in Zurmo Open Source goes on and on. You will not find another Open Source CRM application that is freely available, based on original code, and so simple to develop.

We’re working on this stuff as we speak. Feel free to keep up with our roadmap and check in on our progress. We have made a ton of headway, but we’re still scaling the summit. Look for Reporting and Workflow in 1.5 (currently scheduled for release in early 2013 – but you know how development land can be).

Okay, but why? The model has traditionally been along the lines of  ”tease them with a light Open Source Edition”, then show them the only way they can really get value out of the system is by upgrading to a paid Enterprise Edition. Oh and while you’re at it, switch the licensing around and ladle on all kinds of conditions so software engineers have their hands tied.

We don’t think this has really worked so well over the past few years. Developers have felt cheated, abused, and less likely to want to build cool extensions and customizations on top of software when the license holder doesn’t share their common ethos. At Zurmo we want people to take what we’re building together and make it better. We believe this to be the only way we can have the kick ass software we’re striving to achieve. We help the community. The community helps grow the software.

What’s in it for us? We’re not doing this for our health. We’re doing it because we believe CRM has failed the majority of end users who deep down believe it to be a useless management tool. We’re also doing it because as CRM consultants and product developers, we want there to be a powerful tool out there that’s easy to work with. We’re spending tens of thousands of hours developing this application and making it freely available. No, we don’t have a money tree growing out back. But with the help of our contributors, the project is catching on and we’re proving to the world that Zurmo is emerging as the rock star of Open Source CRM applications. Our thinking is pretty straight forward. We build software that a lot of people will use and then the people who built it will support it.

So to circle fully back to cheesy 90′s cinema, we’ll close out this blog post with a classic that we’ve been saying a lot around here: “build it and they will come”.

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  • http://twitter.com/Andrew_Bernat Andrew Bernat

    I’m really fascinating about Zurmo approach to Open Source. It’s sounds great you give opened product for each who wants get it and make it better for own clients (it can be done better? ;-)

    • http://visuex.com/ Michael Tunnell

      actually this is not a new approach…this is how Open Source is meant to be done but it is very impressive that a CRM company has decided to embrace Open Source the way it was meant to be done.

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  • http://www.nicwindley.co.uk/ Nic Windley – Biz Dev Strategy

    Some great (and needed) additions to Zurmo. I’d like to know what quoting functionality is included, will be developed or what tools you will be integrating with to allow quotations (including product data and their suppliers) to be included into the workflow ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ray-Stoeckicht/100001473956853 Ray Stoeckicht

      We are working on the Product/Product Catalog right now. That will be the precursor to the Quoting Module which will be in a future release. You can see what is on the Development Roadmap here: http://zurmo.org/roadmap

      If Product data needs to be integrated with the CRM, you can always use the API to connect external systems: http://zurmo.org/wiki-subject/api

      • http://www.nicwindley.co.uk/ Nic Windley – Biz Dev Strategy

        Thank you for that clarification Ray and yes that was exactly what I was thinking in terms of using the API. Glad to hear it. Will setup a test install and have a play.

  • http://visuex.com/ Michael Tunnell

    This is EXACTLY the way Open Source was meant to be!

    Development Benefits of Open Source:

    1. Company releases a product as Open Source.
    2. Community Developers use product as their base for their own projects. In the process, creates custom modules/extensions.
    3. Community Developers thank the base product Company by converting their modules/extensions into universally usable extensions to include with the CRM or as public extensions.
    4. Product becomes better and better thanks to the efforts of both the Company and the Community.

    Financial Benefits of Open Source:
    1. The more and more Development Benefits occur the more and more reason regular end users have to use the product.
    2. The more people using the product the more Support Subscriptions are sold.
    3. The more subscriptions are sold the better the product becomes.
    4. The better the product becomes the more the Development Community care about the product and the more they contribute.
    5. The more the community contributes the better the product gets, the more subscriptions are sold, the more people promote the product.

    This is how Open Source is meant to be done and sadly most people don’t realize the benefit of this system both in development and financially. I am very happy to find a company, especially a CRM project, that realizes the power of Open Source. Thank you for joining the Good Fight!

    The more Open Source products there are…the more communities will improve them and eventually the fewer and fewer garbage products there will be.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ray-Stoeckicht/100001473956853 Ray Stoeckicht

      Well summarized Michael! You hit it right on the head.

  • Marie Talcod

    That’s a great article. I don’t know a lot of CRM tools but as I work at a French Web and Open source agency (TALCOD), I do know well CiviCRM and that’s a great open source solution. Customers
    are quite satisfied with the tailored CRM tools we build and base on it, and
    that’s also efficient for emailing, contact management, etc. That’s a
    great solution to improve structures’ and corporations’ governance. I do believe that open source solutions have a bright future.

    • Ray Stoeckicht

      Thank you for the kind words! Good to hear from a fellow open source enthusiast!

  • disquised

    So Zurmo can be used for free? is it a donation based product? or is it a commercial prodcut based on open source technology

  • Pingback: Zurmo adds Reporting and Workflow to Roadmap, Announces Enterprise Class CRM Functionality will be available freely as part of Open Source CRM | Jokes TV

  • Luiz Eduardo Monteiro

    Amazing, i m really fascinating with Zurmo too. Would be very important to start build connectors to softwares like WHMCS, OpenCart, Magento and etc… there is a ruge market around this software levels that will start using CRM software on next years.

  • lotophagi

    It actual does feel like a bad joke. After a long awaited VOIP integration, Zurmo only includes it as a premium feature. How many startups looking to use Open Source can afford $99 per month per user? It should really be enough to charge for support, and deployment/hosting.

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