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”.