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CRM for Small business

Posted on 2011-02-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Which will be in your opinion the best Open Source CRM for a small business (less than 20 employees)  why? Do you know where to find an unbiased comparison  for this  topic (on the web everything looks like propaganda)?
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Question by:pksplus
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7 Comments
 
LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 34873903
Microsoft makes a great small business stack which happens to include a very useful open-source CRM.

http://www.microsoft.com/web/

If you want just the CRM, it is called SugarCRM, but for MS servers (and you posted in the SBS group) I find the MS stack to be easier to install and configure than following guides written primarily for linux junkies.

-Cliff
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Expert Comment

by:naughtynat
ID: 34881690
One thing to note, CRM takes time and money. From my experience with small business (usually undetermined 10) they are not aware of all the costs associated with setup, configuration deployment and training that is required.
I also think it depends an what you want to do as well with the software.
A lot of people think wow have to spend 10k on licenses, why not go open source. Well questions is how much time are you going to lose getting the open source product upto where it is usable?
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Author Comment

by:pksplus
ID: 34884408
Oh you are completely right in fact I was looking for a light CRM that I could add  on my VPS and share with around 5 of my clients, though I will take care for management and configuration while delivering only the frontend to them, without any administration responsabilities.
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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 34893372
Heck, at that point I'd find a partner and resell their service. Maintaining a CMS, especially for multiple clients, introduces a significant burden on YOU for uptime and such. Plus, with multi-tenant plans, I'm sure client A won't be happy to see client B's contact data or vice-versa, so that actually increases the setup complexity. Even though you will be "hiding" that complexity from your customers, you still have to implement it and that gets ....pricey. Having been down that road, it is *very* difficult to set something up and offer the service at a price the customer can afford and still turn a profit for you.

Partner with a company that does this though and you get a percentage...basically near-free residual income. I'd strongly urge you to consider this iotion instead.

-cliff
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Author Comment

by:pksplus
ID: 34893713
Sure I would also agree with that, however the question would be again which CRM do you recommend?, independently of who will provide the service.
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LVL 58

Accepted Solution

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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
ID: 34899953
No right answer there. I have partnerships with 3 different SaaS providers and each has their strengths and weaknesses. A golf-course/country-club client of mine has very different needs than a local day-spa/tanning-salon client of mine, so they are on diffrent platforms.

My honest suggestion is to sign up for a few, get to know their feature sets, and then choose the one that matches your customer's needs based on conversations and evaluations you've had with that customer. This accomplishes a few things:

1) You won't be pidgeon-holed into just my (or other EE suggestions.)
2) You get a better idea of fulfilling client needs (no one-size fits all in this space)
3) You may discover a "new kid on the block" service that no recommendation here would have come up.

...That last one is *very* important. I've built a very successful online backup business because so many of my local competitors were stuck in the status-quo. I found a new service, formed a partnership, and was able to bring something truly unique to market that nobody else here had. If I had relied on EE for suggestions, I'd never have reached that new market.

While it is good to learn from others' mistakes and gettings suggestions on some things (best practices, etc) is worthwhile, sometimes you just have to go it alone as well, and this is, in my opinion, one of those times. Part of being in business is doing the legwork and getting the experience, and you can't shortcut that.

Anyways, I'm off my soapbox now. Good luck!
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Author Closing Comment

by:pksplus
ID: 34940120
He provided good suggestions, I will follow them, though did not answer the question. I would not add this to the knowledge base.
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