The Best Open Source CRM Software for 2020

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Looking to give your business a shot in the arm with CRM software? There are plenty of products out there, but one category that often gets overlooked is open source CRM. Whether you’re familiar with the concept of open source software or not, don’t worry — we have you covered. Consider this your crash course on open source CRM software and the best products on the market.

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Best Open Source CRM


 

In this post, you’ll learn:

What Is Open Source CRM?

With open source CRM software, the underlying code, called source code, is made publicly available so that anyone can modify it. WordPress is a well-known example of the open source approach. Users can download a theme and then edit the code directly, adding features, customizing things like color and layout, fixing bugs and so on.

Open source software (OSS) spans all types of products and categories, and while CRM platforms are usually proprietary (think Salesforce), there’s plenty of open source customer relationship management software out there.

Contrary to what you might think or read elsewhere, “open source” isn’t synonymous with “free.” Yes, you may be able to use an open source CRM without paying, but that’s not always the case.

If a free CRM solution is what you’re after, check out our list of the best free CRM products.

Typically, open source software includes a license that dictates how people can use the software. The four main license types are:

  • Public Domain: There are no restrictions on using this code, though it’s essential to check for security issues before using it.
  • Copyleft: With this group of licenses, you can change the source code and distribute the resulting software, provided you use the same license. For example, if you modify someone’s code and use it for anything outside of personal use, you have to also make the code available so others can make their own changes.
  • Permissive: These types of licenses have the least amount of restrictions, making them the most common for open source or free applications.
  • LGPL: This license (GNU Lesser General Public License) deals with connecting a platform to open source libraries. Linking to the library is allowed and can be done with proprietary software. However, if you modify the library’s code or use part of it in your software, you’re subject to the LGPL terms.

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Exploring the Pros and Cons

To help you better understand if open source CRM would be good for you, here are some of the top pros and cons.

Advantages of Open Source

  • Cost-Effectiveness: While open source software (OSS) isn’t always free, one of its main perks is the lower costs associated with using it. You don’t have to worry about license fees or monthly payments just to use the software.
  • Security: By nature, open source systems offer more leeway in terms of what you have control over. Security is a vital element of any solution, open source or otherwise, but with OSS, you have the ability to put your own safeguards in place instead of receiving the vendor default.
  • Flexibility: Here too, you have complete say over how the system is set up and used. There’s no limit to what you can configure and customize since you have access to the base code. You can mold the software to whatever your requirements are.
  • Community: The open source community is large and supportive. There are plenty of online forums where you can turn to get questions answered or glean insights from what others have learned. WordPress is a prime example of this.

Drawbacks of Open Source

No software is perfect, so be sure to weigh the pros with some of the main disadvantages that come with using an open source solution. These include:

  • Lack of Support: Yes, there’s community support. But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive the technical assistance you need, when you need it, as you would with a vendor that has SLAs in place and employs a dedicated support staff.
  • Security: That’s right, security is also a con of OSS. Proprietary systems are developed with strict measures in place. Open source platforms, on the other hand, are a community effort, which exposes the code to the risk of hackers or other programmers who have illegal intentions.
  • Poor Usability: With open source systems, you’re more likely to run into an interface that isn’t designed to be as user-friendly as possible. A subpar user experience isn’t guaranteed, but it’s more likely than if you use a proprietary solution.
  • Slower to Implement: It typically takes longer to get up and running with an open source solution. That’s because OSS isn’t built to be ready off the shelf like proprietary systems are.

Is Open Source Right for You?

Ask yourself these questions to help determine whether open source customer relationship management software is a viable option for your business.

1. Do you have the technical expertise to support OSS?

One of the major premises of buying open source software is having full control over everything from security to customization. A small operation that lacks the resources to handle that level of technicality won’t get as much out of open source CRM tools as a larger company that has an IT department to take care of everything.

2. What’s your budget?

An obvious question, yes, but still an important one to consider. Are you looking at open source merely to cut costs? In that case, a free or cheap CRM may be more suitable for your needs, especially if you don’t have the infrastructure to properly manage an open source solution.

3. Will open source CRM provide something you can’t find in proprietary software?

CRMs, by and large, are packaged with the same types of features, but you may need something more unique. Perhaps your workflows aren’t easily supported by a CRM, or else the enterprise-grade systems that come with the necessary features or advanced customizations are too pricey. In that case, open source may be your best bet. The goal is to be clear on why OSS will meet your needs better than going with a traditional vendor.

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The Best Open Source CRM Software

Our research team has put together a list of the best open source CRM systems out there so you can make a smart choice for your company. Let’s take a look!

Odoo CRM

Odoo CRM enables small and medium businesses to capture customer data, efficiently manage sales processes and reduce workloads via task automation. Users get access to an impressive array of features, including contact management, live chat, email campaigns and templates, custom alerts, automatic lead assignment and integration with dozens of marketing apps to support lead acquisition efforts.

Deployment is available in the cloud or on-premise. All open source capabilities are provided in the Odoo CRM Community Edition. There’s also a non-open source Enterprise edition that offers advanced features like marketing automation, VoIP, PLM, accounting, a helpdesk and mobile apps.

Odoo CRM Pipeline

Odoo CRM presents pipeline data in a visual, user-friendly way.

What Sets It Apart

  • Odoo Suite: Odoo CRM is part of a suite of more than 30 open source applications connected to a central database, making it a good choice if you want additional capabilities like ERP, accounting, project management and e-commerce.
  • Pipeline Management: You can manage opportunities using a drag-and-drop interface, define sales stages for specific teams and create sub-stages for greater control of your processes.
  • Warehouse Integration: The integration with Odoo Warehouse is a helpful feature if you sell products. It supports the quotation process by enabling users to view product availability and request delivery orders. It also provides delivery status for tracking.

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Key Features

  • Dashboards: Pre-built and customizable dashboards provide sales insights and tracking of other KPIs. Filters let you share relevant data with team members.
  • Live Chat: Activating this feature on your website allows your sales reps to talk with visitors to increase their likelihood of converting to leads. You can configure chat rules based on pages or visitor geography.
  • Activity Management: With this feature, managers can stay on top of team activities. It also provides settings to structure how each opportunity passes through the pipeline and logs activities for full visibility.
  • Record Merge: You can ensure a clean database by merging any duplicate records. The system lets you automatically create contacts from leads as well.
  • Analytics: A wide range of analysis metrics makes it easy to keep a pulse on your business. You can track lead sources to determine ROI on marketing campaigns, monitor the health of your pipeline with grouping and drill-down capabilities, and pinpoint trends over time with historical analysis.

Limitations

  • It’s designed to integrate with a PostgreSQL database, making integration with other databases — such as MySQL — difficult.
  • Reporting features aren’t robust enough.
  • High volumes of data can bog down performance, making the system less ideal for large companies.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Vtiger

Vtiger’s open source solution enables improved decision-making and 360-degree data visibility and can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud. It’s best suited for small and mid-sized companies.

Vtiger’s open source edition lacks the level of functionality offered by its proprietary counterpart. If you’re after features like a calendar, lead scoring, sales forecasting, analytics and task automation, you may have better luck with another solution. But if core CRM capabilities are what you’re after, Vtiger is a solid choice.

Vtiger Contacts

View of a contact record in Vtiger.

What Sets It Apart

  • Vtiger 360 Mobile App: Mobile apps for Android and iOS let you view information in real time, receive real-time push notifications, edit documents, add voice notes, scan business cards and pinpoint prospects on a map. You can change records while offline and then sync those changes once you’re back online.
  • Team Performance: Managers are able to monitor and manage the sales team with this feature. It shows what reps spend their time doing and highlights actions that contribute to closed deals. This information helps managers coach their team members, optimizing overall sales performance.
  • Community Support: This aspect can be hit or miss with open source solutions, but Vtiger ensures you’re not left alone in your software journey. A community of users, businesses, partners and developers provides ample assistance with your needs.
  • System Extensions: If the core system lacks the functionality you need, you can find free and premium plugins, which are professionally developed, in the Vtiger marketplace.

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Key Features

  • Lead Management: No matter what channel leads are generated on (social, email, website, etc.), the system automatically distributes leads to agents using a range of criteria you set, such as deal size, location or agent availability.
  • Opportunity Management: It only takes one click to view information on an opportunity, such as forecast amount, related contacts and anticipated close date. You can attach quotes and invoices at the appropriate stage. Once a deal is closed, you can create post-sales projects.
  • Filtered Lists: Slice and dice your opportunity pipeline with this feature, which lets you pick any data from opportunities to build a customized list.
  • Automatic Lead Creation: You can embed forms on your website that will automatically capture leads in the system. The form fields correspond to identical fields in the CRM so you always get contacts with the necessary info, such as contact details, company size and industry.
  • Data Export and Visualization: You can take data compiled into a pivot table or report and export it as a CSV file. The solution also lets you create several types of charts that you can attach to a dashboard for real-time tracking.

Limitations

  • There’s no option to attach an email to a contact record if that contact hasn’t sent an email before.
  • Social media integrations are limited to Twitter.
  • User-based SLA policies aren’t supported.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

SuiteCRM

SuiteCRM’s open source solution uses a module-based design that allows companies to mix and match capabilities based on their specific requirements. Modules cover standard CRM capabilities like campaigns, cases, leads, target lists, a calendar, opportunities, tasks, emails, notes and calls. There are also modules for things like invoicing, product catalogs, events, project management, a knowledge base, quotes, accounts, system bugs and contracts.

The system is targeted at enterprises but can be used by companies of any size, and it comes with cloud and self-hosting options. A responsive layout ensures optimal viewing across desktop and mobile devices. If your company operates internationally, the system helps adhere to GDPR.

One nice thing about SuiteCRM is its SuiteASSURED package, which provides the perks of proprietary software (including dedicated customer support, security, custom development consulting, and warranties) without sacrificing the benefits of using OSS.

SuiteCRM Dashboard

The dashboard in SuiteCRM (version 7.10).

What Sets It Apart

  • Workflows: You can create business rules that trigger actions when certain criteria are met, letting you automate common CRM tasks.
  • Real-Time Sales Reporting: A dashboard offers at-a-glance insight into your sales pipeline, and you can create custom reports in the advanced reporting module and then pin those to your dashboards.
  • Developer Tools: The Studio feature provides the tools you need to customize how modules are displayed and what information they show, as well as create new modules. You can configure things like layouts, tabs, fields and module relationships.
  • Advanced Search: You can save time when looking for specific information with the ability to conduct your search across all deployed modules. There’s also a global text search feature for locating information in documents.
  • Security Management: If security is a key requirement, you can rest easy. SuiteCRM offers additive security and group inheritance to ensure appropriate levels of access for everyone. Admins can set permissions that restrict access on a user-by-user basis or allow specific groups to view sensitive information.

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Key Features

On top of the modules that form the backbone of the system, there are several other notable features that make SuiteCRM a strong choice:

  • Customizable Front Page and Menu: The ability to customize your page provides a quick summary of the most essential data. You can add dashlets that contain reports, charts, lead information and other details, as well as separate them into multiple tabs for better organization. SuiteCRM also lets you configure menu items so the most important modules are easily accessible.
  • Add-Ons Manager: If you want to extend the system’s functionality, this feature has you covered. Use it to install and manage the 100+ add-ons that are available.
  • Rest API: Integrate with other applications, such as an ERP software or marketing automation platform with this feature.
  • System Settings: This feature allows you to configure settings such as theme, activity streams, languages and currency across the whole system. You can override several default settings as well if they don’t fit with your organization.

Limitations

  • There isn’t a native app.
  • No lead scoring module is included.
  • Multi-language support isn’t offered for PDF and email templates.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

YetiForce

Another popular open source CRM software, YetiForce offers modules for administrators and users, a native email platform, advanced configuration options and a mobile-responsive design. Its tools support essential marketing and sales processes, projects, and group work, making it suitable for businesses of any size. You can expand the free version by adding custom premium modules.

YetiForce also provides extensive capabilities for managing contacts and companies. A group of six modules is available for handling leads, vendors, partners, accounts, competitors and contacts.

YetiForce’s support options are a strong point in its favor. Agents will install and configure the system if desired, and YetiForce has a support team that prioritizes requests from paying users as well as keeps tabs on their GitHub account to provide technical assistance to all users.

YetiForce Home Page

The home page view in YetiForce.

What Sets It Apart

  • Advanced Widgets: This feature is great for gaining a visual overview of processes and metrics. It offers module summaries and prebuilt widgets that display things like a calendar, leads and tickets. Admin tools let you choose which widgets are visible and apply filters to create new widgets, with advanced configurations that ensure you can quickly view the data you want.
  • Sales Functionality: Nine individual modules provide a robust sales toolset that covers everything from price books and sales orders to opportunities and sales requirements. Dashboard widgets enable sales reps to work through the sales process in an effective manner.
  • Charts: Graphs can be created using filters to gain greater data insights. You can modify the settings and pull in data from over 50 modules for a comprehensive view.
  • Customization: Choose which modules to implement and make changes to those modules to better fit your needs. In addition to customization, you can structure how the modules should relate to each other.
  • Ticketing: You can provide full-fledged customer support via the ticketing module, which includes a customer portal for monitoring or submitting tickets. Automated notifications make it easy to keep track of ticket updates, such as when a new ticket is created, changed or closed.

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Key Features

  • Opportunities: This module is where you’ll track leads through your pipeline. It serves as a place to store information about your sales process and compile sales data, which you can use to conduct analysis and generate reports.
  • Calendar: Two elements make this feature stand out. It has the option to color code entries and you can change the display to a list of records. It also includes all the standard calendar features like sharing and multiple viewing choices.
  • Lead Segmentation: This feature lets you divide leads into different buckets using a range of criteria like status and location.
  • Calculations: Need to create quotes? Look no further. You can use this tool to create several kinds of quotes or compile several elements into a single quote. It lets you create a document attachment to send to clients so they can look over the quote details.
  • Records Restoration: We’ve all accidentally deleted something we didn’t mean to. But with this feature, you don’t have to worry about losing that info. The system has a recycle bin, the same as you’d find on a personal computer, where you can restore deleted records from.

Limitations

  • The reporting functionality isn’t sufficient.
  • No native app is offered.
  • The system doesn’t include lead scoring.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

OroCRM

Last up on our open source CRM list is OroCRM, which offers a well-rounded set of features ranging from lead management and reporting to dashboards and workflows. It can be hosted in the cloud or on-premise and offers prebuilt components that can be modified to create enterprise-grade web apps.

A mobile-ready design ensures a good user experience when using the system via a web browser on tablets or smartphones. It also offers access management tools so you can define permissions for each user, based on role. You can modify the access settings as needed and assign multiple roles to a user.

OroCRM is best for e-commerce, wholesale, retail and financial services companies, and can be whitelabled for OEM businesses.

OroCRM Analytics View

Analytics panes in OroCRM.

What Sets OroCRM Apart

  • Reporting and Analytics: Enterprise-level reporting is built in and provided via a reporting engine. With it, you can measure things like website revenue and conversion rates. It also facilitates pipeline tracking.
  • RFM Analytics: These tools allow you to perform recency, frequency and monetary analysis to identify your best customers. This information, in turn, helps you create targeted campaigns that will be more effective.
  • Marketplace: OroCRM can integrate with dozens of third-party tools, including Magento, Amazon, MailChimp, Zendesk, EBay, Mandrill and Full Contact. The platform can also connect with many common business platforms to create a more cohesive ecosystem within your company.
  • Email and Google Hangouts: You can track emails, view calendar events, and communicate with prospects and customers using integrations with Hangouts and your email client.

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Key Features

  • Contact Management: In addition to offering a central place to manage contact info and interactions, this feature ensures duplicate-free records. It does this by auto-syncing updates across profiles, associating customer data across channels and merging accounts.
  • Lead Management: With the ability to gather lead and opportunity data throughout the pipeline, you can build forecasts and track progress against goals.
  • Performance Dashboards: Configurable dashboards let you measure KPIs and gauge how well your business is performing. You can measure campaign performance, close rates, email marketing conversions and more.
  • Workflows: The ability to create workflows according to best practices within your company helps teams stay organized and supports marketing activities, sales processes and other tasks.
  • Custom Fields: This feature ensures you can always capture the data you need by adding fields that fit your processes.

Limitations

  • Lead scoring isn’t supported out of the box.
  • There’s no native mobile app.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Where To Go From Here

As we’ve seen, open source software is a viable option to meet your CRM needs. Determining if it’s right for your company depends on several factors and whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. We’ve looked at the top open source CRM solutions, but what’s next?

The best place to start a product comparison is with your requirements. You can’t settle on a shortlist without first knowing which features you need to look for. If you want to simplify and streamline that process, grab our free, customizable requirements template for CRM.

Why are you looking for open source software? What are the pros and cons of open source CRM for your business? Drop a comment below to let us know!

Zachary TotahThe Best Open Source CRM Software for 2020

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