by March 3, 2011 0 comments



For every business customer management is the backbone, and there are CRM solutions both proprietary and open source available to do the task. As people are adopting open source software without much apprehension, the number of software available as open source is increasing at rapid pace, and so is the case with CRM solutions. Earlier organizations were focusing towards streamlining their business processes with ERP solutions, and once they achieved that they focused towards better customer relationship management solutions. To facilitate both, now even the popular ERP solutions come packaged with CRM modules, e.g. ADempiere ERP Business suite, Dollibarr ERP or OpenTaps ERP solution. In this article we focus towards two dedicated CRM packages only, which are open source.

In today’s competitive market it has become imperative to build and sustain relationships with customers, while keeping costs low and boosting the productivity. With CRM solutions you can achieve those. But when an organization is finalizing upon which open source solution to implement, the reasons for the choice comes down to the solution that will offer ease of implementation, support and documentation, and ability to customize the solution as per their need. Both SugarCRM and vTiger CRM packages adhere to these requirements and are targeted towards mid-size and small organizations, who want to have a CRM solution but can’t afford expensive proprietary CRM solutions.

Now we delve more into the features that both of these have on offer, and help you evaluate which one is more suitable for your business needs.




Sugar CRM

SugarCRM brings a feature-rich set of functionalities that help an organization improve its business performance through automating processes resulting in better sales monitoring and improving customer satisfaction. It has a Community edition which is freely downloadable and has a strong community backing for development and support, while with the premium paid Enterprise version you can avail full customer support along with the additional benefits like sales forecasting, reporting tools etc. It does not require a core technical team to support its deployment and installation. With its in-built web administration console and backup system, it makes the management of the application easy and user friendly. The core SugarCRM functionalities cater to various aspects of customer management in an organization, which include sales automation, marketing campaigns, project management, scheduling and many more.





Installation

SugarCRM is built on PHP and can support MySQL as well as Microsoft SQL Server as the backend database, while the deployment web server can be Apache or IIS. Therefore, as a prerequisite you need to install PHP, MySQL and Apache or IIS. Once you have these configured, then extract the SugarCRM package contents into a directory named ‘sugarcrm’ under the www folder of the Apache web server. Now start the server, and to initiate installation of SugarCRM, open a web browser and enter address as: http://localhost/sugarcrm. You should get the welcome page of SugarCRM web installation wizard.

This welcome page displays the information corresponding to required system components, system checks, and custom installation requirements. The rest of the installation is pretty simple, and easy, all you need to ensure is that you provide correct parameters for MySQL database user credentials and Apache server settings.

Features

Besides providing a user friendly interface to manage accounts, sales lead and other marketing activities, SugarCRM has a useful feature of integrating email and calendar information with Microsoft Outlook (only in Enterprise edition). It allows users to layout their page views as per their choice while providing useful dashboard widgets through which the users can keep track of their performance, upcoming activities and shortcuts. The marketing processes like channel campaigns, lead management, email marketing etc. can all be managed through the simple interface. It also supports sales force automation with plug-ins available to access the CRM through smartphones. It’s useful for employees who are always on the move. The solutions also has customer support feature where in customer queries and cases are logged and their movement can be tracked.




vTiger CRM

vTiger is an open source CRM solution which is a best fit for small and mid-sized organizations. It lets you implement companywide CRM and also includes inventory management activity. It is also backed by a strong community that provides upgrades and support for all. The package comes along with in-built tools that integrate with Outlook or Thunderbird, RSS reader, etc that helps in organization’s business productivity. With its user-friendly setup process and an intuitive user interface, the tool helps in enhancing productivity as everything can be simply done by just a few clicks. The focus is not only limited to sales, but also includes features such as market automation, analysis and reporting, accounts & more. This Web-based CRM helps enterprises in understanding their customers and internal processes through a proper work flow. It helps in building rapport with customers by organizing data. It supports employees in sales, marketing, customer support & services, etc.





Installation and Features

Unlike SugarCRM, the installation for vTiger is pretty straightforward and requiring no prerequisites of installing web or database server. All you need to do is run the installation wizard which comes pre-packaged with MySQL lite database and Apache web server; these are all installed and the vTiger CRM deployed by the wizard. So, once the CRM solution is deployed you can start using it through the web browser.

The striking thing about vTiger’s interface when compared to SugarCRM is that its well laid out and looks very simple to use, as there are drop lists for each category or activity. But it is the reports and graphical charts that sets vTiger apart from SugarCRM Community edition. The visuals displayed show various features of vTiger.

In conclusion

Though, SugarCRM is feature rich, in its Community edition, vTiger provides many features like analytics and inventory management for free. The process automation is covered well by both CRMs, but when it comes to easy of usability and user friendliness, vTiger holds the edge. Features like graphical analytics and inventory management shifts the opinion towards vTiger, as it provides more features than SugarCRM’s Community edition.

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