This article will detail a comparison between an Enterprise Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and an Open Source alternative. The Enterprise CRM is from the Microsoft stable, Dynamics 365, and the Open Source Webcurl CRM alternative, based upon SugarCRM, which we provide to our customers.
In my previous post I suggested that choosing an Open Source CRM, as opposed to an Enterprise solution, may be a better option when working on a tight budget. Whilst I would never claim that Open Source means free, after all there are associated services you will always pay for, a license free alternative does have its advantages as user counts start to mount.
So, what are the main areas of CRM? Account, Case & Lead and Sales forecasting would be the good place to start. Taking these areas as our starting point, how do they differ between Enterprise and Open Source?
You can see a typical account list view below based upon pre-defined filters. You have the ability to search across multiple fields and save the search results for later use if required. Both CRMs have differing styles but convey the same data.
The account detail screen is customisable and additional data fields can be added to both. The Webcurl CRM has chosen to display related data in a tab format whereas Dynamics 365 uses the horizontal approach.
Contacts are very similar. List views allows for displaying a pre-defined list based on search criteria, defining new searches on multiple fields and saving these searches for later retrieval.
Again, the detail views are very similar, both allowing for additional fields to be catered for within the interface.
Leads and Opportunities
Leads and Opportunities behave in a similar fashion. Leads can be converted to Opportunities in both systems. As well as creating the opportunity, associated accounts and contacts can also be created automatically on conversion.
As with all other detail screens the Opportunity view can be customised to display relevant information. Dynamics 365 also has a process driven ribbon which can be useful in guiding a user through a particular business process.
There is an emergent pattern here; whereby core CRM components operate in parity across both the Webcurl CRM and Dynamics 365 solutions. Activities follows this trend, where a host of Activities (Phone calls, Meetings, Tasks, etc.) can be assigned to a relevant CRM Entity (Account, Contact, Lead, etc.) and then also delegated to the relevant CRM user.
So where does Dynamics 365 excel in comparison to the Webcurl CRM alternative? Workflow is a staple of both systems, however Dynamics 365 does have advantages due to it's maturity within the market. This is countered, however, by the fact that many back office integrations will require custom coding in their live environment, rendering any improvements Dynamics 365 has as negligible.
The Dynamics 365 interface may also appear to be more familiar to veteran CRM users. Keep in mind, however, that once everything has been configured, both systems will achieve the same goals, and ultimately the most important consideration of a CRM is whether it is fit for purpose.
Portals are quite a new addition to the Dynamics stable. Whilst these do provide catered pre-built solutions, additional costs do apply, especially when you are trying to achieve something that is not readily available; e.g. interactive maps, interaction with custom entities, etc. The Webcurl CRM has a feature rich portal which is totally customisable, and can provide far better integration to your back office CRM data than any predefined template driven system.
So, is the Webcurl CRM a viable alternative to Enterprise solutions? Yes.
There is a growing trend to load Enterprise CRM with new features on a regular basis which ultimately results in a price hike. Whilst these features may not come out of the box in an Open Source alternative they can usually be added if required. My philosophy has always been; if you don’t need it, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Whilst this article has examined whether the Open Source Webcurl CRM can compete with an Enterprise Dynamics 365 at the core, our next article will focus on whether Customer Portals are only viable within Enterprise solutions, or whether Open Source CRMs compete in this market too.
Many CRM companies are building or purchasing portal add-ons to provide a fully integrated solution to their customers. Our ideology has always been to use the best tools to provide the best product. We utilise the best in breed software and communication channels to integrate data across systems to provide you with the best solution.
We believe Drupal is the best Content Management System (CMS) framework out there and, although people have tried to build CRM ecosystems within the framework, it will be never be as feature rich as Dynamics 365 or the Webcurl CRM solution.
Likewise, building a CMS within a CRM platform seems to be a half-baked solution too. So, next time we will ask: Build or integrate; the best solution?