A case for Open Source - Part 1

Here at Webcurl we like to give our customers choices. Whilst we are dedicated Open Source enthusiasts, we understand that enterprise solutions have their advantages too. With the reduction in budgets, especially in local authorities, maybe now is the time to consider the switch to Open Source.

A Case Management solution usually consists of a CRM and some form of Web Integration to allow customers to self-serve their accounts, often referred to as Channel Shift by Local Authorities. The choices available are, a large enterprise offering, from the likes of Microsoft or Salesforce, a bespoke solution or an Open Source alternative.

The first option is often the first thought in people’s minds. A large company is financially stable, large Research & Development budgets resulting in the best products and sustainable solutions with longevity in mind. The last point being of particular importance as, CRM deployments generally don’t come cheap.

But is this thinking actually true? Without doubt they are financially stable but is buying enterprise software a guarantee of future proofing your investment. As an example, Microsoft recently announced their newly acquired portal technology would no longer be available for their on-premise CRM customers, as they are presumably pushing people to use the online version. Whilst the acquisition of the ADX studio portal software by Microsoft may have been seen by its customers as further future proofing their investment, this has actually had the inverse effect as presumably new functional releases will now no longer be available.

And what will happen to Northgate’s front office customers? The recent announcement withdrawing support for the product must bring into doubt the sustainability of currently deployed systems.

Enterprise solutions often come with hefty price tags and, if you use the ever expanding features provided by these vendors, is often good value for money. The problem with this occurs when you don’t need all the offered functionality as there is often no scaled down alternative to choose from.

A growing feature list comes with an ever-increasing license cost, but this does not always need to be the case, especially with an Open Source alternative.  New leading-edge technology is frequently released in the Open Source world at little to no additional cost.

At the beginning of this article I said there are cases for enterprise CRM. Webcurl, being a Microsoft CRM partner, regularly recommend Microsoft’s enterprise CRM to our customers. By Coupling this with our home grown Portal technology, we can also expose our customers Dynamics 365 data to aid in the self-serve/Channel shift process.

In conclusion, I think there is a case for both enterprise and Open Source Case Management solutions. Whilst enterprise has a lot of features it often comes at a cost and a cheaper, targeted, fit for purpose solution might be a very good alternative.

In the next article I will be discussing the options available to enterprise customers and describing an Open Source alternative built on best of breed Open Source software.


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