• April 15, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Low-Cost, Open Source CRM

SugarCRM plans to release a new version of its hosted software suite on Monday at a fraction of the cost of on-demand CRM services from Siebel Systems and Salesforce.com. The company is adding a slew of customer-influenced proprietary applications in version 3.0 (only months after releasing Sugar Suite 2.5), which is available for $39.95 per user, per month. Salesforce.com's hosted service, however, starts at $65 per user, per month. Yankee Group Research analyst Sheryl Kingstone says the added functionality in the new version should help SugarCRM get more attention from cost-conscious CRM buyers. "You've got to take a look at what you're getting for $39.95 a month, and you're getting a lot," Kingstone says. New enhancements and functionality within Sugar Suite 3.0 include marketing functionality, sales forecasting, wireless support, and campaign and project management. "Project management is a perfect example of incorporating our customers' needs," CEO John Roberts says. "Project management isn't traditionally a CRM module, but it just kept coming up over and over again from our customers. If you really do think about it, it does make a lot of sense. It's a valuable tool for organizations and the customer representatives in those organizations." The suite also incorporates lead, contact, and account information; opportunity, task, email, and case management; calendaring, call scheduling, meeting planning, note tracking, customizable dashboards for real-time insight into business activities, and default and custom reporting. It also includes Sugar Collaborate, an additional module for the Sugar Sales, Sugar Marketing, and Sugar Support suites that adds specific project tools like document management, employee directory, and calendar synchronization. Roberts credits its open-source community for driving the innovation. "We get so many more innovative ideas from our open-source community than you will by looking at older, proprietary software," Roberts says. "Those ideas are exactly what's driving our product line. I think it enables us to be much more innovative than trying to think up everything the world needs ourselves." This helps the company focus more when it comes to product development, he says. "When you can focus 80 percent of your revenue on research and development, that's a much more effective way to produce an effective product," he says. "We believe in the best products, not the best sales and marketing." While Kingstone acknowledges that open-source technologies are gaining momentum among SMBs, she warns that small companies may not be as willing to write code for an on-premise, open source application. "They just don't have the time," she says. Still, Roberts claims that smaller companies can get free trial runs, which enables them to "get to know not only SugarCRM, but CRM in general." Related articles: SugarCRM Customizes to the Client With Sugar Suite
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