Zurmo Releases Beta Open Source CRM Application

Zurmo has launched a beta version of its gamified Open Source CRM software, which Zurmo's community manager Stafford McKay describes as "following a [test-driven development] methodology for coding that's as robust and as clean as you can possibly get."

Under development for the past 19 months, Zurmo is the brainchild of McKay, cofounder Ray Stoeckicht, and Jason Green, cofounder and lead architect, who are all part of the leadership team at Intelestream, an open source enterprise applications developer and professional services firm.

With Zurmo, "our idea has been to build an app that would be fun to use and encourages and motivates people [to use their CRM]," McKay maintains. "Gamification...is trending. It's new. But, as a [business] strategy, it has proven itself."

Unlike similar applications, the company wanted to develop gamification as a core element, rather than groom the system for plug-ins, McKay says. Within Zurmo Open Source CRM, users not only have the freedom to use the gamified structure to accomplish business goals, like winning an opportunity or closing a sale, but also to enhance their use of the application itself— like rewarding them based on how often they're logging in to the CRM or updating the contact record.

Currently the gamification element is tied to sales force automation in feature sets and functionality, but Stoeckicht says the company will eye integration with email marketing tools down the road. Enterprise functionality is also on the roadmap, but McKay says the company wanted to get gamification down pat first.

Zurmo boasts a detailed view of the user's contact record and is integrated with Google Maps for contact location. To reduce the number of clicks, users will find themselves directly in the edit view of a note instead of having to enter a notes subpanel. "The UI just rocks," said McKay. "It's...easy on the eye and it looks modern and new."

Zurmo has taken a macro and micro approach to its gamification feature set. The individual user can use the "My Profile" feature to manage personal information like passwords, as well as monitor where they rank in weekly, monthly, or overall experience points, which dictates what level they're at. "You also have categories [that show] where your points are coming from," Stoeckicht explains. There are badges awarded for specific business goals such as winning opportunities, and for system usage (like the "NightOwl" badge for power employees who log in to their CRM after 9 p.m.).

Managers and users can challenge teams to complete specific tasks, which help users accrue bonus points if they successfully complete them. There is a leaderboard to encourage friendly competition within an organization, which displays top performing users for those essential bragging rights, which add to the social and gamified experience.

"Even though CRM is supposed to be a centralized database, people are still individually working within that central system," McKay notes. "We wanted to break down those barriers."

Next on the agenda for Zurmo is developing a social, Facebook-like activity feed where users can see the status of people working on their team. There are also plans to build out questions and polls within a social thread where other users can vote or make comments.

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