Free: A Year of Open Source CRM

By Lauren Simonds | Posted August 25, 2008

If you've been thinking that CRM software could really boost your company but the cost and complexity has you in a holding pattern, then consider the latest news from Concursive, a company known for developing open source CRM. The company now offers its on-demand ConcourseSuite 5.0 CRM software free of charge for up to 100 people for one year.

The ConcourseSuite is a hosted, on-demand solution that combines CRM capability, online presence management, marketing, team collaboration and customer service in a single platform. It offers lead-, project- and document management along with Web site authoring and content management.

The company has always offered a free, five-person version of the suite available on its site for downloading, and will continue to do so. But Michael Harvey, Concursive's executive vice president said the company wanted to do more.

"We wanted businesses to have a CRM system without any user constraints," he said. "Ninety percent of companies have fewer than 100 employees, which means nine out of 10 businesses in the U.S. could give each employee a CRM seat at no cost.


Harvey added that, "We hope that after one year, you'll want to buy it." If you do like it, the subscription rate costs $50 per person per month to continue.

Harvey added that the ConcourseSuite is an enterprise-level product, the type typically available only to larger companies. "Five years ago, we're talking a million dollar investment that just wasn't available to small businesses," he said. "Today, this is the same tested, trusted, fully-functional software that once belonged only to companies with deep pockets."

Buying the IT infrastructure required to run an enterprise-level CRM system, plus the cost of personnel to maintain it is simply something that most small businesses can't afford. Because the ConcourseSuite is an SaaS, on –demand solution, you don't have to invest in hardware, there's nothing to install, it doesn't require any setup and you don't need specialized IT skills.

According to Concursive, users need only to subscribe, login and begin using the system. "This kind of capability used to be hard for a small business to pull off," said Harvey. "We're talking the power capabilities and putting it in everyone's hands." The company's motto supports his statement: Built for the Enterprise, Open to All.

Putting power into people's hands is all well and good, but it doesn’t pay Concursive's employees. The company derives its revenue stream, according to Harvey, from its larger customers (those with more than 100 employees) who do not want publicly available software. "They're looking for proprietary, on-site solutions that are available only to them," he said.

So what can you expect from this free offer in terms of security? According to Harvey, the company uses redundant systems within its data center, SSL passwords and applications that are written in JAVA (which Harvey termed a "robust security architecture.").

The company offers support through forums and e-mail during the free period, or you can purchase a standard support contract (sold for $99 an hour in blocks of five hours). Harvey pointed out that the company's open-source community is both very large and supportive. Its 15,000 members – including the people who developed ConcourseSuite ‑ participate actively in the forums, write blogs, wikis and download documents.

You can sign up for your free version of ConcourseSuite 5.0 here.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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