Best Open Source CRM Software. Definitive Review for 2021

Best Open Source CRM Software. Definitive Review for 2021
Ivan Pavlov
April 17, 2020
Last updated: April 8, 2021

Table of content

The advantages of open-source

  1. It’s Usually Free

  2. Better Access to Upgrades

  3. You Aren’t Locked-In to One Vendor

  4. Not One-Size-Fits-All

  5. Help Others and Help Yourself

The Top Open-Source CRM Software


When Linux came out in 1991, it was one of the first open-source operating systems and it boasted only 10,000 lines of code. Today, the Linux kernel features 17 million lines of code, an ode to its success and growth.

Back then, the open-source concept was nothing more than a fringe movement among technologists. They were fighting against closed systems like Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Macintosh. Open-source did not enter mainstream consciousness until the web browser Firefox leaped onto the scene.

Since the mid-2000s, plenty of software developers have been making their software available for people to download and modify. It makes it easier for other people to build off the shoulders of giants.

Thus, it makes sense that CRM developers would take advantage of open-source libraries. But why would you want open source CRM software apart from wanting to develop your own?

Below, we’re going to talk about the advantage of open-source software and how your company can take advantage. Keep scrolling to find out!

The Advantages of Open-Source

If If you have the resources to exploit open-source software, you’ll find plenty of advantages to using it in your business. Here are just a few:

1. It’s Usually Free

The spirit of open-source software is freedom and sharing. If you don’t care about support, most open-source software will give you the base code for free. Why? Because they believe that what they have should be shared and used and improved by all.

If you want to change a feature to fit your business, why shouldn’t you? You have the ability and the time. Go for it!

But even if it’s not free, it’s usually cheap. The cost for you is in time and resources, not actual dollars. And if you’re worried about the costs of training, support, and maintenance, realize that you’d be paying for those things anyways through the monthly cost of the software. When you hire for those things, you control who you hire and thus you control the cost.

If you’re running an enterprise, you would normally pay yearly license renewal costs as much as 30% of the purchase cost of the license. With open-source, there is no license and no annual fee to maintain it.

2. Better Access to Upgrades

With most CRMs, if you want to upgrade the software, you have to pay a fee. With open-source, if someone creates an upgrade, they often share it publicly. You can use the upgrade for free or cheap.

On top of the free upgrades created by developers, if you have the resources, you can create your own custom upgrades. Is the software missing Gantt charts? Why not build a Gantt chart tool yourself or hire someone to do it for you?

Your developers will revel at the challenge. In the process of customization and upgrade, they might even innovate their own tech solutions and spark new products for your company.

3.  You Aren’t Locked-In to One Vendor

If you use Office 365, why would you use Google Hangouts Meet? Office 360’s enterprise-level subscription includes a conferencing app in the form of Microsoft Teams. You’re locked into using Microsoft’s products for the foreseeable future even if something better comes along.

Vendors are notorious for dropping support for older software they no longer find profitable. If your enterprise was used to using Windows 95, sorry, that’s not supported in 2021 anymore. But with open-source Linux, you could keep using the same features you loved and build even better ones down the line. Then, you could hire support who would continue to help you with problems for as long as you need.

Above all, with open-source, you avoid monopoly pricing and the loss of integrations when partnerships go south. With open-source, you won’t see prices driven up over time. The software will continue to be free no matter what. And your integrations are yours to tinker with, keep, discard, or whatever you feel like doing with them.

4. Not One-Size-Fits-All

We certainly hope you’re running your enterprise better than your competitor. And you’re running it differently as well. The software solutions you need might be similar, but they’re not going to be entirely the same. This is why you need to be able to customize your software so your team has that competitive edge.

That’s what open-source CRM does for your enterprising business. It allows a large degree of customization by giving you full access to the base code. Proprietary companies won’t let you tinker with their software. They claim it will “harm their security measures.” But what it really does is harm their profits.

While you might want to add to the software your team uses, maybe you will also want to subtract. While CRM like Bitrix24 has all the tools you would need and more, it might be a bit overwhelming for the new intern. If you have the ability to pair down the tools to what’s absolutely necessary, you’ll save both your team’s time and money.

5. Help Others and Help Yourself

The open-source community is one of collaboration. Innovation speeds up when all hands are on deck. And when you’re creating something for a good cause, you’re more motivated to create a quality and functional product.

If you innovate and build off the base software, you might create something that’s useful for the small business down the street. They can then take what you’ve done and build something even better and benefit you.

You have the knowledge of the world’s best developers at the tips of your fingers when you’re using open-source. When you use proprietary software, you’re giving up that knowledge base and that innovative spirit. You’re also giving up that community-built support.

Consider it this way: your developers might be top-notch, but they’re still human and they might miss a bug. But when hundreds of developers have their eyes on a piece of software, then they’ll find bugs your guys might have missed.

The Top Open-Source CRM Software

Now you’re convinced that open-source is the way to go. But can you find an excellent source of CRM software for your team? You’re in luck. We’ve got our top five right below.

1. Bitrix24

If you’re looking for an extensive, all-inclusive, open source CRM software solution, then Bitrix24’s Self-Hosted option is right for you. It’s perfect for companies anywhere between 50 and 50,000 employees. And it’s super-scalable.

Key Features

With the self-hosted version, nothing is locked away. You can use all the tools or some of the tools. You get the API and SKD documentation which will help your team customize the software to fit your needs.

With Bitrix24’s open-source software, you can use your own brand including logo, colors, and background images. Create your own portal templates, take advantage of native integrations with the likes of Office 365, MS Exchange, etc, and integrate with any ERP. The backend is powerful and it includes a full-featured CMS.

First, if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools, it’s ok, you’re not alone. That’s why Bitrix24 created a host of free tutorials and videos to help your team learn how to maximize their tools. You’ll quickly learn what tools your team needs and what tools you could do without.

Inside, you’ll find all the customer relations tools and lead management tools common in most CRM solutions. Alongside these basic tools, you’ll see advanced features. Tools like sales pipeline management and online payment processing tools will help you close the deal on countless sales automatically.

If you’re looking for enterprise-oriented tools, Bitrix24 includes those as well:

  • Within workgroups create unlimited tasks and subtasks

  • Full data analysis and insights tools

  • Allow outside users permission to work within the platform

  • Advanced reporting and Gantt charts

  • Automated workflows and templates

  • Employee workload management and time tracking

  • Communication tools including video and audio

  • Collaboration tools

  • Both mobile and desktop apps

Pros

  • Easily scalable

  • Features automation

  • API and SDK documentation

Cons

  • Excessive functionality

  • Unclear tutorials

  • Mobile app lacks certain features

Pricing

Bitrix24 features a basic self-hosted edition called Bitrix24.CRM that costs $1,490 and is limited to 12 users.

2. VTiger CRM

Vtiger open source crm

VTiger is an entirely free CRM tool that’s also open-source. The open-source edition offers the same functionality as the paid cloud edition, but you don’t receive the benefits of IT and support. You would have to hire your own team for that.

Key Features

No matter what version you choose, you’ll receive the core tools. These include progress charts, Gantt charts, integrations with Google apps, DocuSign, Outlooks, Mailchimp, and more. The Gmail integration will help you with CRM data referencing while emailing.

Run marketing campaigns, track leads and customers, seek out new opportunities, etc. Its intuitive workflow will help you handle the daily sales cycle and assign tasks and collaborate on projects.

Reporting features are Vtiger’s biggest weak point. The company doesn’t include the full-weight reporting features in the open-source edition. You will need to either build out better reporting features or pay for the cloud version. The source itself is a hodgepodge of other open-source tools. It includes bits of SugarCRM, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.

Pros

  • All version feature the core tools

  • Intuitive workflow

  • Plenty of useful integrations

Cons

  • Poor reporting

  • Per user pricing

  • No support for the open-source version

Pricing

Plans range from the basic Pilot (free, 10 users max, 3,000 records max) to Enterprise ($58 per user monthly, unlimited records).

3. Freshsales

Freshsales open source crm software

Are you looking for lightweight open source CRM software? Then Freshworks is your jam. It’s easy to set up and customize.

Key Features

Freshworks’ data deduplication functionality is unique among CRM software suites. It’s their claim to the machine learning space. This tool reduces the impact of redundant data on cloud storage. By deduplicating data, you reduce storage costs and optimize your online drives.

Take advantage of a vast array of alerts. These include contract renewal and auto-renewal reminders. You can set the software to intelligently watch out for deal rotting as well.

Not all CRM options include VoIP, voicemail, and call recording. On top of these communication methods, you’ll have access to email templates and campaigns and email automation tools.

To store your emails, you can integrate Freshworks with online storage tools like Google Drive and Dropbox business. This alone could decrease your server costs.

The software comes with a full-featured mobile app you can download on iOS and Android phones. Download reports on tasks, appointments, leads, conversations, deals, accounts, and contacts. Use the built-in reports or customize your own. These can be automated to run daily, weekly, or monthly.

Pros

  • Integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox

  • Comes with a full-featured mobile app

  • Features automation and data deduplication

Cons

  • A bit pricey

  • Takes some to get used to the UI

  • Lacks certain advanced CRM features

Pricing

Choose one of three plans:

  • Growth ($35/mo per user) - for small and fast-growing businesses that need an all-in-one CRM

  • Pro ($85/mo per user) - for larger teams that want to scale and build efficiency

  • Enterprise ($149/mo per user) - for enterprises that need customization and control

4. Hubspot CRM

Hubspot open source crm

Hubspot is known more for their dedicated marketing software than for their CRM software. This doesn’t mean Hubspot CRM is a bad batch of CRM. In fact, Hubspot makes some pretty stunning tools for customer relations.

Key Features

Since Hubspot is mainly a marketing company, their strongest link is their marketing tools. You get to control your channels and your content. You get a full view of your marketing strategy and what matters right there inside the dashboard.

If you subscribe to Hubspot’s marketing software, it already comes integrated with the CRM side. Unfortunately, this defeats the purpose of a free open-source solution. But if you have Hubspot’s marketing software, you can capture leads, collect data, and quickly import the data to improve your marketing.

You’re doing the right thing by going open-source with Hubspot’s CRM solution. Their cloud-based solution isn’t fully customizable. Most tools are static. Unless you’re going to sign up for their more customizable marketing solution, you get a rigid, barebones software suite with the cloud version.

Pros

  • Excellent tools for customer relations

  • Full control over your channels and your content

  • Easy-to-use, informative dashboard

Cons

  • Cloud-based version not fully customizable

  • Lacks certain advanced CRM features

  • A bit pricey

Pricing

The CRM itself can be used for free but if you want access to the open-source version, you need to get one of their paid plans:

  • Starter (starts at 2 paid users, $50/mo)

  • Professional (starts at 5 paid users, $500/mo)

  • Enterprise (starts at 10 paid users, $1,200/mo)

5. OroCRM

Oro open source crm

OroCRM is based on Symfony2 and the PHP programming language. PHP is one of the most common open-source coding languages out there and thus your programmers will quickly dig in and customize what you want.

Key Features

This allows you maximum control. You can customize OroCRM to fit your customer-base rather than force them to fit a mold. Oro’s PHP codebase allows you to easily find programmers who can work on your customizations.

It’s been designed from the ground up to work for enterprising businesses. The admin panel allows localization for different countries. It includes organization panels and LDAP security integration. Compression for data allows users to search data quickly no matter how big the data set.

Overall, this is solid-base open source CRM software for your team to implement and leap from.

Pros

  • Based on PHP and Symfony2

  • Data compression for faster search

  • Localizations for different countries

Cons

  • Rather pricey

  • Cannot be deployed on Android

  • No lead scoring system

Pricing

The starting price is $35,000/year and the plan includes 25 users.

Bitrix24 is The Best CRM for open-source Implementation

Open-source is free, it gives you access to better upgrades, and keeps you from being locked-in to proprietary vendor pricing. It’s not one-size-fits-all and you can give your customers the best experience out there by tailoring your CRM to their needs and the needs of your team.

There’s a reason Bitrix24 is our top open source CRM software. It’s the only software with all the tools you need and more. If you’re ready to access Bitrix24, sign up today!

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