It’s been a while since I gave you something that was truly, mind numbingly, awesome! OK, FancyHands was close…but you had to pay for that.
But what I have for you today takes the cake. Let me explain…
CRM is obviously a huge frustration in our industry. A few years ago, I even got together with some of the top minds in the industry to envision the Perfect CRM.
We all know the problems. Most systems are way too expensive for smaller firms. And even if you can afford it, the per user pricing structure makes giving access to everyone cost prohibitive.
Of course the list goes on:
- They are not user friendly.
- They don’t encourage the user to keep using the system.
- They have too many useless features.
- Your staff prefers using Outlook, etc.
Just writing about it is painful for me. But people who have a working and usable CRM swear by them.
I thought the Perfect CRM project would be a warning shot across the bow of the CRM businesses that serve us.
I even had a face to face meeting with Dan Cornish, the owner of Costential, who seemed interested in providing a solution. But he never really committed to the idea. His team thought some of my ideas, like gamification, were just plain nuts.
Yet, I couldn’t let this idea simply die. This problem just had to be solved.
Luckily, I was contacted by a group of open source developers who had a similar vision for CRM. And using a few of my ideas, they built something I think you’ll be very interested in.
Zurmo is a FREE web-based CRM system that your IT person can easily set up on a web server, Amazon’s cloud, or even a local networked computer. And if you are a little computer savvy, you may even be able to set it up yourself. In fact, I have it installed on my laptop right now.
Zurmo has just about everything a small to mid-sized firm would need in a CRM.
How Could It Possibly Be Free? Come On, What’s The Catch?
Zurmo was started as a side project from people at the company Telestream. The guy who started Telestream, Jason Green, had some early involvement with SugarCRM, which last I used it…sucked. From what I understand, he wasn’t happy with the direction of SugarCRM and left to form his own venture. This is a solid product built by some very experienced people.
Zurmo is open source, which means people from all over (including me) contributed ideas and code to the project. All these different people contribute to the project with the understanding that the computer code will be made freely available to the public. If you want to learn more about open source, just click on the link earlier in this paragraph.
In a nutshell, that’s why it is free with no strings attached. No per user costs. No maintenance fees…nothing!
What Zurmo Can Do
Right out of the gate, Zurmo has all the features of most CRMs. It can track accounts, leads, contacts, and opportunities.
You can important information (like contacts, leads, opportunities, etc.) by creating a CSV file in Excel or Outlook. You won’t have to type all your information into the system (who wants to do that?).
You also have the typical administration control of user permissions.
How It Is Different
As soon as you install Zurmo, the difference will present itself. You’ll be awarded a badge, much like you would in Foursquare.
This is the “Gamification” aspect of the system. It awards you for using it. This adds a competitive aspect to your CRM, which engages the user much like a video game. And this is where my ideas were implemented.
This aspect of the system is most evident in your profile (as seen below).
In addition to badges, there are points and leader boards. I’m pretty sure you can turn these off, but why would you?
Zurmo also introduces the concept of Missions. Missions allows co-workers to challenge one another in exchange for a reward. I’m not sure this feature is ready for prime time, but it’s an interesting feature which is available for you to use.
Still To Come
In April, Zurmo plans to release an update that will bring email marketing, Outlook, Exchange, and Gmail integration to the system. This update will also add reporting features, which I’m sure your boss will want.
Ok, How Do I Get This?
There are many ways to download and install Zurmo. For the extremely tech savvy people, like your IT person, the source is available at the Zurmo site.
But there are other, easier ways to get it up and running. I downloaded it from Bitnami, which provides ready-to-install versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
If you don’t have a server it can be easily set up on Amazon’s Cloud Service using Bitnami Cloud. You’ll have to pay Amazon and Bitnami some money. But then again you might not because both services offer free tiers.
Even if you are bad with technology and have no IT person, you can still use Zurmo. Arvixe has Zurmo hosting plans that will set you back a whopping $4 per month. Remember, that’s not per user. That’s for unlimited users.
The Perfect CRM?
Zurmo is not perfect. But it is easy to set up. It’s pretty user-friendly. It probably has everything your firm needs in a CRM. It encourages user engagement. And most importantly, it won’t cost you a dime.
It does not have a project/proposal database. I doubt it ever will. But keep your eyes peeled and a simple solution just may pop up on this site in the future.
If you are thinking about deploying a CRM but don’t know where to start, give Zurmo a try. Try it out with a few people on your team and see if it works for you. If so, you owe me big time for this one! 😛
Key Takeaway: Zurmo is a free CRM that’s perfect for small to medium-sized A/E/C firms (and maybe big ones too).
If you liked this article, please subscribe below or on the right side of the homepage. If you have used or end up using Zurmo, post your impressions in the comments to this post because that will help others who are on the fence.