What I’ve Learned From Using Zurmo As My CRM

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A few months ago, I wrote a post that has become the most viewed page on HelpEverybodyEveryday.com. The article was called,“The Best FREE CRM For A/E/C Firms Is Here.” It was about a new CRM called Zurmo.

Since then, I’ve gone “full boar” with Zurmo as my CRM, I’ve modified the heck out of it, talked a lot to the developers, learned new things about what it is and where it’s going, convinced them to make some changes, struggled to get it to be what I want it to be, and have gotten a glimpse of its enormous potential to be a game-changing CRM.

I’ve also gotten lots of questions about Zurmo. So, I wanted to tell you a little about what I’ve learned in the last month.

Open Source vs. Paid Zurmo

Frankly, when I wrote that article I didn’t even know there was a paid version of Zurmo. But there is. Let me explain the difference.

Think of it this way. Open source (free) Zurmo is a software program. It’s website is Zurmo.org. In my post, I had links where you could download Zurmo and install it on a web server or your personal computer. At the time, I had it installed on my laptop. I even provided links to a web host that would host the software for you.

Some of my readers somehow found their way to Zurmo.com.

Zurmo.com is a service. The service starts at $8/user/month.

Major Differences Between the Two Versions

Let me explain the major differences between Zurmo.org and Zurmo.com.

I downloaded Zurmo 1.0 (from Zurmo.org) on my laptop. Then they released Zurmo 1.5. I needed to install a free update to get Zurmo 1.5 on my laptop. It wasn’t automatic or like updating an app on your phone.

If I had any problems with the software, I couldn’t call anyone. There is no phone support for open source projects. That’s why I said in my post that you would need an “IT guy.”

Because Zurmo.com is a service provided by the developers, it is always up to date. When version 3.0 or 4.5 comes out, you won’t have to do anything. Ray, the Co-Founder of Zurmo, and his elves over at Zurmo.com take care of that for you.

And if you have a problem, Zurmo.com has phone support. That’s where the $8 goes. Nobody is going to give you phone support for free.

Then there is another option.

Bells and Whistles

There is also a “pro” version of Zurmo.com which tops out at is $36/month/user. And if, for some reason, you feel Exchange support, Outlook integration, and Google apps integration is essential…go for it. Personally, that’s not something I really need.

Why The Jump From $8 to $32?

Microsoft isn’t going to give you anything for free. And while this may seem like an insane statement, neither will Google. It costs Zurmo money to provide these integrations.

So for $32/user/month (3x more), you can get Google apps and Microsoft integration with your Zurmo.

But even with all those bells and whistles, it’s still about half the price of Salesforce.

Your Zurmo Options

In summary, you have three Zurmo options.

  • Pay nothing but host and support it yourself.
  • Pay $8/user/month and the Zurmo team will host it and give you phone support.
  • Pay $36/user/month for Exhange, Outlook, and Google apps integration. Plus, they host and support it.

If you have ANY questions about your options with Zurmo, please post a comment to this post. I’d be glad to answer any questions.

Something You Need To Understand About Zurmo

Zurmo is in its infancy and is constantly evolving. People all over the world, including me, are contributing to its development. I’ve certainly identified bugs in the system. In my opinion, by no means is Zurmo as mature and stable as other CRMs on the market.

There are drastic improvements in the pipeline. For example, Zurmo has no iPhone or Android app. What it has now is a mobile web version that is like an app. But apps are coming (I’m just not sure when). Just recently, they added email marketing to the system.

I’ve also seen vast improvements to the user interface, which I’m sure we’ll see in upcoming versions of Zurmo. There is also a full page of suggestions I gave to their team, which they plan to adopt (but I’m not sure when).

Zurmo Is a Framework

I’ve done a lot to customize my Zurmo (without coding). Ray was even impressed with what I’ve done.

I don’t know anything about programming. Ray does. So, he and his team can turn Zurmo into anything you want it to be. He says this is because Zurmo is a “framework.”

One of The Hidden Benefits of CRM

You can email your contacts within Zurmo. But it doesn’t have a built-in email client to receive and manage your email.

I thought that was a bad thing. I was wrong. Zurmo is an non-distracting environment where I can follow up with the contacts I need to.

Yes, they may return my email and I won’t see it. After I’m all done, I can go back to the soul-sucking void that is my email. And if someone did email me back, I can respond and BCC Zurmo. Zurmo will log the email in that person’s contact record.

You don’t have to be in Zurmo to use it. But when you are in it, there are no distractions.

I’m envisioning a day where if I don’t email or talk to a client in three months, they receive a personalized email (not a marketing piece) from me courtesy of my Zurmo.

That’s what I think architects and engineers need: a system that makes developing and maintaining relationships easier.

Full Disclosure

Although I’ve had experience with various CRM systems, I feel like I’m still learning CRM.

I’m currently using a paid version of Zurmo. I’ve contributed to it’s development. And ultimately, I’ll benefit financially from the success of it’s paid versions.

I would like to see Zurmo become the Perfect CRM me, Ford Harding, Tim Klabunde, Bernie Siben and others envisioned back in 09. I would like you to try it and ultimately help us make it the solution this industry needs.

If you have any questions about Zurmo, post a reply/comment and I’ll answer them.

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Comments

  1. Got to say, I have tried lots of different CRMs and my company is now using Nutshell.com

    The reason: We are a small manufacturing company that sells our products both via direct sales (in-house sales team) and indirect sales (network of resellers and distributors)

    None of the major CRMs handle this multi sales channel environment well out of the box. You are required to purchase their most expensive plans and hire third party consultants to set everything up correctly and keep them on call to maintain order in your CRM.

    This is simply ridiculous in my opinion.

    So after searching and testing many different CRMs we found that Nutshell would not only track the different sales opportunities right out of the box, but do it in a way that doesn’t require third party experts to help you.

    Is Nutshell perfect? No. Are we happy with it. Yes.

  2. Ben Carter says:

    Just as a point of interest – looking at the current pricing there is no $8 option? There is only the $32 per user per month option.

    I’m looking for a suitable CRM for the not-for-profit member association I work for and had hoped this could work for us. I will try the fully free version first I think (then if that’s no good then maybe Fat Free CRM) as if we have to pay I would probably opt for Salesforce.

    • Matt Handal says:

      Hey Ben,

      I check with Ray over at Zurmo and you are right. They have discontinued the $8 option. It just wasn’t profitable for them. Right now it is the $32/user/month option. There are rumors that a cheaper option may reappear in the future.

      Try the community edition. In my experience, FAT Free CRM is a little trickier to get set up.

    • A great tool for non-profits is Civicrm. Google it. It is free and open-source so it can be difficult to set up but if you have someone on staff that is even sort of handy with a computer they can handle it. It even comes as a WordPress plugin now so it is very easy to install and customize.

      Good luck!

  3. Hi

    How long the Zurmo CE will work if I install it in a intranet. Is there any hidden limitations.

    I have tweeked it according to my requirements and want to use it in my uncle’s office.

    Please update…

    Ajay New Delhi India

    • Matt Handal says:

      Ajay,

      Zurmo “community edition” will work forever. It has no hidden limitations.

      Give it a go in your uncle’s office and let us know how it works out.

  4. My original comment about this seems to have disappeared into the ether so I guess I’ll re-post it! Anyway the $8 per user per month option no longer seems available – any idea why?

    My IT chap says we me may currently struggle hosting it internally ourselves so this option would be ideal for us.

  5. Thank you for the overview, Matt. My company has been using Zurmo for some time now and we are continually finding new features and ways to optimize the UI for our needs. Even without the “Gamification” it is a powerful CRM solution for those looking to collaborate with multiple users.

  6. srinivas says:

    Thanks Matt. I am new to Zurmo. Is there any customer service portal in Zurmo?

  7. I would say the only complaint have about Zurmo is the lack of user documentation. I am basically having to reinvent the wheel so that I can train our staff on how to use it.

  8. Well, I checked as well and no $8 option. For a small company that is still trying to get on its feet anything more is quite difficult to afford. But we will try the community version out.

  9. Hey Matt,

    Great article, thanks.

    I have a highly optimised version of Zurmo running on a VM on my local network. I simply love the flexibility of the system and the interface too!

    Without diving in to the code, one thing I can’t get my head around is setting up the email feature using a remote SMTP server. Do you have this feature operational in your install?

  10. Hi Matt,

    We are looking for a CRM that would function well as a jobseeker/applicant CRM. Client = Jobseeker. Any ideas? I love Zurmo from what I have researched thus far, but wanted your opinion. We need to track jobseeker bio/contact info and have ability to email, tweet etc to individuals and the community. Trickle campaigns, categorization of jobseekers…. Anything would be helpful, Thanks!

    Chris

  11. Hey Matt, I have version 2.7.1 of Zurmo running on a VM on my local network Works great with great interface. You mentioned that you can ” if someone did email me back, I can respond and BCC Zurmo. Zurmo will log the email in that person’s contact record.” How do you BCC zurmo what email do you use? How does it get attached to the contact in zurmo? My Zurmo email “outbound ” works great but would like to use the BCC feature if you can explain how to set it up.

    Thanks Bruce

  12. Is zurmo is secure for my data, If I installed it on my server, there would be any restriction or I have to move to the premium version if the community edition has any trial.

    • Matt Handal says:

      Amit, it would be as secure as any other application on your server. The community edition is not a trial. You can use it for however long you like.

      -Matt

  13. Zurmo is a great CRM, I have installed many instances of it for companys., it is a false representation saying its open source when they don’t provide plugins for free. I have had several plugins developed, to integrate with Asterisk phone system, MYOB accounting package & online stores. Zurmo has the potential to outstrip many crm’s. more visual indicators needs to be intergrated, like tasks need coloring when over due etc.

    • Hi Benjamin, do you have the community editions integrated with asterisk? did you developed a plugin or a module? if so please contact me, because I’m very interesting to integrate the community edition with asterisk. My email is alfiomunoz dat gmail dat com

  14. I use Zurmo at work and it is an amazing CRM. I now want to use it for my small business that I have on the side. However I do have a network of around 20 to 25 woman in my business that can really benefit from using Zurmo as it is easy to use and learn. I have the free trial as I wanted to learn how to customise the CRM to benefit me and as well as my network of ladies. I would like us to be able to be connected to Zurmo even though all of us are located in different towns and areas. We don’t want to pay for it as $32 or $36 converted into our currency of the Rand makes it quite pricey for us. Any Suggestions?

  15. Hello,

    I’d like to use ZurmoCRM to monitor partnerships with other compagnies (plan meetings with them, add tasks, archive contracts…).

    I’ve installed it on a VM but I’m finding hard to understand how to use it (should I use account or lead? how do workflows work so I could set up e-mail notifications? could my partners have access to their account?).

    Do you know if I could find any documentation online to help me setting up this great tool ?

    Thank you

  16. Santiago says:

    So just found out about Zurmo, we are a small service company that would like to use a simple project/client management software, Zurmo almost fits all our needs….

    But at the same time last month Zurmo was acquired by Gravity4, how do you think with your close relation with Ray that this will affect the CE edition, even Zurmo twitter account stopped tweeting, will be another Sugar CRM case?

    Thanks!

    • Matt Handal says:

      As it has been explained to me, it’s simply a rebranding of the Zurmo product. I’ve been told the community edition development will continue. But I’m not sure if that name will change as well.

  17. Hi Matt,

    I’ve found Zurmo and I really like the way it handles contacts, tasks, projects etc. But what about calendar? Do you use it to your appointments? There’s a lack of integration with anything in Community Edition.. I’d like to switch to Zurmo because of it’s simplicity – now I use SuiteCRM (fork of SugarCRM). It is too complicated and not user friendly. But there’s usable calendar with ICS support. Do You have any clues with it? I don’t want to get paid edition, it is too expensive for my mini-company. Just want to set appointments with my co-workers..

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