My Dream: Open Source CRM and Proposal Software

When I started working at my current job, I inherited a system that consisted of ACT! for our contacts, Deltek CRM/Proposals for our project info, and Deltek Advantage for accounting. In general, I find the Deltek products to be overly expensive and not very user friendly. And I liked Act! even less.

Being so frustrated with ACT!, I said to myself “I’ll make my own contact system.” And I did just that. I hired a developer from India to make a tailor-made web-based contact system. It is built on PHP and MYSQL, which are open source technologies. Plus I stipulated that all rights to the code be transferred to me. The whole thing cost me about $700 and it works great.

Why would I pay $399 per user for a contact management system when I can get my own made for $700 and have unlimited users? It was a bold call, but I’m happy with my decision.

This brings me to my dream. I have 1/3rd of the puzzle complete for $700. How much would it cost to do the other two pieces? I’m thinking I can get it done for $5,000 (when i get around to it).  That’s significantly less that I estimated the five year cost ($29,000) of moving to Deltek Vision for just contacts and proposals.

Is anybody else excited by the implications of a free-for-all open source CRM solution for the A/E/C industry? I believe its time has come. What do you think?


  1. Have you built the proposal software yet?

  2. Andrew Gittins says

    A few years ago I looked at developing my own proposal/RFP software.

    To replicate what the market leader had (starting from a zero code base ie blank piece of paper) would take 10 developers a year = approximately USD 1 million.

    If you can get the job done for USD 5,000 you’ve done well.

  3. Matt I’d be happy to chip in (invest) some funds in the project — though think it reasonable that other users pay something for access (perhaps a modest training/support fee or donation.) There’s no reason this can’t be run as a profitable business; delivering real value but at a price much lower than others are paying now.

    (We’ve used offshore developers a lot in our business, successfully opening the market and breaking the monopoly for some highly regional specialized construction trade publication advertising. Cost was way below what I think others needed to pay to get the job done.)

  4. The market is ripe for an Open Source version. I say go for it!

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