visual4, a media company from Stuttgart, Germany, compared three open source CRM systems in a study - XRMS CRM, vtiger CRM and SugarCRM - and also added the commercial open source CRM info@hand for better comparison. As it is not easy for small and medium sized companies to evaluate and chose the appropriate application, I would like to share the summary of the results with Asian e-Marketing readers.


Requirements for Implementation

The CRM systems in this comparison are web-based and can be comfortably accessed via internet browser. Further, all systems are based on the programming language PHP and can be installed on LAMP-Stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).

Comparison of Contact Management Functions

All functions and features are built around the customer management features. Contact Management is one of the most important and basic features of a CRM system and should be easy and comfortable to use. Basic functionalities are customer data collection and management, contact management, organization management. Some companies need organizational structures and partnerships to be depicted as well.


Comparison of Sales and Marketing Functions

The process of developing new contacts to customers should be depicted in a CRM solution. Tools like import, campaigns, serial letters, batch e-mails are part of the CRM system. To make processes simpler, these modules are connected and the processes depicted as work flow.


Comparison of E-Commerce Functions


Comparison of Support Functions

In order to gain customer loyalty, it is important to achieve customer satisfaction. Support functionalities are crucial for this and should be enabled by the CRM system.


Comparison of Communication Management Functions

Communication management includes the entire steering, controlling, synchronizing and archiving of communication with the customer.


Comparison of Collaboration and Information Management


Comparison of Analysis and Reporting

Analysis and reporting functionalities are important for future strategies and decisions and optimizing processes for sales and marketing. It can make all the difference if there is the option of individually configuring the reports generated.


Comparison of Administrative Functions


Comparison of ERP Interfaces and individual Plug-Ins


Comparison of Installation and Maintenance


Comparison of Plug-Ins


Comparison of User Friendliness

A CRM system has to have an intuitive user interface. It has to be structured to make orientation easy for the user. This can be made easier by using specific colours and symbols. Performance is also crucial for user friendliness. Users accept a system much more readily, if it has an intuitive user interface paired with good performance.


Each one of the compared CRM systems offers a great deal of functions, which makes it difficult to exactly rate the systems, as choosing the right system depends strongly on the individual company‘s requirements. The objective of this comparison is to provide answers to questions and enable customers to preselect the systems which could be taken into consideration.  

XRMS can be easily personalized and has a simple data base structure, which makes it easy to program add-ons and interfaces. It enables a good management of user rights and the integrated work flow engine makes it possible to depict specified processes. XRMS is available under an open source license without licensing costs.

vtiger has a great deal of functions, especially in the ERP sector enabling offers, order processes and invoicing. It is easy to use with an intuitive user interface and can easily be integrated with office applications. It is available under an open software license.

SugarCRM has a great range of functions in the field of sales, marketing and support, with good scalability. The layout can be adapted even without programming. Unfortunately only the Community Edition is available as open source. The SugarCRM Enterprise and Professional versions are available at annual licensing costs.

The commercial open source CRM solution info@hand is based on the Community Edition of SugarCRM and with its range of functions can be compared to the Enterprise and Professional editions of SugarCRM. The self-service customer portal and integrated online shop makes this system interesting. This CRM system is available with a one-time licensing fee, making it a good deal if a lot of functionalities like ERP, customer portal, e-commerce etc. are needed.

Further Information on the four CRM Systems:

By Anjum Siddiqi