An Open Source Cloud Based Marketing and Support Engine
Most of the CRM software I sold and supported was commercial software costing around $300 – $500 per user. It had to be installed either as a single user system on a laptop or desktop computer running Microsoft Windows, or installed onto a Windows based Server serving Windows based Workstations. This software allowed a fair degree of sharing and synchronization between Workstations and portable devices but that synchronization became very complicated when travelling or working from remote locations. In 2008 I ceased selling commercial software.
My business now revolves around open source, cloud based software. I install, configure and develop WordPress websites and blogs. I teach classes and do ‘one on one’ consulting and training in WordPress. I have become spoiled by the awesomeness of WordPress and the freedom of Open Source and The Cloud.
However, I have missed CRM software and have been struggling to make Microsoft Outlook do many of the things I needed doing in order to support my client base. Unfortunately it failed. So, determined to find the system that was affordable and could achieve all of my requirements, I tested many commercial and open source offerings; then I came across vTiger CRM
I have put together a list of 14 key vTiger CRM attributes which differentiate it from competitive systems… and illustrate why it is such a valueable resource for any business, large or small.
- Open Source. vTiger is an open source software product (which means that the software’s source code is available and that any user can read, re-use, modify it – it is provided under the vTiger Public License (an open source license which comes from Mozilla Public License).
- Use just Yourself or for the Whole Company. vTiger is in the cloud and multi-user; which means that you or your colleagues can access it from anywhere in the world at any time. One user updates a record or schedule in Seattle and another user can see those updates instantly from accessing the system in Tokyo.
- vTiger, like WordPress, is FREE. The code can be freely downloaded from the vTiger.com website along with a whole series of utilities including plugins to synchronize data, emails, contacts, schedules, tasks and appointments with Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and more…
- Trusted and Rock Solid Database. Built on MySQL, and developed in PHP, vTiger is strong, stable and secure. In fact the vTiger Server can run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS although most commonly it is run on Linux.
- Cloud (Web) based. Being a Cloud (or Web) based solution; vTiger can be accessed from any device that has a browser and an Internet connection. Gone are the days when your CRM solution had to be Windows or Mac but never both at the same time. vTiger can be accessed and updated, enhanced and exploited on any system you choose; whether it be a Windows Laptop, Desktop or Windows Phone, an iPad, iMac or iPhone, an Android Tablet or Google Chromebook. vTiger (like WordPress) doesn’t care so long as you have a web browser and an Internet connection.
- Phone Apps for Mobile Data. vTiger has an Android Phone App and an iPhone App which automatically synchronizes data from the web to your phone; but it synchronizes far more than just contact details. It’ll give you access to just about all the data online including inventory levels, invoice details and status, calendars and schedules (for yourself and your colleagues – remember, this is a multi user system), and so much more…
- Client Server. vTiger is a client/server solution which means that while you are accessing information, compiling statistics, reading reports, developing email campaigns and the like on your iPad or laptop, the processing is being done on the server somewhere on the web. All the hassle of the server side is being done for you without distracting you from your primary task of developing and supporting your customers or developing materials for marketing and growing your business. It also means that many users can also be doing the same thing at the same time from their iPads, PCs, laptops etc. The server does the hard work and the clients (the iPads, Laptops etc) get the results.
- Intuitive. vTiger is a highly intuitive system (much like WordPress) and is extremely well designed. Functions, Modules, Reports and Administration services are just where you would expect to find them and the system looks great.
- Power is there when you need it. vTiger is packed with features but you only need to use those that serve your purpose or business. Just because there are over 20 Modules in vTiger it shouldn’t intimidate you. Just use those features you need when you need them, and then as you get to know the system better, so those additional features are there to serve your needs.
- CRM Essentials. vTiger’s key features include Accounts (main records that would include companies and organizations, departments etc), Contacts (individuals or employees of the companies or departments), Multi User Calendar (each user has their own events calendar, scheduler and to do list), Webmail.
- Customizable Modules. vTiger’s Enhanced Modules include a full Campaign Manager, Quotation System, Sales and Purchase Orders, Invoicing, Trouble Ticket Support System, Lead Management and Tracking (all linked to a PDF generator and the email system) and a full functioning Customer Portal; which personalizes your interactions and support with your customers. And everything in vTiger is fully customizable.
- Report Writer. vTiger features a highly flexible Report Writer which allows you to access and manage the mass of related data in the system.
- Easy to use and easy to learn. One of the problems I experienced in testing various other systems was that they were hard to learn, hard to install and hard to upgrade. Not so with vTiger. I have found it to be a pleasure to work with and highly reliable, fast and very secure. There are thousands of businesses and individuals around the world using and ‘abusing’ vTiger.
- Constant upgrades. There is a vTiger development team that acts on user feedback. It regularly provides software upgrades and enhancements based on that feedback. And there are lots of consultants and trainers like me to provide an easy transition from the mayhem of many paper or computer based systems (or non systems) into vTiger.
vTiger just released version 5.3 of the system which offers the following:
- Sales automation (customizable product entries, inventory management, quotations, billing, and trouble ticketing)
- Customer support & service functions, including a customer self-service portal
- Marketing automation (lead generation, campaign support, knowledge bases)
- Inventory Management
- Analysis and reporting
User interaction features include:
- Integration with corporate E-mail systems (plugin for Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird extension)
- Support of the Asterisk PBX phone system
- Tag cloud functionality
- RSS feed subscription
- PDF document generation via the TCPDF library
Incorporating Customer Relationship Management into your business will improve customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, business efficiency and profitability. It can and did cost a lot of money to incorporate such a system, but not anymore. vTiger CRM changes all of that just as WordPress changed the face of websites. The world of Customer Relationship Management will never be the same again.
My vTiger CRM classes start this spring!
Christine Ely, WordPress and vTiger CRM consultant and trainer.