Open Source

Zurmo Spices Up the Open Source CRM Game

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 15, 2013

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Zurmo this spring is bringing out a commercial version of its open source CRM solution to address the needs of medium-sized businesses with 50 or more users. Release 1.5 will include enhanced mobile integration, gamification features, reporting, various e-mail integrations, and workflow capabilities.

“1.5 is going to make us at parity with SugarCRM (News - Alert) Enterprise Professional Edition,” said Zurmo Community Manager Stafford McKay.

Zurmo was founded by Jason Green and Ray Stoeckicht. Green was an early employee of SugarCRM. He went on to establish Intelestream (News - Alert), which offers consulting and services related to SugarCRM.

McKay and Stoeckicht worked for Intelestream as well.

Up until the release of 1.5, Zurmo’s only offering was its Open Source (News - Alert) Edition, which is a do-it-yourself, kit-type solution available for free download, explains McKay.

Open Source Edition, which became available in June, is now used in more than 2,000 active installations.

Open source solutions like the Zurmo CRM are appealing because they allows user to do customization, such as adding extensions, to meet their specific needs, McKay notes. What makes Zurmo’s solution different from the other open source CRM offerings in the market is the fact that its code base is brand new, while competing products date back to 2004.

Zurmo was built using a PHP framework called Yii. McKay explains that it’s a newer, better framework for building a software application as opposed to what he describes as “older, messier frameworks” used 10 years ago.

Another Zurmo differentiator is that it tests every line of code before release to avoid bugs. “When you have bugs that’s pretty bad because people are less likely to use it and less likely to want to build on top of it,” McKay said.

As noted, gamification is also a feature of the Zurmo CRM solution. In fact, McKay notes, gamification is built in to the core architecture of the application, as opposed to being an extension or add-on.

Every activity done in the application is tracked through gamification. As a result, the organization can award points for user adoption, upping employees’ score every time they add or update entries in the CRM system. They can also use the gamification functionality to encourage best business practices and task completion, such as closing out a support ticket on time or ahead of schedule.

“It’s almost like a report card in school” that supervisors can use to help employees with their performance.

An organization might have a great sales person, but that individual might be a horrible communicator, and that may be costing the company money, he says. Gamification can help track how that sales person is communicating, or not, so an organization can take steps to improve internal and/or external communications.

Gamification also is good way to recognize employees, McKay adds, commenting that non-sales folks sometimes don’t get recognized for their roles in closing a sale.

In addition to its new release, Zurmo recently brought some new features to its product to address international requirements. In January, Zurmo announced a new Drupal-based translation method that enables developers that use the CRM platform to more easily work together and do quality control.

“We’ve laid the foundation for language contributors in our community to have a place where they can organize their efforts to reach the best translation quality,” stated Sergey Fayngold, a Hamburg-based PHP and MySQL developer. “New labels are added much faster and are moderated by native speakers. Additionally, better translation suggestions are implemented through an out-of-the-box release management tool, making it easier to improve older versions of the application.”

McKay notes that the Zurmo CRM product also includes a real-time currency capability that enables users to select different currency for deals done in CRM, and support for international measurements.

Edited by Braden Becker