What I learned about CRMs for small businesses
Last month a client contacted me asking to help them either put together a custom Customer Relationship Management system (CRM for short) or setup a plug and play CRM so in earnest I took on the challenge and started my research.
I’m pretty new to the world of CRMs so I started with the basics and looked what was already commercially available on the market.
Turns out the CRM market is huge and there are lots of very similar products that do a very similar sort of thing.
The issue I had when testing out these CRMs is that they contained a lot of fluff. Business needs to be lean and streamlined so naturally, the CRM also needs to just do what it needs to do and no more.
Quickly I learnt that the plug and play commercial options for CRMs just wouldn’t cut the mustard for this particular client. Their workflow and the way they captured leads was different to what was on offer.
The other issue with these is that the cost a lot. The monthly fees on some of them were way out of sync with what the client could be expected to cover.
That lead naturally to a do it yourself CRM.
This instantly lead to me hitting another hurdle and that was the customers budget. It just did not stretch to cover the cost of the development.
Ok, so the commercially available CRMs don’t do the right job and the budget is too small for a complete custom job.
That can only mean one thing. Find a bit of kit that has done most of the groundwork building the CRM but is open source and can be customisable/hacked up to pieces to make it fit.
After about a day of Googling and asking on forums I found something that I think can work. It’s called…
Ultimate Client Manager (UCM for short).
It’s available on the CodeCanyon (Envato) marketplace.
There are a few different options to choose from.
1) UCM Lite Version – this is a slimmed down version of the CRM that does the basics which you can tweak to your own needs.
2) UCM Pro Version – this is the full package CRM that contains every single available plugin and also works with different themes and is brandable.
I’m still in the process of developing the UCM CRM but it actually hits the nail on the head. There are no monthly fees. I just use my ultimate hosting package from Tsohost which gives me cloud scalability for a fixed one-off monthly cost and have added an SSL to the custom domain (check out my Tsohost Review and Tsohost Promo Code).
I will write up soon my views of UCM and how I set it up.