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Choosing the Right CRM Type for Your Business, Part I: Open Source vs Proprietary

January 19, 2017 | Oro Team

Choosing a viable CRM solution for a business boils down to understanding what software type matches your company’s objectives. The wrong product choice may result in costly mistake for the business. In order to prevent these mistakes, it is important to assess the advantages and disadvantages of various CRM distribution and development models and measure those against your own priorities to determine which option is going to work best for your company for the long haul.

To help you refresh and weigh all the merits of different CRM solution types and help you figure out how to choose the right CRM for your business, we start a two-series blog highlighting their general pros and cons. You can factor these points into your final decision on adopting a CRM system. The first part of our CRM types series focuses on open-source vs proprietary applications.

The Pros

Pros for Open-Source CRM Software

Many of the benefits of an open-source CRM software are found in the open nature of its source code. The flexibility and extendibility of CRM open-source software are also major benefits along with the advantages listed below:


With the open-source CRM software, customisations are easy, it’s just a matter of tweaking the open source code. Every company can modify and upgrade the product to perfectly tailor it to their own objectives.

Independence from vendor

CRM open-source users are free from vendor lock-in and are immune to any vendor restrictions, commitments or requirements.

Integrity and scalability

The possibility to integrate your customer relationship management software with virtually any external system or tool is one of the greatest advantages of an open-source CRM software.

Quick bug fixes

Because CRM open-source communities consist of many contributing developers from all around the world, bugs are being detected, reported, and fixed faster. Since developers can, at anytime, access the code, they are also able to apply their own improvements if necessary.

Pros for Proprietary CRM


Proprietary CRM systems are still considered to be less vulnerable to security issues due to their closed code. However, the question whether they can outperform their open-source counterparts in terms of security is questionable since open-source development communities constantly monitor their software for any security holes and breaches.

Single vision for the product

Sometimes proprietary CRM software built with a single product vision in mind can specifically address industry-related requirements which comes in handy for niche businesses. If product’s flexibility, scalability and customization capacity are not mission-critical for the company, and out-of-the-box functionality is enough, proprietary CRMs may bring you a better user experience. However, if you eventually crave for more features or extensions, and would want to tweak basic functionality to fit your business’s needs exactly, it will be difficult if possible to adjust the proprietary CRM solution.

Full stack

Once in a awhile small businesses may opt for  the “full scale” offerings provided by  proprietary vendors, in the first place  due to  the fact that it enables a faster start, even though the costs may sometimes be higher. To go up and running quickly is most often critical for start-up companies, as they don’t have to plan for scalability yet, but rather need an out-of-the-box solution that would cover their basic needs for the moment. Big proprietary software brands usually have the capacity to come up with a full stack solution, offering the whole portfolio of related business apps.

The Cons

Cons for Open-Source CRM Software

Limited support options

Unlike the proprietary product users, when facing problems, the open-source CRM consumers are usually unable to contact a 24/7 customer support center. However, most innovative open-source CRM vendors (OroCRM is one of them) are responsive to their client needs and offer commercial enterprise models that offer professional customer support.

Basic out-of-the-box functionality

Proprietary CRMs are usually filled with all sorts of features that are supposedly useful for the majority of their customers. Open-source CRMs (this doesn’t really refer to commercial enterprise-level versions) are typically designed to provide businesses with the most essential functions needed to get started. Using this foundation companies can then modify their CRMs and scale functionality according to their own business needs.

Cons for Proprietary CRM

Vendor lock-in

By adopting a proprietary CRM, you have to deal with a high probability of vendor lock-in. It will cost your company a fortune to switch to another product if you get unhappy with the current closed-source CRM, especially if you have signed up for a “full stack” solution.

Total cost of ownership

The proprietary systems are typically rather expensive to acquire and keep. The total cost of ownership (TCO) often includes hidden fees for updates, upgrades or advanced features.

Closed code

Closed-coded software can not be  iterated, modified or debugged unless the vendor is contacted. Furthermore, the customer have to wait for the issue to get fixed, which may take an unpredictable amount of time. The product’s closed source code also prevents users from making custom changes to address specific business requirements (if necessary).

Summing Up: Going Open-Source or Proprietary?

A proprietary CRM application might be right for you if your organization is not concerned about the applications’ initial costs or a high CRM and eCommerce TCO (total cost of ownership), if you’re sure your software won’t require any further customizations despite the business growth, if you don’t plan to integrate with a lot of external products (proprietary vendors mainly provide smooth integrations between their own solutions and a small number of other big names), and if the idea of the source code being unavailable to the general public looks appealing to you. However, if you appreciate a products flexible functionality and adaptability to the varying needs of a business, consider embracing an open-source CRM instead.

Stay tuned for the second part of our series on the types of CRM software unveiling advantages and disadvantages of the systems hosted in the cloud and on-premise.

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