Monday, October 06, 2014

10 Best Free CRM

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s one of the saddest facts in my life, right up there with my insane student debt and the realization that Taylor Swift will probably never talk to me.
But there’s good news! I just saved a bunch of money by switching to… no, I’m kidding.
The real good news is that, while lunch may not be free, Customer Relationship Management software can be!
Free stuff is exciting!
Free stuff is exciting!
Free CRM comes in two categories – free, but limited (also known as freemium), and open source.
So the free, but limited versions offset caps on the amount of free users, contacts, storage, extra features, or some combination thereof.
Open source, on the other hand, offers an unlimited, fully functional CRM to users. The caveat is that your company needs a person (or team) who can install and configure the CRM. Of course, because of this, open source CRM is extremely customizable, which is nice. Most open source CRM companies also offer a preconfigured version and/or installation and support for a price.
Where can you find these magical free CRMs? Well, I put together a list for you! Check out the comparison chart below and read the details about the CRM systems that interest you.
Please note that I have not placed these in any particular order. Each system is different and each one will serve some companies better than others.
Free CRM Comparison

1. SuiteCRM

SuiteCRM
SuiteCRM is an open source alternative to SugarCRM and is actually based on Sugar’s open source version. Sugar’s open source product is extremely stripped down, and as one reviewer put it “SuiteCRM is the best of all worlds. It’s based on Open Source Sugar, but uses Open Source add-ons to make it close to, if not better than, the ‘Pay’ Sugar.”
Suite offers a preconfigured version for those users who don’t have the ability to install/configure in house. The upgrade fee for that is £10 or roughly $16.40 a month.

2. CapsuleCRM

CapsuleCRM
Capsule is free for up to two users with 10 MB of storage, and 250 contacts. To upgrade, it’s $12/user/month. With the upgrade comes two gigabytes of storage, 50,000 contacts, and integration with such applications as Mailchimp andFreshbooks.
Capsule’s best feature, according to its many glowing reviews, is its ability to integrate with at least 33 other software programs, including Mailchimp, Freshbooks, and Gmail.
In fact, according to the reviews, the only place Capsule is really lacking as a system is its customer support. While they have a FAQs section as well as helpful articles posted on their page, if you need any help after hours, you’re sunk. In addition, they offer no direct phone service. Rather, you must submit a form, though they do claim to call you back within a single business day.

3. Insightly

insightly
Insightly claims on its homepage to be the “#1 online small business CRM.” I have no evidence to corroborate this particular claim, but I can tell you that they offer a great free program and a very friendly website.
Insightly offers their system free for three users, 2,500 records (which they define as any stored item from contact to note), 200 megabytes of storage and ten custom fields. Perhaps most importantly, Insightly offers free users full product support! The upgrade fee is $7/user/month and includes 100,000 records, unlimited storage, and Mailchimp integration.
As they say on their homepage, Insightly is great for small businesses. For many small businesses three users is really more than enough. However, many reviewershave mentioned that Insightly is not ideal for bigger businesses, particularly because its functionality is not capable of handling the demands of a larger business. One particular example cited is that the email integration lacks a lot of user functionality that other CRM platforms don’t think twice about.

4. Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems claims to be the best CRM system for small businesses. (But it does not claim to be the #1 online CRM for small business, so there’s no rivalry with Insightly.)
Really Simple Systems offers a free two user system that includes 100 accounts (business that you deal with), unlimited contacts within those accounts, tasks, and 100MB of storage. To upgrade to five users with the same functionality, it’s $15/user/month.
Customers love Really Simple Systems because it’s actually really simple and they offer excellent customer support. I honestly struggled to find the problems people had with this system, that’s how much users love it.
However, I did manage to dig up one con to keep in mind. Cloudpro’s review, while generally praising this CRM, does mention that Really Simple Systems offers more limited functionality, and so works best for small businesses compared to large or enterprise ones.

5. FreeCRM

FreeCRM
Here’s another CRM that claims to be #1 at something. This time its #1 at online free CRM software for business (so again, technically no rivalry!).
This free version comes with five free users, 2,500 contacts, and all the basic features. The upgrade fee is $14.95/user/month for more features, storage, and support. Two major drawbacks up front: you only get one year free, and no customer support.
So what makes FreeCRM worth it? First, their upgraded system is actually one of the most affordable CRMs on the market. Second, it’s a web-based solution, so you don’t need to create an expensive and time-consuming infrastructure to host it on, meaning pretty much anyone can get it up and running with ease.

6. Bitrix24

Bitrix24
I like Bitrix a lot because it offers really flexible price options. I like flexibility. For a completely free account you get 12 users, five GB of storage and the ability to do anything you want with that storage, which is already a pretty sweet deal.
This is how it gets better. The upgrade fee to get unlimited users and 50 gigs of storage is $99, but if you’re not feeling that cause really all you needed was a few more users, or maybe just more storage… Bitrix totally hears you! They offer an additional 12 users to the same program for $25/user/month. And/or if you want more storage they offer a tiered pricing plan on that up to one TB.
So that’s the pricing.
Overall, reviewers find Bitrix to be a very easy-to-use system. In addition, itsdocument management feature is well integrated and extremely useful.
The drawback that reviewers all point out is that Bitrix’ aesthetics are a little rough at points. One reviewer mentioned that they use a flashing clock in the corner to remind users to timestamp all activities, which I could easily imagine is quite obnoxious.

7. Raynet

Raynet1
Raynet markets itself as an easy-to-use, does-it-all CRM. It’s free version allows for two users, 150 accounts, 50MB of storage, and full customer support. Upgrade to 20,000 accounts and one TB of storage for just $19/user/month.
Raynet’s system is very aesthetically pleasing and features an “account card” (featured above) where you can glean most of the information you need about a customer from a single glance, including how much they’re worth to your company.
All that said, Raynet is a fairly new company, and the fact that it’s headquartered in the Czech Republic may make support difficult for U.S.-based companies (though they have an office in Florida).  Additionally, perhaps because it’s such a recent entrant to the American CRM market, there is not yet much third party information or reviews on software.

8. vTiger

vTiger
vTiger is an open source CRM, that is also based on Sugar. vTiger was actually originally a part of Sugar, but both have since gone their own ways.
While you can download and install the open source version of the software for free yourself, vTiger does offer several preconfigured versions starting as just $12/user/month. In addition, vTiger also offers installation, support, hardware, and/or administration for a price. It integrates with MailChimp, Intuit and Paypal, among others.
One thing that vTiger does really well is offer a wide array of features for very cheap, even on the preconfigured level. These features include billing, inventory tracking, and project management capabilities, all of which are fairly unusual to find in any CRM system.
From reviews, it would appear as though a fairly important drawback to vTiger is the fact that it has compatibility issues with PHP 5.6 and above.

9. ZohoCRM

Zoho
Zoho is one of the big dogs of business software, so it’s pretty cool that they offer a free program. This CRM version is free for three users and 5,000 records. It comes with a mobile app and social CRM among other things. Their first step upgrade (for more users, features, and 100,000 records) is only $12/user/month.
Zoho is well known for being easy to use with highly developed importing features.
Unfortunately, Zoho is not as feature-rich as other CRMs on this list and has some quirks that take getting used to. An example that one reviewer used was that, when exporting from Zoho, you have to be very careful to ensure that there are no commas in any records, or else it will split up the record when putting it into Excel.

10. Zurmo

Zurmo
Zurmo is open source, and is unique on this list because it is also gamified. Zurmo was written on the principal that offering users incentives along the way makes users better employees. So the system sets goals, or ‘missions’ (which are different for different types of users) and then gives badges along the way to goal completion. It also allows coworkers to challenge each other to missions with set rewards at the end (like a gift card).
Currently, the biggest drawback to Zurmo is that it’s pretty new on the scene – which, being open source, can actually be a bit of a bother. Zurmo’s open source version lacks some fairly basic features such as social CRM.  This, of course, is unlikely to remain a problem the longer it sticks around.
Zurmo does offer a preconfigured version for $32/user/month.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Free Trello and other alternatives

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Online Calendars Tips And Tricks

Calendar management is an essential skill for productive teams. Are your team members using their calendars effectively? 
Create a Single Access Point 
Multiple calendars make it easy to overlook events and deadlines. A single access point helps you to see everything you have ahead. Seeing all of your responsibilities, events, projects, due dates, and scheduled activities in one place enables you to avoid the dangerous practice of overbooking yourself. If you have multiple calendars for family, personal life, team projects, and your work schedule, do what it takes to get them all funneled into one, single-access place so you can see the big picture. 

Use Labels, Colors, or Access Points to Differentiate 
When your calendar involves multiple projects, people, and priorities, things can get fuzzy and crowded pretty quickly. Your single access point lets you see the big picture, but your coding system - whether by labels, colors, or varying access points to different calendars - will let you zoom in on the details. 

Block Your Time on Your Calendar 
A task, or to-do item, is not a calendar event. It is not an activity tied to a specific time; it is simply something you need to do. Filling your calendar up with tasks will result in a lot of task shuffling and rearranging at the end of the day. Simplify. Instead of assigning a time/date to tasks that simply need to be done - soon - put them all in a task list. Sort your task lists by project, then block time on your calendar for the project that needs your attention. Treat that “time block” as an appointment. Find the appropriate task list, turn off the distractions, and focus on completing those tasks. When the time is up, update your task list and block additional time on your calendar as needed. 

Use Your Calendar to Care for Yourself 
No one can move timelessly from one event or task to another. Schedule in a buffer, a transition time, between appointments, events, and time blocks. This is not a luxury, but a part of reality. Transitions take time; allowing for that time makes a lot more sense than pretending it’s not there. Alternate the type of work you do in order to give yourself a mental break. Our brains function best with a variety of work. Make it a habit, as much as possible, to alternate: visual work, then text-based work, or interactive work, then solitary work. Schedule in times for physical activity, rest, and downtime. Schedule time to “be at home” with nothing on the calendar. Schedule your bedtime. Schedule your off time. Use your calendar to mark off the things you need and give them to yourself. 

Do Three Daily Calendar Checks 
The point of a calendar is to keep you from the mental burden and confusion of having to remember all your time-based activities. But when you don’t regularly check your calendar, it won’t help you. Your brain will be trying to remember everything. And you will be exhausted. A morning check provides an overview: what’s on the agenda for the day, what might need to change, what’s coming up in the next few days. A midday check lets you see if you are still on track: any changes in the schedule, details to add or update, reminders of near-future events or deadlines that need your attention. An evening check gives you closure and tomorrow’s starting point: tasks completed, updated notes and reminders, events that have been rearranged, and priorities for the next day. There is no point in having a calendar if you do not use it habitually and teach your brain to depend on it. Imagine how it might feel not to have constant reminders and details circling your brain. Imagine a peaceful, quiet space in your mind. That would be good, wouldn’t it? 


Bitrix24 is a free online shared calendar and time management solution. Use promocode TIP10 whenregisteringyour free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB 

See also: 

- 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Workplace Productivity 
- Social HR 101: What is social intranet? 
- Best free internal communication software and tools 
- How to build successful inside sales team - tips from inside sales guru Josiane Feigon 
- Keith Burton: Email will never die 
- Plan your day BEFORE you check your email and other simple email lifehacks from Graham Allcott