We have several customers interested in adding CRM to their Drupal sites, so today I hopped on a conference call with a working group developing CRM tools for Drupal 7. It's a small group, but it sounds like they are making good progress with the Party module, to serve as glue between all the various items that might end up in your database, to de-duplicate and associate them as a single entity.
The question is, what is CRM, and why build another in Drupal?
Besides being a buzz-word that everyone thinks they need, without really understanding or agreeing on what it means, it's really just formalizing your process of how you interact with customers and potential customers. CRM is "Customer Relationship Management," and in the old days, might be a tickler file a sales person used to remind themselves of when to follow up with a potential customer.
There are lots of CRM systems out there. Salesforce is the biggy right now, but there are several open source systems who have carved out a decent niche: SugarCRM, CiviCRM, vTiger, and others already provide a finished CRM product. Why on earth would you choose to create another one in Drupal?
- You already have a Drupal system with a lot of customer data in it, and having CRM integrated in the site makes it much more effective, less expensive, easier to start using, than trying to integrate another solution.
- You don't need much CRM -- or the existing systems are too overwhelming to start out with. Drupal's modular nature means you can start with just a couple entities, add the features you know you need right now, and add more later. You might start out with "Contacts" with two types -- leads and customers for example, and an "Activity" type to track your contacts with them, past and future. Then build a view to show you what activities are next on your list.
More to come...