CRM systems present providers with all sorts of nightmares. Expensive to purchase and run, they are also often poorly understood (everyone knows we should have one but no one can quite say why!) and never used to full capacity.
They also have a reputation for failing to work with existing websites, MIS, finance systems and much more.
So meet CiviCRM. Civi is marketed for the charity sector; which is ironic as it is a perfect commercial CRm system that has another huge advantage. It is open source .. in other words no one owns it …. so no one can sell it. You can just download it from the web. Of course you might decide to pay an external organisation to tweak it for your specific needs (although it does work right “out of the box” for most things you will want).
Don’t be held hostage
Being open source means you are never going to be hostage to web designers .. internal or external. There is also a huge community of Civi developers out there and the way the open source community works is that once you’ve developed a new function you donate it to the community .. I know it sounds weird but if you have Civi you were given it free and this repays the debt and advances the software for everyone!
The other big advantage is that it works with robust CMS systems like Drupal and even WordPress.
The other great thing is that it will integrate with your website. So if you want to use the autoresponder functionality (most CRM systems have an email function with far fewer functions) it works extremely well. If you are a LinkedIn member you will find several Civi groups on LI .. where advice is freely given
I’ve a lot more info on CiviCRM if you want it .. just drop me an email. Or go to http://civicrm.org/