A CRM for Drupal 8

If you run a web platform, you will sooner or later identify that a well integrated CRM is a mission critical piece for business success and the common use of proprietary CRM software is causing headaches.

MD Systems announces the Drupal CRM initiative in partnership with Trellon to build a Drupal 8 native open source CRM. Both parties will dedicate a significant amount of resources within the next 6 months to deliver a valuable standard product for change.

Experience with custom CRM integration

Over the past years MD Systems has integrated 15+ third party systems with CRM related functionality. These projects are cost intense and it is hard to build reusable components. Most systems are a bad match for web applications such as they have no generic REST API that is satisfying for deep integration. Instead many vendors sell custom APIs that are specific to a customer project.

Finding the right patterns to balance between deep integration and loose coupling of the systems is challenging. The CRM integration should not add too much complexity to the web application and still allow to work with common Drupal development patterns.

None of the systems were satisfying enough for a best practice recommendation to cover the needs for a majority of our customers.

Researching CRM

MD Systems highly recommends using specialised third party systems and integrating with them instead of reinventing their functionality inside the Drupal application. Drupal is a great platform for complex system integration and enterprise sites often consist of 5+ specialised systems. Still, Drupal needs to understand the third party system concepts, sometimes even sync data, to operate independently.

In 2013, we initiated a bachelor thesis to compare available Open Source solutions and propose a future proof CRM strategy. We came to the conclusion that a native basic CRM module is an important piece to act as framework component. It can either act as a standalone mini CRM or as a unified integration platform to connect to third party systems.

To use the available Drupal 7 framework component CRM Core and the distribution AbleOrganizer to ship an out-of-the-box product scored best for our criteria and we started developing a strategy for a next generation Drupal 8 port that will adopt the new patterns and identify misalignments in order to address them.

An Open Source CRM to reduce cost

While cloud based SaaS products are becoming popular, the need for true open source and lock-in free solutions is constantly rising. They allow true data ownership!

After a year of research with constant prototyping and after successfully gaining experience with other Drupal 8 focus projects, MD Systems is ready to build a next generation CRM system that covers our requirements and is a great fit for a wide variety of projects.

The project will focus on very specific use cases such as backing a peer to peer donation platform in early development cycles. This allows to reduce the minimum viable product and skip a broad variety of features. An agile process is established to complete the CRM for other applications.

CRM will become a game changer

The new version of CRM Core and AbleOrganizer will be developed as a joint effort of MD Systems and Trellon, the initiator of CRM Core. Additionally, a larger full week community sprint will be organised.

The CRM will allow easy upgrading of existing installations for early adopters.

Gaining maturity, the CRM will more and more become a game changer. Without adding significant cost to any website project, a customer will be able to benefit from CRM functionality and learn about new aspects of collecting data and establish a data driven strategy to grow his business.

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