The Future is Open

Fresh Ground in Partnership

Andrew Dyson

The Future is Bright

the future is Open

Client Management in Reach

The use of appropriate technology has the potential to play a huge and positive role in our sector. In this article HLG take a closer look at Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems and explore a revolution in open source software that presents a huge opportunity for all of us.

A CRM system can record all interactions between a client and an organisation, manage procedures, streamline information between different stakeholders and improve outcomes through personalisation. It also has the added advantage of running any number of real-time reports at the touch of a button.

CRM systems have been widely used in the commercial world for many years but technology has moved on. More and more business applications are offered free, so a rapid migration to 'open source' software is occurring. 'Open-Source' can be defined as computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

Or in plain English, it's free to download by anyone who wants to adapt it to fit bespoke requirements.

Most of us will be familiar with software that is free to download and easy to use. Mozilla Firefox, Google's Android and Skype are just three examples being used by millions of people every day. Perhaps of most interest to the homelessness and supported housing sector are the advances being made in open source data management systems, particularly in the form of CRM's. Such systems are no longer the new kid on the block. In fact, most organisations probably fall into one of three categories.

  1. Those with a fit for purpose system who are already reaping the benefits a good CRM system can offer
  2. Those who embraced CRM early on and who are now struggling with a cumbersome system with countless add-ons which takes more time to manage than the paperwork it replaced in the first place, but who dread the time, cost and upheaval a complete overhaul would entail
  3. Those who would love to move to CRM but who haven't yet made the leap often for reasons associated with size and/or financial constraints.

Even if your organisation is in the first category, you are probably paying out for annual licence fees and costly 'per user' charges. If you fit into category two or three then a software revolution could be just the answer you have been looking for.

The benefits of such a change are much more than financial. An excellent CRM system must surely be one which places the clients' needs at its centre and allows the organisation to react to and support those needs in a consistent and progressive way. Alongside that, other common features of a system might include:

  • Ease of use
  • Ability to grow with an organisation
  • Integration into other organisational functions (e.g. HR, Finance, Monitoring and Reporting)
  • Robust and Secure

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