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Can Alfresco Community really work for us?

Question asked by manufaktur on Jul 23, 2009
Latest reply on Jul 24, 2009 by manufaktur
We are (barely a) startup looking for one or more open-source and web-based applications for (1) sales and CRM and (2) enterprise content management (ECM) and running web sites. The idea is to have a content system/repository to manage detailed records of products and handle knowledge management, and use this data to power one or many sites or blogs.

[size=150]Sales and CRM[/size]

We operate in a fairly traditional industry where (face-to-face) selling and service is incredibly important. We need a competent tool that supports our sellers and allows them to follow-up on customers, that really streamlines all the work in the business, and that gives management an overview of the on-going current activities and sales. Equally important are workflow, i.e. being able to setup tasks ("step 1.. step 2"), checklists ("Have sent quote to customer… Have called customer regarding quote") and documents (contracts, brochures, diagrams, etc) for a specific sales.

SugarCRM Community Edtition looks like the most promising FOSS alternative right now as it is tailoed for CRM. But having spent the past days reading about Alfresco, it seems to be pretty competent when it comes to workflows, activities, handling documents, etc. So how about it: can Alfresco be customized to handle CRM? Are there any real world examples of this?

[size=150]Enterprise content and web sites[/size]

I've personally used and liked Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla and other open source CMSs, but for several reasons they don't seem like a good option for our startup. First of all, they are specifically designed for running web sites whereas we need a more powerful and more back end-y application to handle different types of enterprise content, mainly detailed and complex product data.

Ideally, we would like to use Alfresco to create a web site that re-uses created content, but I've realized that you might indeed have to use a separate CMS (Drupal, Joomla, etc) because the web site module of enterprise content applications are often lacking when it comes to SEO, layout templating, control over HTML code, etc, community features (user accounts, commenting on articles, etc). Alfresco seems very powerful but I am unsure how good it is at creating public web sites: is the SEO good? How much control are you given over the HTML output and/or layout templating? Ideally, Alfresco would be the back-end system to handle the content and to create completely tailored web sites.

[size=150]Connecting CRM and ECM[/size]

Obviously our sales team will require information from the enterprise content system, i.e. Alfresco. The most important feature is to be able to search through the content using custom-built search forms. Directly accessing content from the CRM would be excellent, but I doubt this level of integration between CRM and ECM is available out-of-the box. Of course, the best solution would be if Alfresco could handle all the content and CRM!

So, do you think we should use Alfresco?

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