Wow, how did that happen? We forked SugarCRM Community Edition in October 2013. We’re rapidly approaching 3 years of solo flying and the months have passed in the blink of an eye.

As has become my practice, it’s time for a review of the year.

It’s worthwhile stating why we do this. It’s relatively simple. CRM has the capability to transform an organisation’s operations. We’re passionate about doing that. A well implemented CRM application should be one of the most important business applications that a company operates. It should be a catalyst for efficient operations and meaningful business insights that drive strategic decision making.

The world of CRM is littered with failures. CRM fails more often than it succeeds. Many CRM applications are little more than standard out-of-the-box implementations that are not aligned with business operations.

Too much of the CRM implementation and operation budget is consumed by license fees. With Salesforce in particular, these are mouth-wateringly expensive and hard to justify. Licenses consume budgets. The most important budget in a CRM implementation project should be for aligning the software with processes and for training. In reality, for most projects, the single highest part of the budget is licenses. Alignment with business process is an afterthought. Users get software that does not closely reflect their needs. They revert to spreadsheets and other inelegant methods to compensate. The efficiency gains and business intelligence don’t come from CRM. CRM fails to deliver on potential.

That’s what drives us. We want to make CRM succeed.

To do that we need to take Salesforce down. Salesforce leads directly to more CRM failures than any other vendor on the planet. Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, is one of the world’s richest men. He is running a loss-making business that sells a commodity at mouth-wateringly high prices. He pays himself north of $60m a year and tops that up with selling his stock in the company – the company that’s losing money. Benioff is worth billions. His salespeople are among the most highly remunerated in the industry. It’s an impressive trick. But it’s a trick that impacts his customers directly. It leads to more failure than it does success. Customers are paying to enrich Benioff and his salespeople. They are not paying for software that delivers.

When Salesforce announces their first round of lay-offs, the world of CRM will be in a better place. More organisations will be spending more of their implementation budgets on the parts that truly add value – their processes and their people. More organisations will succeed with CRM.

That’s why we continue to build the world’s best CRM as a completely free and open source application. Because more companies will succeed.

Want the headline news? We estimate that we have competed head to head with Salesforce eight times in the last 12 months. All have been for corporates with a turnover of more than a billion dollars. Two have been for companies with a turnover of more than 50 billion dollars.

We have won each and every time.

When the corporates get down and dirty with Salesforce and do a like-for-like comparison, they all reach the same conclusion. Salesforce is hugely over-priced commoditised business logic and the Emperor has no clothes. At full price a Salesforce project is up to twenty times what a SuiteCRM project costs. A Salesforce project takes on average three times as long to complete. A Salesforce project on average involves three times as many man days to achieve the same end point. So, not only over-priced, but bloated, not agile and very cumbersome.

If we add in Salesforce migrations, and assume a three year window, we estimate we have taken $400 million out of the Salesforce ecosystem. It might be a mosquito biting the arse of an elephant but the mosquito is growing and the elephant is showing signs of age. Within this we are only measuring what we know. If we factor in the lost opportunity cost – those organisations that download, deploy and drive value from SuiteCRM that would otherwise have used Salesforce – the impact will be appreciably greater.

That does not mean that we have earned $400 million (yet). Our projects are considerably less costly and they are three to five year strategic projects. We believe in interative, incremental, agile projects. We do not seek to consume large budgets as fast as possible. We remain customer-centric. We are focused on customer wins not quarterly earnings. This might not be what money men want to hear, but it keeps our customers happy.

Our enterprise customers have been the big winners. They’re not spending the huge sums that Salesforce arrogantly expected them to. They are innovating rapidly and delivering value from closely aligned solutions. It is hugely energising that many of these large corporate clients are also donating code back to the project – lots of it. The benefits of this code will become apparent in 2017. If I was a Salesforce shareholder I would be nervous. Some great things are happening and they are happening at a speed that the monoliths cannot match.

25 years ago this year Linux was released. First they ignored it, then they disparaged it, then it overwhelmed them, now they praise it. History is repeating itself with CRM.

From humble beginnings in 2013, with a small team and huge determination, we’ve grown rapidly. We’re four times the size we were in 2013. We have a full-time development team working on the project. We continue to deliver according to our mission – every line of code being released as open source. Here are some of the milestones:

  • BOSSIE award 2015 for the world’s best open source CRM
  • 500,000+ downloads
  • 8 major releases
  • 30+ point releases
  • Community of 30,000+
  • Projects in USA, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Italy …
  • Code contributions from customers and community
  • 80+ ecosystem vendors

We’re by no means complacent. We have huge ambitions for the software. Scalability, voice activated mobile solutions for road warriors, integration libraries, On:Demand, code refactoring, usability, portal extensibility. The list is long, there is a lot to do but we will not be satisfied until we complete the task of making SuiteCRM unarguably the best CRM on the planet. And we will keep every line of code written by the project as open source and free to acquire. There is no other agenda.