I’m pretty excited right now, reviewing these CRMs. I think there’s so much out there, and as I mentioned before, we really aren’t a one-size-fits-all society. That’s why I think there’s so much value in experimenting with these tools and condensing the features into a summary for our audience. I think it will give you a broader window into what’s out there and maybe even save you some time as you make decisions for the good of your organization.
So let’s dive into WP-CRM System, a plugin authored by Scott DeLuzio. Today’s stats indicate it was just updated one week ago, there are more than 400 active installs, and two people have taken the time to review the tool—one of which is the author himself (it makes sense, that as the creator, he gave himself five stars) and the other voting it at three stars. By the end of this review, I’ll have a star rating to offer as well.
Summary of WP-CRM System
WP-CRM System has more features than a general-skeleton CRM. It includes the most important components, such as a Contact database and tracking of basic contact interactions, as well as a couple extras, such as breaking down projects into specific tasks and a repository for Opportunities and Campaigns. Besides this, there’s a whole array of add-ons, so it looks like this CRM plays well with others.
I found myself feeling comfortable with learning to use the system just by doing what seemed logical. I could take a look at the plugin dashboard and easily guess the purpose of each section. So, pretty intuitive. On the other hand, I wouldn’t call the dashboard visually engaging.
Bonus: I do like the cute round Elephant as their mascot. Cute!
WP-CRM System Core Features
- Organizations > Contacts
- Projects > Tasks
WP-CRM System Extensions
(Note that the majority of these add-ons must be bought as part of a bundle, rather than separately. This could have advantages unless you are on a tight budget and want only specific options.)
- Ninja Forms
- Gravity Forms
- Less Accounting
Also Add-ons for:
- Email Notifications
- Contact Creation from Users
- Custom Fields
- Importing Organizations
- Importing Contacts
- Importing Projects
- Importing Tasks
- Importing Opportunities
- Importing Campaigns
Digging into WP-CRM System
Though WP-CRM System has no at-a-glance visuals on your home dashboard, it does have its own dashboard that’s meant to give a bird’s-eye overview of your CRM activity and of the various tools for running the system. From here, you can see a listing of your open projects, tasks, campaigns, and opportunities.
Also on this homepage, alongside the Dashboard tab, are items such as licenses, categories (again), and some of the extensions.
One feature I liked here was the option to create a new contact or project or whatever right from this home base.
It seemed a little out of place to have general setup options, such as categories and system settings displayed ahead of my tasks, campaigns, and so on. I’m thinking I’d rather have all my action items above the fold and the setup stuff down further on the page.
Moving on, I went in and put the CRM components to the test. Added some contacts and orgs. Set up categories. Assigned projects and added tasks to them. Started a couple of campaigns and tied them to some new opportunities. For the most part, this went well. It was a simple matter of filling in the blanks, which seemed well thought out, allowing for things like adding a new category or a new organization from the contact setup window.
The workflow made sense. I could assign a task to a project, assign them to the organization or individual they were to be done for, and create a project from an opportunity.
I ran into problems trying to edit an item after the fact. Not all of the field headings are displayed at this point, so being a newbie, I’m unsure of myself. Of course, as I hover over the little icon pictured below, an editorial pencil shows up, and I discovered that this is the assignee field. Once again, a situation in which the visual component of the tool is weak. Larger icons might help, or possibly a view that shows the same field setup in edit mode as in create mode.
Another difficulty was reviewing lists of items after setup. Take a look at this list of tasks, for example. You don’t see any indication of whether these tasks are open or closed, who’s responsible for them, or if there’s a due date. That’s a little unhandy. And the opportunity list is the same way. No indication if it’s been won or lost, if it’s cold or hot, or who owns it.
On the other hand, some of this is remedied with reports. Although reporting doesn’t offer any search, sort, and filter options, a number of reports are preconfigured to display lists of tasks, projects, or whatever by user or by company or by due date, etc. You just have to know where to look for the information.
We went ahead and purchased the $199 package of extensions, which includes access to all of their extensions for one year, including any updates along the way. So I’m excited to tell you some of the features I found here.
Uploading the plugins was straightforward. At first, the link for one of them was broken, but they were right on top of it, and it was fixed by the next day.
Most of the extension configurations were obvious, since they had a place on the dashboard, each with its own tab. The import tools were all grouped under a single tab. The Gravity Forms Connect tool is found under Gravity Forms settings. The Create a Contact from a User tool totally eluded me, and I could find no support documentation on it. The Invoice tool has a tab for settings as well as its own WP-CRM dashboard.
Just a few notes here. Most of the extensions seemed fairly self-explanatory. However, I didn’t read the instructions before trying an import and screwed up a whole file of contacts. Be sure to download their example CSV file and make yours match it, or you just might get the same results I did!
The Invoicing tool didn’t send an email invoice, but rather a link to the site, which did not show the invoice either. I have to assume there’s some code involved that I’m not aware of. There also seemed to be a glitch if I wanted to create an invoice without assigning it to a particular project. There was no place given to enter a dollar amount to the invoice until after I saved the record.
I didn’t succeed in getting the MailChimp plugin to work at all. First, it had no merge field for email, and I don’t know that there’s much use in MailChimp outside of email.
Secondly, the “Send all contacts to MailChimp” button did not add my WP-CRM System contacts to MailChimp list, neither were my MailChimp contacts added to the CRM.
I couldn’t find the extension for converting users to contacts, though I did download and activate it. I was thinking it should be with Imports or somewhere on the Contacts or Users dashboards or maybe even on the main dashboard, but I didn’t see any hint of it.
I didn’t try out Zendesk, Ninja Forms, Less Accounting, Slack, or Dropbox.
There are some great aspects of this CRM, and I think top of my list is a straightforward, intuitive structure. Trying what seemed logical generally got me where I needed to go. Also, the basic system is set up pretty completely. I didn’t have to run through a lot of settings, field additions, and code insertions before I could start experimenting (a relief after my experience with Presspoint). You can cover a lot of bases with this tool. And it plays well with others, just like WordPress plugins are intended to do. Plenty of extensions are available to round out the whole.
Just a couple of bummers here. First is the visual experience. Small icons, poorly constructed layout, and not enough information on the basic dashboards stand out to me. Also, there were enough difficulties with the add-ons that my enthusiasm was somewhat curbed by the time I was done. Hopefully there will be some fixes on some of the issues mentioned here and the process will be smoother in the future.
Overall this tool feels like I sometimes feel about a DIY home improvement project. I start with great intentions and grand plans of all the features I want to include in my project. About the middle of the project my enthusiasm begins to wane and while I’ve built a great framework of features, I don’t get around to finishing them and making them great. If this tool had focused their effort on about half of the features and done them excellently, I think it would have been a much more usable tool. As it is, there are a lot of rough edges and loose ends.
First of all, let me review my 5 criteria and why I chose them.
- Core System — this is the system I downloaded without any extra add-ons. I’ll be giving this rating based on how robust and on-point those features seem to be.
- Front-End Integration — it’s important that the tools available in a CRM “speak” with the front end of your site, as this is how you automate the collection of data.
- Ease of Use and UX — naturally, the more intuitive a program is, the quicker it is to become familiar with it. Something like 60% of CRM implementations fail because of poor user adoption. If your CRM system is unintuitive, it doesn’t matter how great the feature set is if your users aren’t going to use it.
- Add-Ons/Integrations — that’s what WordPress is all about, right? Having the flexibility to build a system that fits your needs. To do that, you need a variety of building blocks to choose from.
- Customer Support —this one is pretty important for me (after UX) in learning a new program. I love browsing through help documents and watching tutorials. And if that doesn’t cut it, I look for the chat box or some contact information.
Score for WP-CRM System
- Core System — 3.4 (Mostly because there are a lot of rough edges)
- Front-End Integration — 3.9 (This has great integrations with tools like Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms)
- Ease of Use/UX — 3.7 (Structure is decent. Rough edges in implementation)
- Add-Ons/Integrations — 3.8 (There are a decent number of integrations but had some issues getting some of them to work.)
- Customer Support — 3.2 (I’m going solely by their available manuals and tutorials here.)
Total Score = 3.6