CiviCRM at Circle
As announced a few weeks ago, a meet-up for CiviCRM users and developers was held on Thursday 10th February last at Bristol’s CREATE Centre (news passim), ably led by Circle Interactive‘s Dave Morton, who was being assisted by our old friend Sean Kenny.
The main aims of the get-together were to discuss how the CiviCRM community gets together and communicates.
A brief run round the room revealed that most users had implemented CiviCRM as Drupal users. It can also be integrated with Joomla, although Joomla was felt to be more restrictive (the latest version of Joomla offers more scope. Ed.), whilst Drupal integration was more flexible. We’re promised the next version of CiviCRM will be better for Joomla.
One point that was raised was integration with WordPress, the popular blogging platform. This provided an opportunity to introduce Make It Happen, where users could vote for and make donations for various ideas on the wish list and other ways of contributing to the project.
At some time in the 2-hour session, the subject of user training was raised. This was not felt to be a problem, or even necessary. In Sean’s words: “If you can use eBay, you can use Civi”. (Nuff said. Ed.) However, one user believed that training is required on number of Civi’s features that are needed and how to tailor it to the individual organisation, as well as training materials that can be readily accessed.
What impressed your correspondent was the wide variety of uses to which other people in the room put or were planning to put CiviCRM – case management for criminal lawyers (no snide remarks about lawyers, please! Ed. 😉 ), church administration, schools and my own particular favourite: Bristol Wireless’ old mate John Palfrey has plans to use CiviCRM for tracking drilling kit around the country/world. Dave Morton summarised this succinctly: “It’s so customisable it can be used in innumerable ways”.
CiviCRM’s open source aspect was a great plus for users, particularly in the light of the restrictive licensing arrangements and high cost of proprietary alternative CRM packages. Points raised included the moral aspect of using open source, whilst John Palfrey encapsulated the discussion perfectly, stating, “We need to make people aware of open source alternatives and tell people not to fall for marketing hype”.
Some examples of Civi use were highlighted. For instance, both major US political parties – the Democrats and Republicans – use CiviCRM for campaigning. The largest roll-out to date is believed to be by the Senate of the state of New York with 63 offices. Over this side of the pond, the Green Party nationally is a CiviCRM user, as are some constituency parties of the other political parties.
As regards promotion, it was felt that this was needed amongst Drupal users and developers and the idea of a CiviCRM stall at Drupal conferences was raised. Could one be seen at London’s Drupalcon in September?
After the formal end of the session, the majority (all but 2. Ed.) of the approx. 20 participants adjourned to the nearby Nova Scotia Hotel to continue discussions over pints of brown, foaming liquid. 🙂