When we decided Placement Edge needed a new Client Center, we researched solutions for months – trying to find the best way to accomplish everything we needed.
We wanted quote requests and orders from the site to go into our CRM and for customers to view estimates and track project statuses. We also needed a way for clients to upload documents associated with estimates or projects. A ticket system was also required, and support e-mails needed to be converted to a ticket automatically. In all, our feature list was massive:
- Project tracking and collaboration with multiple permission levels
- Billing & Invoicing
- Hosting management and automatic account provision (similar to WHMCS)
- CRM integration, with clients being able to update contacts on the front end
- Document management (contracts, project collateral, product documentation)
- Support – Ticket system
- PPC & SEO Reporting – Semi-automatic SEO report creation for both traditional SEO and local SEO projects, Automatic PPC reporting for most programs
- Login management – since we create thousands of accounts for our clients, we need a way to share those logins should they ever need to access one of the sites.
- Easy Access – Google Analytics graphs, Adwords data, rank checking, etc
After all of our research, we were close to using WHMCS but their software is not easy to customize and is built primarily for provisioning servers.
The best solution for us? Drupal or WordPress. Since I am a huge fan of WordPress, we decided to use a custom WordPress install. By making a WordPress install visibility only to logged in users, and creating users automatically with vTiger, we were able to setup the skeleton of our control panel. Once you have the skeleton built, you can use API’s to integrate software you already use – FreshBooks and Basecamp have plugins available, or if you want the best integration you can use their API’s.
WordPress worked best for us, primarily because PlacementEdge.com was built on WordPress but also because of it’s rapid deployment and straight forward plugin creation.