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Recommended Host for SugarCRM
What is SugarCRM?
Sugar Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software provides users with a centralized, flexible system for tracking sales leads, managing customer accounts, and handling customer support. It also supports project and campaign management.
Customer Relationship Management
One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is the process of customer development and retention. From developing leads to marketing campaigns to providing support for well-established customers you can’t afford to lose, the relationships you develop with your customers are a critical component of building a successful company. To keep your customers happy and your business “on the grow,” you need a way to monitor every step of the process.
SugarCRM is an open source customer relationship management (CRM) application. Organisations can store details for suppliers and contacts, and keeps a central record of all interactions with those contacts. SugarCRM is a popular CRM because it's provided on many hosting packages for free. It's also very easy to set up; many web hosts offer it as a 1-Click installer. Even if you have a small budget for hosting, you should have no problem finding a shared package that provides it.
There are three paid versions of SugarCRM: Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. These are purchased directly from the company. There's also a free Community Edition, and that's the software you'll see offered with web hosting accounts.
The Community Edition is a trimmed down version of the paid SugarCRM, but it still functions perfectly well for charities and non-commercial use.
The Community Edition of SugarCRM is available under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License. It's designed for non-profit organisations, and there is no limit to the number of users that can have accounts. Non-profits can use the tool to stay on to of valuable contacts, manage funding and make sure they comply with any legal requirements around data storage and data protection.
The license gives non-profits and educational institutions the rights to customise the software. There's an expectation that customisations will be contributed back to the developer community so that other non-profits can benefit from their work.
SugarCRM is designed to run on Linux servers (specifically, servers running the LAMP stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). However, it's possible to run SugarCRM on other operating systems, including Windows with IIS. On Windows, you'd have the option of using MS SQL or Oracle for the database.
Users can interact with SugarCRM using a variety of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari 7 and Internet Explorer 9 or 10.
The Community Edition of SugarCRM is developed largely by volunteers in the open source community. It has a slimmed down feature set compared to the paid versions, and includes the following features:
- Auditing tools
- Contact records
- Process management
- Document storage
- Lead tracking
- Tracking for opportunities
- Marketing tools, such as campaign tracking and email marketing measurements
This edition is only designed for business-to-business (B2B) use, and it does not have business-to-consumer (B2C) utilities. It also has no ability to manage contracts, products, quotes or sales, either.
Pros and Cons
It's quite rare to find free CRM software, since so many packages are provisioned in the cloud via a subscription model. That means SugarCRM is a good choice if you want to try a CRM to find out what it does. If you run a non-profit or charity, even the basic set-up will give you all the tools you need. The company behind CRM has received millions of dollars of investment, ensuring its continual growth and massive popularity. Analysts say that there are 1.5 million people using the software, and it's likely that a huge majority are using the Community Edition.
While the basic feature list is small, SugarCRM doesn't have to run with default settings alone. Like other packages such as WordPress, SugarCRM can be extended with plug-ins to enhance its functionality. You will find a directory of extensions at SugarForge, and it's well worth playing around with these to unleash the real power of SugarCRM.
Resource is worth mentioning, though. The storage and bandwidth offered with your hosting package apply to all of the applications you're using. A CRM can be a drag on those resources, particularly bandwidth, and uploading large documents will have an impact over time.
Buying cloud software can get expensive, particularly when you pay a set price per month, and most CRM software would be unaffordable for a non-profit on that pricing model. That's probably why this free CRM has been downloaded more than 9 million times. But one thing you might miss is management, so you will have to spend some time hardening and securing the software to ensure those precious contact records never fall into the wrong hands.
SugarCRM Frequently Asked Questions
What is SugarCRM?
SugarCRM is a company, based in Cupertino, CA, that produces the Sugar CRM application.
What is CRM?
CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM software is designed to handle sales, marketing and customer relations, with the goal of automating the process as much as possible.
What are the goals of SugarCRM?
The company’s stated goals are to address two problems they see as common in the CRM market: A reluctance on the part of sales and support personnel to use a CRM package and the expense of deployment. In particular, CRM software works best when every employee who interacts with customers has access to it, and SugarCRM’s goal is to make it affordable for companies to deploy it to all such employees. At the same time, the company works hard to make sure that Sugar is an intuitive solution that sales and support personnel can easily use.
How does Sugar set itself apart from other CRM offerings?
How much does Sugar cost?
Until version 7, SugarCRM released commercial and open source versions of the software. With the version 7 release, however, SugarCRM decided to discontinue development of the open source version, called Sugar Community Edition. SugarCRM promised to continue maintaining and supporting version 6.5 of the Community Edition, but there would be no new development. In view of the demise of the Community Edition, the remaining versions of Sugar are all commercial editions. There are several options, depending on an organization’s needs and budget. Sugar Professional offers the following features: sales automation and forecasting, marketing lead management, support automation, call center automation, reporting & dashboards, SugarCRM Mobile, cloud or on-premise deployment, 15GB storage, unlimited studio customizations, and unlimited online support. Sugar Enterprise adds: enterprise opportunity management, enterprise forecasting, customer self-service portal, custom activity streams, native SQL reporting, phone support, 60GB storage, and 2 sandbox instances (On-Demand). Sugar Ultimate adds: 24x7 support, assigned technical account manager, 250GB storage, and up to 5 sandbox instances (On-Demand).
Why did SugarCRM stop developing the open source version?
The company says that the open source version was primarily attracting developers who wanted to build on top of Sugar, as well as new users who were exploring options and primarily interested in a free CRM solution. The company expressed their belief that the open source version did not properly meet the needs of both groups and wanted to look at other options.
What platforms does Sugar run on?
Sugar is optimized for the LAMP stack. A stack is a group of applications that work together to form a complete solution. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. LAMP is the most common web and application hosting stack. Sugar can also run on other stacks, provided they support PHP, including Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows. It can also use Microsoft’s IIS web server instead of Apache, as well as alternative databases, such as Oracle or MS SQL.
How popular is Sugar?
Because of its wealth of features, flexible deployment and tiered pricing structure, Sugar has established itself as a leading CRM solution. The software has well over 1.5 million users in over 120 countries. Its partner network consists of 350 partners on six continents. While headquartered in Cupertino, CA, the company also has locations in Raleigh, Munich, Sydney, London, Paris and Minsk.
Is Sugar right for you?
If you are in the market for an extremely powerful CRM application that goes a long way toward addressing some of the issues with existing offerings, then Sugar may be a good option. Its innovative approach towards engagement, its flexibility and the relative degree of future-proofing it offers are all compelling reasons to look at the application. For some users, however, the sudden decision to no longer develop and release new versions of the open source Community Edition may be a deal-breaker. Some users and developers were disenchanted with the company’s decision. In spite of that, however, there is a reason that Sugar consistently ranks among the top CRM applications on the market. In view of the streamlined focus on products that it can charge for, it stands to reason that the company will be able to better spend resources adding features that paying customers want and need. All of the above make Sugar an excellent choice for companies and organizations who can afford the cost of the software.