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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 License

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.

Features

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:

  • Accounts
  • 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.

Hosting Considerations

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

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