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SugarCRM Implementation and Review
on-demand

I had the opportunity to project manage a SugarCRM implementation while working for a small not for profit in Rockville, MD. While open source CRM software has not achieved a measurable market share (at least not more than 1% of the total CRM software market according to Gartner), SugarCRM has probably made more advancement than any other open source customer relationship management solution. True to the open source promise, the product is ultimately customizable (as long as you have experienced PHP developers on staff) and the software acquisition price is right (free). However, the hidden costs in managing an open source CRM solution, whether customized or not, do quickly erode the procurement cost savings.

SugarCRM is a relatively mature SMB (small and midsize business) on demand CRM or on premise CRM solution. Because of its inherent simplicity, the product is easy to use and requires little training. However, its lack of feature sets and functionality pretty much limit this solution to small businesses. I've noticed there are very few SugarCRM software reviews which compare Sugar to more recognized commercial systems such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite and Aplicor - and I'm sure the reason is that such direct comparisons would not do this open source leader any favors.

SugarCRM offers a few different technology options. The application server is normally Apache, the database can be MS SQL Server or Sun MySQL and the operating system choices include Linux, Unix or Windows.

The technology infrastructure for this open source business software system has always left me scratching my head. First, I find it unusual (and unfortunate) that the application was developed in PHP and not in Java/J2EE. While PHP does provide a rapid development environment, it clearly also imposes performance and scalability limitations (a topic I'll address in more detail later) and is not the enterprise development environment that Java/J2EE is. PHP is a popular development language for web applications. However, PHP is an interpreted language. The compiled PHP code cannot be executed directly by the underlying operating system, and must instead use an intermediate software program to translate the PHP compiled code to a code to be executed by the operating system. The performance of interpreted languages is slower than native languages such as C or C++.

SugarCRM seems to promote the use of MS SQL Server over MySQL - something a bit unusual among open source advocates who generally prefer the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (or Perl or Python)) stack. For perceived safety and support, the IT Director insisted we only use SugarCRM on SQL Server and Windows - not something I envisioned when adopting an open source solution.

The Apache web server runs about 58 percent of all websites. It is perhaps one of the most pervasive software applications ever developed. Apache acts as an intermediate between the operating system and the PHP interpreter. Optimal Apache performance is crucial for respectable CRM system performance and time should be set aside for OS tuning and optimization on a periodic basis.

The technology stack component which generally delivers the least influence on SugarCRM application performance is the operating system. This is somewhat ironic as the OS offers the largest number of configuration options and is arguably the easiest to tune and optimize.

The CRM implementation go live event was almost one month ago. User reviews are mixed, system performance is generally reasonable and the solution is supporting most of the customer relationship management business objectives originally slated. The impetus most responsible for Sugar's selection (perceived free software) has not achieved the cost savings anticipated when factoring the IT administration and maintenance costs, nonetheless, for a small operating environment looking for a quick implementation, SugarCRM has met the need.

crm blog
sugarcrm review Posted: Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Under: SugarCRM
on-demand

Comments: kelly[at]crmgal.com
Trackback: http://www.crmgal.com/sugarcrm-review.htm

 

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