Sugar CRM Review
“So there I was, spending quality time careening through the trees on my mountain bike, wondering what to do with my life. And then it hit me.” This is how many of my ideas happen. Also, many colossal biking accidents. But very few of those ideas continue like this: “I’ll start a global, award-winning, multi-million dollar software company that partners with the biggest names in the industry to produce the most versatile CRM solution on the market.” If my ideas ever continued this way, I would sure as heck name the company after my mountain bike. This is exactly the story of Sugar CRM.
Sugar’s founder, John Roberts, tells this story of his mountain bike named Sugar. But most people know the name not because of the backstory, but because of the finished product. Sugar gained early traction in the CRM market and ramped up very quickly, taking tips from Microsoft’s early years; Creating software with an open-source structure invites the best programmers to come to you and leaves the door wide open to gather up the best ideas. These are the principles that give Sugar its adaptability to a wide range of businesses.
In the 10+ years that the software has been in development, it has attracted over $116 million in venture capital, propelling Sugar to the forefront of the industry. To date, Sugar boasts over 1.5 million users across 120 countries. Sugar CRM is clearly prepared to support the scope of large and enterprise-sized businesses, and even some governmental departments. The Ministry of Education in New Zealand has implemented Sugar CRM.
However, impressive credentials do not guarantee a perfect fit. To see if Sugar is the right CRM for you, read on.
There is a free 7-day trial of SugarCRM, which does not require a credit card. After that, annual subscriptions can be purchased, with a 10 user minimum, as follows:
- Professional: $40 /user/month, billed annually
- Enterprise: $65 /user/month, billed annually
- Ultimate: $150 /user/month, billed annually
The 7-day free trial comes populated with plenty of demo data so you can see how Sugar can work for you. You can switch between 5 different pre-made personas to see how Sugar works with different kinds of employees. This is a wonderful feature that I have not seen in any other CRMs.
For more information on Sugar’s pricing options, please see the website.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
- iOS: Requires iOS 8.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- Android: 4.0 and up.
Specific Size of Business (or Company Size):
SugarCRM is an enterprise level service and designed for larger businesses. While a small team can still absolutely make use of it, it may be a bit of overkill if you’re just starting out with CRM solutions. The software can be modified to suit the complex needs of an enterprise-sized company, especially one with its own software development team that can further specialize the CRM user experience.
Ease of Use:
The Dashboard: My first experience with the Sugar software was very positive. My free trial didn’t dump me into an empty workspace, with no ability to really see it in action. Instead, I hit the ground running with the best trial-version approach I have ever seen in CRM software. Sugar has taken the time to create five user presets, consisting of a variety of employee roles, each pre-populated with plenty of demo data. It was easy to see how everyday functions would work in a hypothetical environment, without first importing massive amounts of real-life data. The last thing my clients need is an email about a phony meeting I set up while trying out my new CRM. While these presets are a superb way to trial-run the software, it does assume that the user is already proficient with CRM dashboards. Considering that Sugar aims its products to larger companies, this is reasonable. But I want users of all stripes to be forewarned.
I can confidently say that there are no glaringly missing features, and if you are familiar with a web dashboard, the features are within easy navigation. Learning the ins and outs of the software will require some time, but the folks at Sugar have made some improvements in customer service and self-service tools to help you along the way.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Sugar CRM has increased its technical and customer support staff since the last review as well as the level of employee training to ensure that service reps actually know what they’re talking about. Still, technical support on a corporate level often falls to the shoulders of internal IT staff, unless there is some blatant issue with the software itself. In those cases, customer support can be accessed through the following channels:
- Self Service – Sugar CRM provides an online knowledge base, blog, training webinars, community forums, and other articles and resources to assist with the software.
- Enhanced Support. Enhanced support, which includes email and phone support, comes with Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Sugar CRM. Customer Service can be contacted at 1-877-842-7276 or by emailing email@example.com.
- Directory – Global phone and email directory
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
The mobile app has 3.5 out of 5 stars in Google Play with 205 total reviews. Apple users give it 3.5 out of 4 stars with 28 ratings. Considering the scope of Sugar CRM’s user base, I’d say the most reliable reviews will come from your own team. Take advantage of the demo version of Sugar CRM to really get a feel for how the software will work in your environment. That being said, here are a few user complaints to look out for:
“Since update the mobile app is barely usable. Don’t get me wrong, there have always been issues with sugar mobile, but this latest update has broken everything. Constant hang-ups and crashes. ‘Internal Error’ every time you try to do something. This needs to be fixed.”
“Where’s the calendar? I have been using this app for about a month now, very disappointed. 1. Calls can’t be scheduled, alarms don’t work, however email alarms do work. 2. Where is the calendar? Every CRM app has a calendar in it. 2. Very cumbersome.”
Aside from these complaints on the mobile side of things, here are some observations I’ve made about Sugar CRM.
Cumbersome. Sugar CRM software comes with a lot of features and options to add on additional features or develop features. This means that learning the software is going to be cumbersome. If you need the software to work a certain way for your company, you can absolutely get it done, but be prepared to set real time aside for employee training. This isn’t the type of software you can learn in an hour.
No hand holding. If you don’t have an IT department, or perhaps you are the IT department for your business, be prepared to do a lot of leg work when issues arise. Although there have certainly been improvements in customer service, access to technical support will be channeled largely through self – help resources. If you’re not the DIY type, this software may not be a good fit for you.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Once again, despite Sugar’s global scope, reviews are sparse. This can be attributed to the enterprise level of its software. The majority of Sugar CRM users are using the software because that’s what the company uses. Still, there are some huge positives when it comes to using Sugar CRM.
User Driven. Sugar CRM was designed to make managing the various aspects of CRM software easier on the user, namely, you and your employees. Once an employee is trained on the software, it should become a seamless part of their workflow.
Feature Rich. The flip side of the “cumbersome” coin is that Sugar CRM can do pretty much whatever you need it to do. With dozens of native functions, hundreds of integrations, and a developer API to create additional functions, the software is capable of functioning well within your business’s current software environment.
Ask not what Sugar CRM does for you. Ask instead what it doesn’t do; you’ll get a much shorter answer. Beginning with its exhaustive Dashboard, and then diving in to its ready-made API add-ons and integrations, Sugar can do just about anything your business model could ask for in a CRM. An abbreviated and bullet-pointed feature list will be fairly anti-climactic, but it’s a starting place:
- Sales Force Automation: Manage your sales team, assigning leads and tasks to the members best suited for them.
- Real-time Pipeline Management: See what is happening, as it happens, across your entire sales team.
- Marketing Management: Utilize social media to more effectively create and deploy your marketing strategy.
- Reporting: Create reports on every aspect of your team’s productivity and potential.
- Customization: Each user has WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) customization ability for their own dashboard, providing the most relevant data to each team member. No coding necessary.
- API Access: Choose from existing add-ons, or create your own, to make Sugar do everything that your unique business demands.
- Customer Support: Software support for 106 languages, and global customer service.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
This is where Sugar CRM really shines. Sugar began developing its CRM with roots in the open-sourced community. Sugar CRM has accumulated some of the best developers, the best coding techniques, the best compatibility, and the most internal customization of any CRM that I’ve seen. You can view a brief list of some of the more popular integrations below, but be sure to check out the Sugar Exchange for a more comprehensive list of integrations and add ons:
- InsideView: Gathers and manages customer data
- LotusLive: IBM-based social networking connectivity
- WebEx: Online and video conferencing
- GoToMeeting: Online meeting, desktop sharing, and video conferencing
- Google Docs: Share and edit documents online
- IBM: Partnering with Sugar for custom business solutions
- DocuSign: Enables electronic signatures
- Marketo: Automates marketing and sales processes
- ZenDesk: Customer support platform
- HootSuite: Confluence for social media
- Act-On: Marketing automation software
- Box: Online file sharing program
- Entrinsik: provides data analysis and reporting
There are a number of ways to store and manage your data with Sugar CRM. It’s are one of the few SaaS providers that support on-site solutions, enabling businesses to handle their own security. For those who want Sugar to handle the server issues and data security for them, Sugar offers support for public cloud-based services such as Amazon Web Services, Windows Azure, Rackspace Cloud and IBM SmartCloud.
It can be difficult to stick with a five-star rating system when evaluating CRM software. One provider might gear its product for entrepreneurs, while another might target corporations. One might specialize in just a few features, while another may take on the whole enchilada. This set of diagnostics is my guiding light: What does it claim to do? Does it do what it claims? How easy is it to get there?
Sugar CRM claims to be able to do a lot. It is a heavy-hitter, able to take on the largest CRM customers out there. And it delivers. Sugar CRM has a comprehensive feature package, impressive open-architecture for high-end customization, and a solidly global reach. For this, I’d be tempted to give a perfect 5 stars.
Then enters my third diagnostic. How easy is it to get there? It isn’t. The complexity and power of this software comes at a cost. In addition to being one of the more expensive CRM solutions for an SMB, the training required is a huge investment of time and resources. These difficulties weigh against its undeniable scope and potential, resulting in its current rating.
In short, if you’re searching for a powerhouse CRM for your powerhouse enterprise, then definitely consider investing in Sugar CRM. I believe the time, training, and finances required will pay off. However, I advise that small and medium sized companies look elsewhere.