SugarCRM appliance sweetens CRM pot
Open source-based Sugar Cube brings on-demand CRM in-house
This would be a good spot for SugarCRM to introduce alerting and auto-escalation features to ensure cases don't slip through the cracks. There's currently no knowledge base to aid in finding solutions, but your reps can use the new bug-tracker functionality for defect logging and monitoring.
The reporting engine offered no graphing capability or relative date parameters (for example, "today + 5 days"), but it did include summary options and good filtering tools to scrub data for relevance.
A separate dashboard tab integrated Macromedia Flash-driven charts, although choices were limited to a small set of prefabricated options. The chance to drill down on a chart to reveal underlying data added a nice touch.
The new administrative interface was modest but effective. It was relatively simple to manually add new users and create teams, although I would prefer to have templates for easy assignment of permissions and settings to new users (based on job description or job title, for example).
Field-level security is not an option, but administrators can control the tabs available to an agent. Page layout and customization did benefit from an inline layout editor, making it simple to reorder fields directly on a live page. The administrator interface would benefit from CRM-specific log and system insight as well as quick stats on user activities.
Taking Your Lumps
Although a single Sugar Cube appliance could handle traffic from several hundred users, limitations in the software toolset make it more practical for fewer than 50 seats. Exceed that and the administrative overhead may become too unwieldy.
SugarCRM will have to make some necessary additions before the Sugar Suite can be considered viable for wide-scale enterprise deployment. Workflow is integral to put the "automation" into what is currently a sales-force tracking tool. An integrated help facility would also improve training and adoption efforts.
You can customize and contribute to Sugar Suite's code -- making it an excellent springboard for customizing in-house CRM efforts. The Sugar Cube offers an on-demand experience without sacrificing opportunities for deep customization and data security.
SugarCRM earns a round of applause for sweetening the pot in a competitive CRM market, however, it needs more work to become a full-fledged enterprise option. But if Sugar Suite is any indication, open source CRM may, in time, give its commercial counterpart a run for its money.