The latest version of Sugar 6 CRM software offers a new look, a simplified multitasking environment and a native iPhone application.
Mobile devices such as Apple's iPad and iPhone continue to gain ground in enterprises, meeting a growing need for mobile access to data and applications. With sales professionals among the most mobile members of the workforce, customer relationship management CRM software vendors have been at the forefront of vendors offering mobile access to their applications.
Open source CRM vendor SugarCRM is no exception. In its Sugar 6 release last year, the CRM software got a new look, with new buttons and icons for ease of multitasking along with other upgrades and features. SugarCRM has also added a new native iPhone application to its most recent CRM release: Sugar 6.1.
The SugarCRM Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform
SugarCRM is based on the SugarForge open source CRM software, and the company claims that more than 6,000 customers have chosen SugarCRM's on-site and cloud computing services over proprietary alternatives. Sugar 6 was developed with simplicity in mind, based on the company's belief that CRM should not be complex to deploy or expensive to use.
SugarCRM software allows organizations to organize, manage and track people, companies and sales opportunities through CRM dashboards in addition to sales trends and marketing reports and tools and customer profiles.
The Sugar Mobile for iPhone Application
Taking advantage of the newfound popularity of mobile CRM, SugarCRM announced a new iPhone CRM application in its November Sugar 6.1 release. The new mobile release offers a clean and intuitive interface to access your CRM system as a native iPhone application. For those who maneuver through popular Web services like Facebook or Gmail, you'll most likely find that you can use Sugar CRM and the mobile app with ease.
Presently, only the Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise versions offer the iPhone application. A free trial of Sugar Mobile for iPhone can be downloaded from the Apple Appstore or accessed via the free trial page on the SugarCRM website.
As with most mobile CRM apps, to get started you simply provide your unique URL for mobile access and you username and password; this information will be emailed to you when you sign up for the account. When you access the Sugar Mobile for iPhone Application on your iPhone, you'll need to use this information to connect to your CRM.
Sugar Mobile for iPhone Reports and Features
Not all CRM software options are available in apps, but the SugarCRM app does offer a nice selection for mobile CRM users to stay on task. It offers just enough features to be extremely useful, but at the same time it won't weigh you down and leave you lost trying to maneuver through reports and data on a small screen. Here is what you get with the unmodified Sugar Mobile for iPhone Application:
- Accounts: add links, usernames and passwords — all modules available.
- Contacts: access contact details on the go. The address includes integration with Google Maps.
- Opportunities: when leads become real opportunities, you can name the relationship stage (e.g., closed or won), and view or edit all details.
- Leads: edit leads, log calls (via single-click logging on iPhone), edit details, and log emails.
- Meetings: Pulls from your opportunities and provides you with instant access to scheduled meetings and tasks. You can also add new meetings.
- Tasks: a to-do list scheduler that can be viewed or edited. The details of each task also show the team member who will follow-up or complete the task.
- Cases: open cases and manage support cases for on-site customer support.
- Employees: your company directory.
Sugar Mobile for iPhone also allows mobile users to view reports and associated files. The Sugar 6.1 administration area has new options to choose what is displayed in the mobile CRM app. A new screen lets CRM admins drag and drop modules to disable or enable them in the Sugar Mobile for iPhone application. When you create custom CRM modules and publish them in Sugar Admin, you can also choose to enable them for use in the mobile users.
Social Media Integration Features in Sugar 6.1
While the Sugar Mobile for iPhone app is a big addition, the newest release of Sugar 6.1 also moves the CRM software into the social era. Most CRM users tend to "live inside" the CRM app but often have to leave that workflow space to manage social tasks.
The new social features in Sugar 6.1 bring social capabilities inside the CRM application. One new social management tool is the Twitter Connector. This lets Sugar 6 users to monitor Twitter stream from within the Sugar installation. The new Twitter Connector enhances Sugar Cloud Connectors and social feeds so users can share any type of external data including video, social networking information, or any records from the CRM system.
Other new features in the latest release worth mentioning are the email management and communications capabilities of Sugar. Sugar 6 offers integration with Microsoft Outlook 2010, as well as better support for all IMAP email protocol, such as Gmail, from within the Sugar email module.
This latest version also provides more global support, with the addition of 13 languages fully supported by SugarCRM, in addition to the more than 80 community supported language packs available. This lets users evaluate SugarCRM in the different integrated languages and local currencies without needing to download and install a language pack.
Sugar 6 Availability
The software is available in three editions: Sugar Community Edition (free download), Sugar Professional ($360 per year) and Sugar Enterprise ($600 per year). Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise currently offer the native iPhone application. A free trial of Sugar 6.1 is available from the SugarCRM website
Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.