Can Sugar Do This?

I talk to potential Sugar customers every day. One of the most common questions I get is “Can Sugar Do X?”, where “X” is a particular requirement. To this question, the answer is always “Yes”. It may not be a good idea to have Sugar do “X” or it may be too expensive to have Sugar do “X”, but Sugar can always be made to do it.

If you put Sugar on your own server, it’s an open source application with zero limitations on what you can do with it. You can modify the core code, and you have direct access to the database tables. If you’re in Sugar on-demand, Sugar has an extremely rich extensions framework, and Sugar publishes a comprehensive developer’s guide for its customers. Sugar Customers may change application appearance and behavior; streamline and automate processes; take actions in records across the application, all with powerful logic hooks and web services to and from external applications.

The sky really is the limit.

This is not to say that you have to be a programmer to run Sugar. Sugar’s admin studio tools are more robust than ever. Sales and Marketing users as system administrators have the ability to create reports, fields, workflows, change layouts, dashboards, etc. without any technical expertise. Depending on your company’s requirement’s, Sugar out-of-the-box may work just fine.

With that being said, “Can Sugar do this?” Is not the right question to ask. The right question(s) to ask are:

• Can a regular user do this in Sugar out-of-the-box?
• If it’s custom, how much is it going to cost?
• If it costs x, What’s the ROI? Is it worth it?
• Can Sugar solve my pain points and fit within my business model?

If it costs $50,000 to automate a process that you forecast will close 100 more opportunities at $5,000 per opportunity ($500,000 in revenue), then of course it’s worth it. If it costs $50,000 to automate your support staff and retain 20% more customers with an additional $250,000 in revenue, this is also worth it.

If it costs $50,000 to integrate a proprietary application with SugarCRM, but you’re not exactly sure how many more deals you will close because of it, then it might not be worth it. A lot of companies get stuck in the habit of integrating or customizing for the sake of doing so, and when you fall into that trap, it’s almost never worth it.

The question is not what Sugar can do, it’s how it gets done and for how much (if any cost at all), and if it’s worth it. In addition, the “Can Sugar do this?” questions also arise when companies are comparing multiple CRMs, and vendors tend to get in a feature battle. This is not good for the customer, because the vendors and the businesses stop focusing on the pain points, and the ROI of the company involved, and are more interested in selling against a competitor (or buying against a competitor). The customer is now second fiddle. Both parties need to be focused on the business pain points for it to be successful.

Instead of asking “Can Sugar do this?” Make sure to associate costs with an ROI, focus on your business more than the bells and whistles, and be sure to ask the right questions. Sugar can do anything. Well, it won’t start your car YET, but we’re working on that.