SugarCRM - free software to help run your office

Aug 10, 2007

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    Open Source CRM - SugarCRM

    I've been testing this free software for the past couple of weeks and have decided to use it permanently. It's a full-bore CRM (customer relations management) package that rivals commercial systems that cost thousands of dollars.

    The installation of it is a bit 'geeky' but they have some one-click 'stack' installers that make it pretty easy to do. I run it on a Mac, but it runs on all platforms since it uses an internal web-server (that it installs.) Eventually I will move it to my server so I can access it on any computer when on the road.

    They also have a terrific community help-board (sort of like this one) where you can ask questions and get help.

    If nothing else, try the online "end user" demo on the link above. I think some of you might like this product. And you can't beat the price!

    I really enjoy using this package. It really helps me keep track of customers, accounts, leads, calls, meetings, 'opportunities', projects, campaigns, calendar, notes, memos, etc. I don't know how I got along without it! YMMV.

    Al
    www.insurancesolutions123.com
     
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    Guest, Aug 10, 2007
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  2. salpro22
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    salpro22 Guru

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    Have you looked into any other CRM programs AL? I'm in the market for a new CRM program as I'm getting fed up with ACT crapping out on me.

    As you may or may not know I have been using ACT for the last year. I've been debating about purchasing Activator as an add-on in the near future. However, recently, ACT isn't doing everything I need it to do.

    This program looks really nice and I'll look into it myself. I just wanted to get your input since you seem to be the forum's computer guru.

    I LOVE the Pipeline Chart look. I'm a bit leary of putting all my data online, so I'm leaning more towards the on site version. It appears to be a very good competitor to ACT.
     
    salpro22, Aug 10, 2007
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    I've looked at several CRM programs. I liked using the FreeCRM.com system but didn't like the ads it served up, nor the interface. The paid version is only $15 a month and it is highly recommended by lots of reviewers.

    If you want a good and comprehensive site of reviews on many CRMs spend some time here:

    http://www.smallbizcrm.com/open-source-crm-software-small-businesses.html

    I liked the BrowserCRM program, but so far nothing I've seen is as comprehensive as the SugarCRM. It also has a ton of add-ons and reporting modules, as well as some industry specific modules, but none for insurance that I know about.... and to be honest I just don't see our industry being all that different from others such that we need a lot of special 'stuff'... but then again I run a simple and small agency.

    As for ACT, I think that product has its best days behind it, not in front of it. Same for Goldmine.

    Since most of the leading CRMs do about the same thing, a lot of it comes down to user interface. I liked how Sugar integrates contacts which belong to accounts which have "opportunities." With Sugar there are about 10 ways to Sunday on how you want to organize your work-flow as well as your data. Some folks will want to use the "opportunity" module to keep policy info, while others will use documents, and others will use 'projects'.

    I like how they organized a 'workflow' of leads that morph into accounts and how accounts have contacts. At first I thought I'd use contacts as my 'top level' but Sugar wants you to use accounts. So if Mary Smith is your client, in pure CRM methodology you would have an account set up like "Smith, Mary" where you would enter all of her insurance info. You CAN have a "contact" record called "Mary Smith" and one for husband "Dan Smith" if he is on the policy, too. I don't go to that level of detail except for my group accounts where I might have several contacts (owner, the PA, a clerk, etc.) Same for my Colonial accounts where I have several "contacts". Sugar just makes it easy to organize the workflow and to keep data with the entity that it belongs. But all good CRMs do that... and there are a zillion of them out there.

    There are some things I don't like. For example I love having a call-list. But I want to option to put them on the calendar or leave the off. With Sugar they go on, like it or not!

    Sugar has been around for a long time. Their open-source system (the free one) does not have all the whistles and bells as their commercial product, but for a simple office like mine it has way, way, way more features than I'll ever need.

    HTH.

    Al
     
    Guest, Aug 10, 2007
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  4. midwestbroker
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    midwestbroker Guru

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    I have seen Frank's program (YIO) and I am looking to move to that. It is always nice to use something that is made for us (health / life insurance agents).

    I use ACT 2000 right now, but it is not doing everything that I need as well.
     
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    I looked at YIO and did not care for either the interface or the organization of it. It did not meet my needs for the most part. However I did like the reporting which is something Sugar is weak on... unless you install the reporting module which I've not done yet.

    If you run a large agency with lots of agents I can see how a few of the features of YIO might justify the cost, but for a one-guy shop like I have, I just didn't see enough value in YIO vs. any of the free CRM programs for how I run my business.

    One thing I like about Sugar is that has a bunch of 'themes' such that you can change the visual appearance and some minor functionally with one click. I also like the wide array of third-party (often free) add-on modules that are available via the Sugar Exchange:

    SugarExchange: Welcome

    For example there is a nice reporting module called Jasper that lots of people recommend for Sugar:

    SugarExchange: Product Details

    While YIO is an adequate system, and has a wide array of followers and ardent supporters, I find that it is limited in scope and expandability given the cost and in comparison to competing products. That does not mean it's a bad choice, it's just not MY choice.

    Sugar works well for me and gives me the option of running it locally on my hard disk or installing it on a server (hosted or dedicated) so I can use it as a web-service from any machine (like an iPhone) anywhere in the world. It has a HUGE community of users and developers and has an extensive array of add-ons. It's also FREE (at least one version, anyway.)

    Here is the direct link to the online demo. Just click the 'login' button:

    http://demo.sugarondemand.com/sugarcrm_os/index.php?action=Login&module=Users

    Get what works best for you and what you are comfortable with. There are no shortage of solutions out there... perhaps too many!


    Al
    www.insurancesolutions123.com
     
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  6. GreenSky
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    Obviously what works well for one person my be horrendous to another. I'm all for trying various options.

    Although you can't beat free, I differ with any comment that YIO is expensive. At under $300 with unlimited free support (hand-holding), it's really a bargain. Some of us, okay - me, don't want to bother setting things up and having to customize a generic program. I'm happier paying a small amount one-time and having someone else do the work.

    As a health insurance agent, my only expense is phone, postage and maybe buying leads. I have no problem paying what amounts to the commission on one small Med Supp for a program to make my life easier.

    I wish I had the computer skills and the patience to do this myself and make things work. I know I could save a few bucks and maybe enjoy the challenge.

    But I'm too old, tired, and lazy. I'm happy to let you guys do all the leg work and root out all the options. Instead of spending a few hours modifying a free program, I'd rather spend those hours earning more money than I paid for the program I use.

    Rick
     
    GreenSky, Aug 10, 2007
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  7. wildcat
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    wildcat Super Genius

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    Here are some video demo's for CRMforGoogle.com: Etelos&

    I like what I see.
     
    wildcat, Aug 10, 2007
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  8. Crabcake Johnny
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    To me the free CRM debate vs. YIO is a non-debate. For me it's the difference between a "do it yourself" or paying someone to do it. I can build my own deck for $5,000, buy all the lumber, read all the instructions and spend about 40 hours of my time. I can pay a professional $15,000 and it's done. We can argue into we're blue in the face about whether it's worth it to spend the extra $10,000. Then we just get into personalities - some people are "do-it-yourselfers" and some are not.

    I am not. I'm all over the $15K and tell me when it's done. One thing you need to remember Al is you're extremely computer and software savvy. You might think about building that deck if you have the knowledge in the 1st place. I don't know where they keep the lumber at Home Depot.

    For me, YIO is WELL worth not having the hassle of configuring some "free" program. My time and frustration is worth something. I know enough about computers type into a spreadsheet, word doc and surf the net. That's where it ends.

    There's people out there who never in a million years would have anyone change their oil but them. I'm all over Jiffy Lube and $29.95.
     
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    Funny, because I thought the program to be way overpriced for basically a 10-year old system written in MS Access that has limited functionality and zero expandability.


    This is valid. However you can go to Craigslist and hire a geek for about $70/hr. to come in and install Sugar. It would take about 30 minutes for someone who has done it before.

    I think most people agree with you there. But these days most software is pretty simple to install. Sugar is no more complex than others if you use their installers.

    If you scroll down the 'download' page:
    http://www.sugarcrm.com/crm/download/sugar-suite.html
    there are one-click installers for Sugar:


    OK, but if in the end you have a system that you like AND which helps you make more money, the time, effort and cost is worth it. If I had to spend hour after hour looking at the ugly (IMO) YIO screens and trying to fit it to how I like to work, I'd go bonkers. Others seem to simply love the system... and that's great.

    Do what is best for you. But at least check out the options. You never know what you will find out there.

    Al
     
    Guest, Aug 10, 2007
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  10. GreenSky
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    Al -

    You and I have spoken a number of times and you know I respect your opinion - especially about computers. You use a Mac and make it work for PC programs. I choose windows with all it's faults because I don't want to make something do what it wasn't designed to do (emulate PC).

    You seem to dislike any program that comes with a price tag. For me, a price tag is time involved to learn a free program, modify it for my purposes, and then make it work. That comes "naturally" for you. I don't want a great discussion group for something that I simply want to turn on.

    However, you seem to have a personal problem with YIO. Why is that?

    Rick
     
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