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The Top 10 CRM Software Systems in Southeast Asia—SugarCRM


An Independent Review of SugarCRM in Asia

Founded in April 2004, SugarCRM has become one of the highest growth CRM software companies in the world. In an industry of innovators or fast followers, SugarCRM is one of the few innovators. The company was born with the SaaS incarnation and has since pioneered commercial open source within the CRM software industry.

SugarCRM is the world's leader in open source customer relationship management software. As of May 2012, the company had over 11M downloads, 1M users and 170,000 paid subscriptions. SugarCRM is also one of the few global open source software companies which is cash flow positive, well financed and well managed.

CRM Software Suite

In addition to the free Sugar Community Edition, SugarCRM is available in four paid editions, including SugarCRM Professional, SugarCRM Corporate, SugarCRM Enterprise, and SugarCRM Ultimate. Each edition includes sales, marketing and support automation, email integration, reporting, team selling, security, workflow automation, social CRM, support for 22 languages and a choice of either on premise or cloud based CRM deployment.

The Sugar development platform allows administrators and developers to create custom business processes, define teams, control access rights to modules and fields, modify screens and pages with the layout editor, and create new dashlets using third-party data sources. The workflow tools can create and enforce business rules. The Module Builder allows the creation of custom fields within a module or the ability to create an entirely new module. New modules can be shared or sold on the Sugar Exchange and loaded into other Sugar instances with the Module Loader.

Sugar CRM originated on the LAMP stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, but is also available on other platforms that can deliver Apache, MySQL and PHP (such as Windows, Solaris and Mac OS X). SugarCRM can also use other databases such as DB2, Oracle and SQL Server.

Mobility is supported on the BlackBerry, Droid and iOS (iPhone and iPad) platforms with mobile operating system specific editions. Sugar is also one of the few CRM vendors to offer an offline client to support cloud CRM operation while not connected to the Internet, and then sync when Web connectivity is reestablished.

The cost of the SugarCRM Professional edition is US$360 per user per year, the Corporate edition is US$540 per user per year, the Enterprise edition is US$720 per user per year and the Ultimate edition is US$1,200 per user per year. There is a minimum requirement of five users and one year contract. There is a free seven day trial for the professional edition and there is a free download of the SugarCRM Community edition, which contains about 85% of the feature sets offered in the commercial SugarCRM Professional versions, i.e. customer accounts and contact management, campaign management and multi-channel marketing, email marketing, activity management, lead management including web to lead management, and opportunity management.

As an open source CRM solution, SugarCRM source code is available to all customers.

Southeast Asia Support

SugarCRM does not have a regional office in South East Asia but is represented by business partners in the region. According to SugarCRM the Rest of the World (ROW) segment, which is dominated by Asia, is growing in revenues and customer acquisitions at about 40% annually.

SugarCRM Australia Pty. Ltd. appointed Tony Hughes in 2011 as the Asia Pacific Managing Director. According to Hughes "There are growing segments of businesses in this region that are clamoring for CRM as they add customers and seek to reduce churn. Flexibility and affordability are watchwords, and that's what SugarCRM delivers along with unrivalled ease of use and business value."

Doug Erickson, Vice President, Asia Pacific, for SugarCRM goes on to say, "Business needs are different in Asia and Australia than they are in North America, and our partners' reach and expertise, in addition to their creativity and their ability to distil real business needs for their end-user customers, give users real competitive advantages precisely tailored to their geographic regions." Valid comments indeed, but SugarCRM would be well advised to recognize the market in Australia is also different from that in Southeast Asia, and would do well to consider setting up a Southeast Asia regional office in the same way that many of their competitors have done.

SugarCRM is supported by a global partner network to serve its customer base in almost one hundred countries. As of May 2012, the community included 30,000 registered developers, 1,000 projects on SugarForge, 400 Value Added Resellers (VARs) and 100 products on the newer SugarExchange.

In South East Asia SugarCRM is supported by partners such as iZeno Pte. Ltd, a company based in Singapore which also supports Indonesia and Malaysia, CRMWorks Asia and Alliance Software based in the Philippines, BDA Partnership Singapore and Signify Co. Ltd in Thailand.

SugarCRM supports multi-currency and is available in 22 languages. Unfortunately, the only Asia Pacific languages supported by the company include Chinese, Japanese and English. Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia and Thai language editions are available from the open source community.

CRM Software Cloud Delivery

SugarCRM is cloud agnostic and runs on many public clouds and leading cloud platforms such Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, Microsoft Azure Services Platform, Rackspace Cloud, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and also the SugarCRM On Demand platform. The CEO of SugarCRM, Larry Augustin, has been quoted as saying "We'd just as soon customers ran on someone else's cloud so we wouldn't have to continue building ours out. That's why we support others out there, as we think this gives customers a great deal of flexibility, using the service oriented architecture that works best for them."

For customers electing SugarCRM hosted by Sugar, the company's data centers reside Cupertino and the U.K. with a back up data center in Atlanta, which means that there will be an element of latency for SugarCRM customers in South East Asia.

If hosted by Sugar CRM, the company's Service Level Agreement guarantees 99.5% uptime availability, 15GB of data storage, daily backups of all customer data in the SugarCRM On-demand environment for internal backup and recovery planning purposes, and customers can request twice monthly secure FTP downloads of their customer data.

SugarCRM Strengths

  • SugarCRM provides the free open source application, SugarCRM Community Edition. This can be a good starter CRM package for many Southeast Asia small and midsize businesses.
  • The SugarCRM Exchange is a continually growing online marketplace where additional add-ons and solutions can be sourced at little to no cost.
  • SugarCRM software can be deployed as an in house solution or in the cloud as a Software as Service (SaaS) solution.
  • Sugar uses open standards technologies (primarily the LAMP stack) and permits hosting on multiple public cloud providers. This gives Asia Pacific customers the option to use local hosting. If hosted by Sugar CRM, the company provides a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a 99.5% uptime guarantee.
  • While there is a general viability question for most open source software companies, in large part because their models often do not create profitable businesses, SugarCRM is an exception. The company is growing, cash flow positive, financially sound and well financed.

SugarCRM Weaknesses

  • While the Sales Force Automation (SFA) software is particularly strong, the customer support software is less strong and the marketing software is weak.
  • For many Asia Pacific small businesses, the minimum user count of five users may make SugarCRM too expensive an option.
  • Sugar has limited market visibility in Southeast Asia as compared to some of the larger US CRM companies. The company's operations and customer base are not nearly as mature in Southeast Asia as other regions.
  • Whereas many times cloud CRM systems are selected by business managers, throughout Asia open source applications are often still seen as solutions that I.T. staff select and support.

Short List SugarCRM Software When:

  • You are looking for a free CRM application.
  • You seek best of breed Sales Force Automation software.
  • You desire open source software or a strong development platform to customize your CRM software. Sugar CRM source code can be downloaded which means that modifications can be made in house if desired.
  • You desire a local hosting provider, or a choice in cloud hosting providers.
  • You desire a leading solution with strong mobile and social CRM tools.

Consider Alternative CRM Software When:

  • You seek a balanced CRM suite, with comparable functionality in SFA, marketing and customer service.
  • You have fewer than 5 users and cost is a significant decision making factor.
  • You want a vendor-managed, and integrated CRM and accounting or ERP system.

Next—Zoho CRM in Asia Review >>

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