Wednesday, September 22, 2010

At The Top Of The List...

As you might have already guessed, a large part of my day-to-day CRM consulting work involves me asking questions.  Here is a small sampling of some common ones:

  • Where do you store your leads?
  • How are you tracking your sales?
  • Can you describe your marketing processes?

This line of questioning helps me get a better grasp on the intended goals for the CRM implementation.  I then translate this information into functionality contained within software packages such as SugarCRM and voila! we have a CRM system.

Conversely, clients tend to also present a wide range of questions and covering a variety of topics, some more technical than others, but all equally interesting.  One question in particular that I often times encounter is the following:

Which CRM system is best?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SugarCRM Cookbook: .NET and Dates

A user of my CandyWrapper library recently requested some help addressing a problem they were experiencing with the insertion of dates into SugarCRM via C#.

After some investigation, I identified the source of the problem was the format in which the date was being submitted to the SugarCRM SOAP API.  

The interaction reminded me of the frequency at which this particular problem appears within the SugarCRM Forums.  Its actually rather understandable as there isn't much documentation covering the subject.  

If you are also a C# developer, the code snippet that solved the problem is provided below:

01 DateTime dtTemp = System.DateTime.Now;
02 dtTemp = TimeZone.CurrentTimeZone.ToUniversalTime(dtTemp);
03 string sDate = String.Format("{0:yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss}", dtTemp);

This is the standard way in which I handle dates in my C# projects, but there is a special twist to my code which is worth highlighting and might help save you some additional frustration in your projects.

Let us analyze it, line by line.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CandyWrapper 101: Why Use It?

One of my more popular contributions to the SugarCRM community is something I've dubbed CandyWrapper.  If you are not familiar with it, give its project page a look over at

The basic premise for its existence is to help minimize the amount of work required to interact with the SugarCRM SOAP API when programming in .NET.  It accomplishes this task by minimizing the amount of code a programmer needs to write in order to interact with the SugarCRM SOAP API.

Second to this, it eliminates the need to know intricacies of the SugarCRM SOAP API.  This is helpful for developers that may be well versed in .NET languages such as C#, but perhaps have never worked with SugarCRM's API.  Rather than having to sift through documentation and tedious trial-and-error scenarios to determine the manner in which the SugarCRM SOAP API expects things, CandyWrapper presents a standard approach and does all the dirty work behind the scenes.

But, exactly what does that mean?  

Let us take a quick look at a C# example to illustrate the advantages of using CandyWrapper.  Within it we will take a look at both the standard C# code one would use without CandyWrapper and of course, we will also look at code that takes advantage of it.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SugarCRM Stack Installers: Yay or Nay?

Interested in installing SugarCRM to try it out for yourself?  Great, however, determining which are the appropriate files to download might be a bit confusing.  

In case you are wondering why, take a minute to browse the SugarCRM download page.  If you are unsure about which file to download, the Download Wizard is a useful tool that will guide you through the selection process.  

If, however, you are just browsing around, you might note that some of the available choices are labeled with the tag "FastStack."  These differ from the main install package--usually named or the like--in that they are intended to simplify the process of installing not only Sugar, but also the underlying technologies on which it relies, i.e. PHP, MySQL/MS-SQL and Apache.  

If the idea is to simplify the process, why wouldn't that simply be the default or only install method?  

Friday, September 3, 2010

SugarCRM 101: How Do I Manage Multiple Businesses?

I realized the other day that too much of the content on this blog tends to be rather technical.  While helpful, there are also a number of topics worth discussing that don't fall into that category and are often quite valuable to new users or prospects.  A recent message on the SugarCRM Forums from a potential user reminded me of that very point.

The question was rather short and simple: can I use SugarCRM to manage multiple businesses?

Some folks will argue that it is possible, and it certainly is through the manipulation and creative use of built in security features and customization tools.  However, SugarCRM is not specifically designed with that concept in mind and attempting to use it for such purposes can quickly lead to problems.