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.
Here is a good example:
Suppose that one of the businesses you intend to manage via SugarCRM is dedicated to selling music, while the other provides pool cleaning services. As dramatically different as they may sound, it is not an unrealistic scenario and they help highlight an important point.
Let us pretend we needed to enter a customer for each of the two businesses.
For the music business we might want to know the person's age, favorite musician and genres, plus other similar attributes. It is unlikely that any of that information would be helpful for a customer of the pool cleaning business. For those entries, we would likely want to store information such as the pool size, chemical combinations and other information valuable to that line of business.
Herein lies the issue the example is trying to highlight and why attempting to use a single instance of SugarCRM to manage multiple businesses is generally not a good idea. Sugar won't distinguish between one type of customer versus the other when you enter or otherwise interact with the data. For example, when entering a customer, the data entry screen that is displayed for both is exactly the same. Obviously, seeing fields that pertain with chemical balances while entering a music customer, and vice-versa, would be rather confusing to a user entering a new customer.
You would be better served by having multiple instances of Sugar, one for each business.
As a side note, Sugar could be customized to address this particular scenario, but it would take a significant amount of effort.