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The first of 4 quarterly releases from SugarCRM is here. Sugar Winter ‘19 is packed with improvements and updates across the board, with a number of new functionalities stacked in the middle. Titled Sugar 8.3, this new release builds upon Sugar 8.2 by introducing new features in core modules as well as some simplistic updates here and there to further intensify the user experience.

Let’s break down all the major features introduced in Sugar 8.3

New Features in Product Catalog

Sugar 8.3

The Product Catalog Dashlet in Sugar has evolved to include a number of new functionalities in Sugar 8.3. Introduced in Sugar Winter ‘18, the Product Catalog Dashlet now has the ability to add Quick Picks, Reports. And Records. Let’s take a look:

Product Catalog Quick Picks Dashlet

The Product Catalog Dashlet can get clustered pretty quickly if you’ve got a number of different variables in play, but that’s all taken care of now in Sugar 8.3 with Quick Picks. The Product Catalog Quick Picks Dashlet quickly lets the user access recently used line items as well as those the users have marked as favorites. This simple new feature can save users valuable time and improve the overall experience.

Quick Picks isn’t the only new update to the Product Catalog. In Sugar 8.3, you can also mark Favorites through the Product Catalog list view.

The Product Catalog Dashlet is one of the best time-savers in the Sugar platform and this new update will surely delight Sugar users.

Product Catalog Reports

The Reports Module now displays your Product Catalog as well. This helps you get a visual representation of all the products in your inventory in the shape of reports.

New Features in Advanced Workflow

Sugar 8.3

Sugar 8.3 includes a number of new updates in Advanced Workflows across the board. Advanced Workflows serve as a core feature in SugarCRM and help organizations automate complex tasks and processes. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new!

Process Validation

In Sugar 8.3, you can validate advanced workflows for their functionality and sublimity before putting them live. The Process Validator imports process definition designs and picks out errors and issues along with sequencing mistakes.

Admin Configuration

New Process Auto Save and Auto Validate options have been added to Sugar’s System Settings with a designated panel called “Advanced Workflow”. The error number of cycles setting has also been relocated in Sugar 8.3.

Module Relationships

New Module Relationships have been created in Sugar 8.3 that let you add related records as well as the ability to relate it to a target record. You can also change the value of one or more fields on the target record.

New Comment Log Field

Sugar 8.3

The Bugs and Cases module has a new entry called the Comment Log Field. Sugar users can access the Comment Log Field to view these snippets to ensure everyone is on the same page. Sugar Administrators can use the Comment Log Field and put it in other modules apart from Bugs and Cases Module. This comment log ensures that customer information is present right in the confines of the Sugar record.

Rolustech is a SugarCRM Certified Developer & Partner Firm. We have helped more than 600 firms with various SugarCRM integrations and customization.

No doubt Sugar dashboard is a powerful tool for regular Sales Management. Special diagrams like Pipeline or Forecast, reports diagrams and filtered list views help to see the current state of sales, to analyze opportunities and quotes portfolios from different viewpoints. Report drill down option gives the possibility to examine any diagrams segment and look into details in a second.

But what do you do if you look at the pipeline or any other similar diagram and see that the portfolio was significantly changed? 

Some of the opportunities could be shifted to the latest period or, vice-versa, to the earliest one, some of the opportunities had changes in the amount or/and stages. But which changes exactly and what exact amount of change? That is a question. If you manage the dozens and hundreds of opportunities, the receiving of answer needs a lot of time, doesn't it?

You can make this part of sales management work easier and more efficient if you use TimeLine Viewer, a special Sugar add-on for collecting and managing significant changes in your data.

First, add the report based on TimeLine data to visualize the structure of significant changes in your portfolio and add a particular diagram to your Sales Dashboard.  It helps to be aware of the existence of changes that had impact on your portfolio, as well as how many of them took place, and who is responsible for them.

Second, add special "My TimeLine" dashlet to the dashboard and configure a dashlet filter to display just a restricted set of business events (stage changes, change in the amount and probable date of the close).  It gives not only the possibility to view each particular change that had impact on your pipeline but also to collaborate with teammates in a quick and easy way in the context of the particular event.

Finally, add Collaboration dashlet to Dashboard to quickly review your teammates' answers directly from dashboard.

With these improvements, your Sales Dashboard would look like this and you will be able to manage all pipeline changes directly from the dashboard.  This is a piece of cake. 

If you use Sugar Enterprise, we have another good piece of news: you can view TimeLine feeds on your Sugar mobile as well, because Sugar Enterprise allows extending regular Sugar Mobile.


Enjoy the work in Sugar,


By Elizabeth Mankowski, CRM Practice Director, Highland Solutions



Like many consulting firms, Highland Solutions groups our team into several practice areas. The CRM practice distinguishes itself from the other Highland practices by focusing only on CRM (of course!) and by supporting multiple active clients instead of a single client’s custom development initiative. These clients range in size from family-owned custom fixture businesses to global manufacturing firms.


We have a small but experienced team of dedicated CRM experts at Highland Solutions who support about 25 clients. So how do we do it? Here are 6 guidelines that help us work at a sustainable pace while delivering excellent work to our clients.


1. Prioritize often

We do a diverse range of work for our CRM clients, which often includes:

  • New CRM implementations
  • Major enhancements for an existing client
  • Production support requests
  • Upgrade testing

This work varies in its predictability (how far in advance can it be scheduled?) and its unknown risks (how well can it be defined before we start?). As a team, the areas of greatest risk are usually prioritized higher, as shown in the matrix below.

Image by Jeff Blanchard

We take time on Monday mornings to review the week ahead and rank by client and type of work. 


2. Limit work in progress

Highland is a people-first organization. We are spouses, parents, friends, and caretakers, as well as technology professionals. Like you, we have a limited number of hours in our day and we don’t spend all of them working. When we are working, focus is critical to quality and completion. Context switching between Jira stories, client meetings, and internal tasks can be taxing, so we limit the number of stories assigned to each team member at any given time. We use Jira quick filters to highlight what’s assigned to whom at stand-up.


3. Maximize work not done

This is driven by the Lean principle: minimize or eliminate any steps that do not create value for the customer. We often ask ourselves, “what if we don’t do this for the client?” and we ask “what if we don’t do this today?” Then we weigh the consequences in dialog with our clients and help them evaluate when a request is a “must have” or a “nice to have.” We like to remind each other, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”


4. Shorten client feedback cycles

We don’t prepare a large requirements document up front. We educate our clients on Agile software development during our kick-off meetings, and we shepherd our joint team through a rapid story definition, implementation, and demo cycle. We present changes and enhancements to clients early and often, and we turn around feedback quickly.

This shorter cycle keeps the information fresh in the minds of Highland team members and our clients. Our clients are often busy sales and marketing professionals with day jobs that are not configuring CRMs. Keeping their focused attention and reminding them frequently of what we’re doing on their behalf results in more valuable feedback for us and a better end product for them.


5. Specialize but have a back-up

We can’t afford to have every team member become an expert in every client’s CRM, so generally there are one or two experts per client. That said, some cross-training provides benefits when we need to spread out testing tasks or when a team member takes time off. We also use a secure tool to save and share credentials, ensuring we can access clients’ Sugar CRM environments without passing around usernames and passwords on post-it notes.


Photo by Bridgett Colling


6. Communicate

From internal daily stand-ups to weekly or bi-weekly client demos, the importance of communication cannot be overstated. We are committed to being transparent and open with our clients and with each other. Occasionally we will miss a deadline or misinterpret a requirement, but frequent check-ins ensure that trust remains high and corrections are timely. Every CRM engagement is a partnership, and candid communication is the strong fiber binding us together.



Taking the best from Agile methodologies, lean principles, and about 50 years of collective technology experience helps Highland’s CRM team keep our day-to-day workload manageable while still delivering high value to our clients.

While these guidelines help us manage our work today, we’re always improving our process and tweaking it as our needs change. If you lead or work on a team that’s managing multiple clients, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re applying Agile or lean principles to your work.


This post was originally featured on the Highland Solutions Journal 

As a Sugar Administrator, you play a major role in team productivity. If the CRM isn’t configured with fields and calculations that make data entry easy, the team isn’t going to use the system. In parallel, if the fields and calculations aren’t helpful, it will lead to frustration and wasted efficiency.


During our December online user group discussion, our Sugar experts addressed the concept of managing configurations and gave best practices advice for modifying dropdowns, deciding what to require, managing searchable fields, and more. I’ll summarize their points in this blog. Check out the video clip for their commentary, and join us for our February online user group where we’ll tackle using quotes in conjunction with opportunities, products, and forecasting.

Best Practices for Adding a Field

When adding a new field to your Sugar instance, it’s important to first understand how that field will be used. Will the information in that field need to be searchable? Will the user need to draw reports from it? Is it a calculated field? Think about how to best match the field type to fulfill the field purpose.


For example, it would be better to use a dropdown instead of a text field if the user wants the ability to easily report on the data. Why? If you use a text field, you are leaving the spelling, punctuation, and capitalization open to human error, which will make it that much harder to accurately draw a report.


Need to do a calculation on a value? Use an integer or currency field so you can add, subtract, or average those numbers in a calculated field or summation report.


When adding a text field, make sure you think about character length. What will you be entering in that field? Is it something you know will keep a standard length? For example, will you be entering invoice numbers that are always eight characters long? Avoid creating text fields that will require space for a lot of characters or you could run out of room in your database tables.


When it comes to dates, how do you decide whether to use Date or DateTime for the field? Best practices would indicate you should use Date if you don’t particularly care about time, and DateTime if you must be able to report on both. A field that is date only will be easier to report on, filter, group, and enter data into, but of course if the time is necessary, you must use DateTime. Just be mindful that it is filled out appropriately.


Take care when using calculated fields or dependent fields. If you’re pulling data from a parent record down to a child record when using calculated fields, and you cascade those records down multiple levels (ex: Contact field based on parent Account field, and then Case field based on that contact field) and edit the account, you’ll have to cascade those changes down multiple levels. This may affect the ability to do an accurate calculation or even prohibit the calculation altogether. In the above example, if you have Workflows based on the Cases and you update the top parent Account (which updates the related Contacts, which updates the related Cases), each Case will kick off the Workflow.  If that Workflow updates the parent Contact or Case, you can get into quite the mess.


Additional Best Practices for Creating & Editing Fields

As you manage your field configurations, questions on enabling certain features may emerge. Here are our best practices for answering those questions:


1. To Require or Not to Require?

If you create too many required fields, there’s a higher likelihood your users will fill in the fields randomly just to be able to move on in the process. However, if you don’t create any required fields you may find your data has too many gaps and you can’t collect the information you need. So, what’s the solution? It’s a balancing act, but keep in mind that Sugar has other tools, like data scoring and exception reporting, that can help you keep track of certain data if you are worried about having too many requirements.


2. Enable Duplicate Merge?

Your Sugar instance will show a field property with the option to enable duplicate merge. Duplicate merge is when you merge duplicate records and get a side-by-side view of the data in that field. If you know you’ll have time to compare the two records completely, go ahead and merge, but if there is an overabundance of custom fields, you may find yourself with information overload.


3. Is This Personal Information?

Sugar added a new property called Personal Information in version 8.0. This was in response to the GDPR and other European data privacy laws. It allows you to mark which fields contain personally identifiable information. That information will feed in to the data privacy features, including being able to see all personal information on file in a record via a particular view in Sugar. The information also feeds into the data erasure process built into the data privacy module. You can capture this information at the request of a customer and erase it, copy and paste it, or do whatever else is asked of you.


4. Should This Field be on the List View?

This best practice tip is not a field property, but it has to do with fields so, here it is! Put thought into which fields are available as columns in your list view – prioritize the most crucial information your users will want to see in that field and don’t over clutter by showing too many columns. It will slow down your process.  


Managing Searchable Fields

How will the fields you’re creating be available for searching? Global Search, Search Filtering, and Reporting are all Administrator level configurations that are manageable for your searching needs. Here’s a breakdown of each:


Global Search: Global Search Admin settings allow you to select which modules should be indexed for Global Search (in the search Admin tool, not in Studio). With this high-level capability, you can turn off searching for modules you don’t want users to be able to use through Global Search. Within Studio, you can control which fields you want indexed for the search engine. This also controls how the results are ranked for your users via the Boost Value. You can adjust Boost Value to make sure you’re presenting the most important information to your users first.

If you type a search term that matches multiple fields on a record, the Boost Value from each field will add up to get the overall match for that result.


Search Filters: These filters are controlled through a layout in Studio. Within every module in Studio you have a search layout. You can drag and drop fields into your search layout so they can be searched. Keep the Search Filters in mind when you’re creating new fields. You may not want the particular field on a list view layout, but in most cases you will definitely want the new field to be on the search layout.


Reporting: The Admin can control which fields are available (or unavailable) for reporting. In most instances, if you’re disabling a field for reporting, it’s because your team is no longer using the field. You can hide fields from the Reports screen by unchecking the reportable property on the field under the field settings.


Modifying Dropdowns

Best practices for modifying dropdowns start with reviewing existing data, especially if you’re removing any values. Search the field for the values first, because once the values are removed, the related data in the database no longer exists according to Sugar. If you must replace the value, do the following:


1. Add new value to your dropdown

2. Go to Entity

3. Search field for your old value

4. Do mass update to the new value

5. Go back into your dropdown and remove the old value


For more Sugar Admin best practices, visit our website at Be sure to join us for our February user group on best practices for using quotes in conjunction with opportunities, products, and forecasting.

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2018 turned out to be a huge year for CRM as companies realized the full extent of its functionalities and paved the way for Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Internet of Things. Big data cemented its place as the source of all good things when it comes to customers but things took a turn for the worse when the world caught up with lackluster security protocols in the virtual ecosystem. Things only go uphill from here because CRM is a household name and everyone wants a piece of this cake.

Let’s look at some of the top CRM trends to look out for in 2019

CRM goes Mainstream

The CRM industry is truly evolving beyond its reach and 2018 showed how the mainstream industry has caught on with it. More and more companies these days look for a Customer Relationship Management platform early on in their existence. The multitude of benefits in terms of customer acquisition, retention, and management are hallmarks that make CRM a must-have software. SugarCRM and Salesforce still hold the top spots when it comes to the best but expect more CRM vendors to sprout in 2019, offering basic or mid-scale services at cheaper rates to target the SMBs. However, a word of caution; the rise of GDPR and privacy regulations regarding big data is serious stuff, so opt for a CRM vendor that guarantees data privacy. The big two in the CRM Industry, SugarCRM and Salesforce, are both GDPR ready!

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing Automation take center stage!

2018 paved the way, 2019 will cement their footing! Artificial Intelligence is truly here and the amazing benefits it presents for companies worldwide means it’s not going away any time soon. Artificial Intelligence with CRM makes for an interesting combination that brings order and proactiveness to customer support and management. Expect companies to leverage AI in areas beyond customer support in 2019 to achieve a competitive edge. Voice-to-text functionalities, spam filters, sales forecasting, smart searches, and sentimental analysis are all areas that can do a lot more with Artificial Intelligence.

As for the other half of the sales cycle, expect Marketing Automation to secure a solid footing in a majority of marketing tasks and operations. Companies can grow their marketing to new heights as the bulk of the work gets automated, expect competition and cutting edge solutions heading into 2019.

Mobile CRM takes over!

Mobile CRM presents its users the core CRM functionalities on the go and brings a whole new range of possibilities for your CRM users. 2018 saw Mobile CRM breakthrough for Sales departments. With CRM functionalities on their phone, Sales teams improved their productivity by closing deals and managing clients on the go. By being constantly connected to the CRM, your sales people are always a touch away from your clients. Certain CRM integrations can add to the diverse functionality of Mobile CRM and improved data quality. Mobile CRM ensured new data into the database in real time and increased CRM adoption rates with its multi-device adaptability.

Deep Personalization

2019 will be the year when companies dig into years of customer data to personalize experiences for them. The number 1 rule to retaining customers is making them feel valued. If you as a company can target the customer’s need before the customer itself, you’ve hit gold. Years of data in CRM can be leveraged to do just that. The world is effectively heading into a territory where customer experience will grow to become the key differentiator, and deep personalization is the most popular train to it. Use your customer data to understand your customer, identify their preferences, needs, wants, and then tailor the experience with the help of AI to make them feel appreciated. Read more on how you can use SugarCRM to improve Customer Experience.

Our Two Bits!

Things may take a different route altogether but they will still have strings attached to the key differentiators we mentioned. The world of technology is volatile and it takes very little to change the course of things; who saw GDPR coming in 2018? Nonetheless, the focus on Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Data is where we see the CRM Industry heading, but then again, who’s to say they’re not already there?