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7 Posts authored by: Katie Liesmann

With December starting this weekend and 2019 just around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to create a guide for our family of SugarCRM customers to use and plan for the upcoming year. Here are four things to think about as we approach 2019.

End-of-Life Dates

Sugar maintains an end-of-life schedule which you can access at any time here. It’s important to be aware of these dates and include in your plans for the year. End-of-life means that the specific version of Sugar will no longer be supported or maintained by SugarCRM. Once the end-of-life date passes, you can no longer call Sugar support to request help, and Sugar will no longer release bug fixes or perform security maintenance on your instance.

In 2019, the end-of-life date you need to know is October 31. On this date in 2019, Sugar 8 end-of-life will occur. If you need to, you can purchase extended support for Sugar 8 which will give you up to a year of additional support on that version. We recommend planning for end-of-life six months before the end-of-life date. It’s important to speak with your partner (such as W-Systems) to prepare for end-of-life and the changes that come with it.

Upgrades

Don’t forget that Sugar adopted a new release process in late 2017. This process is documented here. If you are a Sugar Cloud (On-Demand) customer, you know that your system will be automatically upgraded four times per year. We recommend you work with your partner each quarter to understand what is coming in each update and evaluate whether your system’s current customizations need to be updated during the upgrade process.

If your Sugar instance is On-Premise, there will be one update available to you each year. With the current Sugar release process, the next update will be Sugar 9 in 2019 and Sugar 10 in 2020. Some organizations try to remain on an older version of Sugar, but this is not something W-Systems would ever advise. You will not have access to bug fixes or protective security patches. And the longer you wait to upgrade, the more costly and time consuming your upgrade can become (whether it’s development time, training users, or counseling employees through change). It’s best to stay up-to-date with upgrades to keep your organization’s data secure and your CRM productivity optimized. Want to know more about when it’s best to upgrade?  Check out this blog post.

Optimization

Here at W-Systems, we don’t believe in a one-and-done CRM system implementation. We believe that you must continually evaluate and measure your CRM performance and optimize for improvement. Here are a few ways to do that in your yearly planning:

  • Choose some record views to improve. This may include deleting unused fields, renaming fields to more relevant company lingo, or streamlining using dependent fields.
  • Create some auto-populated fields using calculated fields in Sugar. You can use this tip to create consistent names for records.
  • Create some new Sugar reports for increased accountability.
  • Review business processes implemented in the last year and make sure they are reinforced in Sugar through required fields and automated workflows.

User Training/Onboarding

It’s really important to incorporate CRM training into your yearly calendar. This is easy with all the Sugar resources available to you, such as:

Recurrent training is critical because of user turnover and also any changes that might be implemented to your CRM software. If you are a larger organization or using Sugar Cloud, we recommend quarterly training. If you are a smaller organization, we recommend doing training as new employees are hired or upon your yearly upgrade.

Concluding Thoughts

If you need help creating a plan for your organization and Sugar in 2019, please reach out to us! We can help you evaluate where you currently are, what your goals should be, and what to do next.

This post originally appeared on w-systems.com.

CRM Return On Investment (ROI) is a complex topic. Many organizations are simply using ROI calculations to spice up presentations and aren’t using ROI metrics as a proven, valuable and trackable metric. Earlier this year, we heard Rebecca Watterson, of Nucleus Research, speak about CRM ROI at CRM Evolution 2018. Her organization uses research and innovation to construct a trusted CRM ROI calculation---and her ideas really stuck with us.

So what is the return on CRM? Surprisingly, it’s a flat model. For each dollar spent on CRM, the ROI increases by $8.71 (it doesn’t matter if you’re spending $10,000 or $1,000,000 on your CRM investment). Interestingly, this model changes based on other variables:

  • Average return goes up 4.2x if you use an edge CRM
  • A cloud-based CRM delivers 3.2x the ROI of on-premise CRM (this number continues to go up)

5 Tips for Presenting CRM ROI to your Leadership Team

 

So whether you are presenting to your management team to invest in the deployment of a new CRM or you want to invest in an additional CRM project--here are four tips from UpCurve Cloud based on Nucleus Cloud’s research for presenting CRM ROI to your leadership team:

1. Less is More

Rather than compiling a long list of all the benefits that your CRM implementation is going to deliver, focus on two or three really strong benefits. The term “less is more” rings true here. If you present more than five values, skeptics in the audience will start to wonder how much the CRM is really going to meet their expectations.

2. Direct vs. Indirect

Acknowledge the elephant in the room and plainly state which benefits and savings are direct and which are indirect. Direct savings are those that are those cost reductions that are guaranteed or expected to happen as a result of the CRM implementation. Examples of direct savings include:

  • Reducing your employee headcount
  • Avoiding regulatory fines
  • Decreasing costs of paper usage and travel time

Indirect savings are those that are caused by an increased worker or manager productivity. Indirect benefits might include:

  • Shorter sales cycle
  • More accurate sales forecasting
  • Less time spent on organizing and prioritizing
  • Other increased performance of metrics

The reason this is important is that the believability of these factors depends on whether they are direct or indirect. Your team is more likely to believe direct factors, and by acknowledging their doubt, you can then directly address it.

3. Use Research to Predict ROI

When you can, use research to calculate your ROI. You may not be able to perform a research experiment directly within your organization--but be creative with how you define “research”. Some examples of credible research include:

  • Direct observation at a pilot site
  • Corporate history
  • Surveys and employee interviews
  • Case studies from similar companies

If these types of research are unavailable to you, Nucleus Research suggested you should still always do an assessment--use benchmark data, educated guesses, and vendor estimated supplies. Any analysis is better than none.

4. Use Correction Factors

As an employee at a CRM partner who has done over 1,000 implementations, and interviewed countless successful customers for case studies, I know that productivity improvements are a large source of success for many organizations using CRM systems. But, as Nucleus Research has found in their studies, everyone discounts indirect benefits such as productivity. By using a correction factor, everyone can agree on the initial benefit and then discount it to be conservative. This usually satisfies skeptics and financial managers.

This correction factor is explained by the fact that while a CRM tool does provide an employee with more time, what they do with that time is not always productive. Your correction factor is a number between 0 and 1 that you use to adjust the value of their increased productivity.

Assign a higher correction factor (.7 to .9) to people who are highly motivated to use saved time for additional work (such as sales reps and line workers). Use a lower correction factor for roles who are less likely to use saved time effectively (such as marketers). If you’re not sure, use .5 as an average and conservative measure. You can also calculate your ROI with different correction factors for sensitivity analysis into how productivity changes indirectly affect the total ROI of your project.

Concluding Thoughts

We’re curious to see what further innovation Nucleus Research brings to the industry’s thoughts on ROI. Nucleus Research has produced a CRM ROI calculation tool for your CRM implementation. You can download it here or to learn more about CRM financial modeling, reach out to us here.

This article was originally published on UpCurve Cloud's blog

SugarCRM’s next product release, known as Sugar 8, is just out and includes all the features from the last two product releases and Spring ‘18. Here’s a look at some of the great new features new to on-site users in this update.

A Brand New Look & Feel

Sugar 8 includes a new user interface that is cleaner, more modern, and more consistent. While the switch from Sugar 6 to Sugar 7 was a challenge for some companies, the upgrade to Sugar 8 should be more straightforward merely because these changes are visual updates only to HTML and CSS. The new appearance is more intuitive than ever and now matches the mobile app design for consistency across devices.

Product Catalog Dashlet

The new Product Catalog Dashlet lets users click on items within a product catalog and quickly add them to a quote or other documents that they generate in Sugar. The product catalog is a visual representation of all your products, available within the intelligence panel.

Interactive & Actionable Drill-Through Charts

Another reporting improvement! Users can click on a segment of a chart or graph and see a drill down of the data within that segment. Once users are in the list view, they can modify data using in-line editing.

New Emails Module

The old email client (did anyone even use that?) has been deleted and replaced with a much-improved emails module. The new module is built on the sidecar framework (coding speak for the fancy side panel) and allows you to preview emails from subpanels or list views by clicking on the eye icon.

Closing Thoughts

The Sugar 8 release will also include several brand new features from the coming Spring ‘18 release. The details of this release haven't gone public yet--so we can’t spill the beans (or the sugar cubes). Stay tuned on April 27th for a release recap.

P.S. In late 2017 Sugar updated their release schedule--get the scoop on that here. Since then, on-demand users see a product release once per quarter, and on-premise users get a roll-up release once per year.

This post was originally published on www.upcurvecloud.com

When the Customer Journey Plugin was released in August earlier this year, our tech-savvy customers and friends within the Sugar community quickly jumped on learning about the tool and how they could apply it to their business. While the general consensus was that it was a really cool tool, many businesses felt it didn’t apply to them since they hadn’t built out a customer journey yet. In response, Epicom took the time to dive deeper into the product from Addoptify and find out where it would be most useful for our customers.

 

We sat down with Krisitian af Sandeberg, the CEO of Addoptify, to learn about how businesses are successfully using the product. What we learned is that the Customer Journey Plugin should be thought of as much more than just a “customer journey tool” because it can be used to manage ANY process in your business. So today, we look at the Customer Journey Plugin in a new way--as a process management tool.

 

What processes do you have throughout your organization that have multiple steps? Here are some ways to identify processes that could be managed using the Customer Journey Plugin for Sugar:

  • Think of processes that not enough people follow or abide by. Some examples might be the lead qualification process, the process for hand-off of accounts from account execs to account managers, or the quote approval process.
  • Identify processes that your organization’s leadership needs even further insight into. Examples might be lead assignment processes or opportunity creation process.
  • Brainstorm a list of processes that vary between different regions, different product lines, or existing vs. new customers.

Processes can be very complex, hard to keep up with (especially as they change over time) and it can be difficult to have insight into whether users are actually following them. This is where the plugin comes in. To demonstrate how any process can be visually created and managed via the plugin, here’s a fun example we built out of the process for building a PB&J sandwich. 

 

silly_example_customer_journey_plugin_sugarcrm

 

On a more serious note, we also created examples for Sales, Marketing and Support processes. In the example below we built a customer journey for the process of creating opportunities in the sales department. 

 

sugarcrm_customer_journey_plugin_sales_process

 

There are several benefits of using the Customer Journey Plugin to manage processes. The graphical view allows users to quickly glance and see where each record lies in a process assigned to them. Management also has additional insight into the workload and forecast of each rep because they can report on the Customer Journey Module. Overall, the plugin enforces more consistent following of processes throughout your organization.

 

Now that you’ve learned about a new way to think about the plugin, you probably want to learn how to use it. Check out the recording of our recent webcast on how to use the plugin, or reach out to Epicom to learn about a current end-of-year promotion we are offering for the plugin.

While Sugar is most known for sales team enablement, it also has features that make it great for marketing teams. Keep reading to learn three ways to use Sugar for marketing.  

 

Segment Records

You wouldn’t put a customer and a prospective customer through the same kind of marketing campaign, would you? Sugar’s Target List Module lets you segment your customers based on the type of campaign you are working on. Target lists can be applied to a Campaign for emailing, or exported for event or telephone campaigns. Target Lists are created by pulling from previously created reports. You could use those reports to segment customers based on where they are in the sales cycle, assigned rep, geographical location, and more.

 

Create Automated Nurtures

An email nurture allows you to send marketing messages to leads not being actively worked, allowing you to stay top of mind. Although not the most robust marketing campaign tool on the market, Sugar can definitely be used to build basic nurture campaigns. You can use a scheduler to send emails to your contacts on specified dates and times. The emails are built using HTML and you can build in dynamic fields to personalize emails with peoples names, titles, company name, or other fields in your CRM.

 

Use Metrics to track Campaign Success

Sugar will track which Leads, Contacts or Opportunities are associated with each campaign. This allows the user to calculate ROI and track the success of each campaign in the system. You can drill down even further to see how each email message performs by using tracker links, which allow you to track email opens and link clicks. This information arms the marketing team to continuously improve upon campaign strategy. 

 

To learn best practices about working with Target Lists and Campaigns in Sugar, sign up for our upcoming Sugar User Group in which we’ll do a short training on creating Campaigns.

Every CRM contains valuable data, but without knowing how to take advantage of the data, you won’t get very far. Here are three best practices from CRM consulting firm Epicom on working with reports in Sugar to get the most of your data.

 

Choose the Right Report Type

Before creating any reports, it’s important to understand each type of report in Sugar so you can maximize the value of each report you create. In Sugar’s reporting module, there are four types of reports you can build: rows and columns, summation, summation with details, and matrix. Let’s talk about these reports in order of complexity.

 

A rows and columns report is the most basic report type in Sugar. It pulls in records meeting certain criteria and is similar to saving a filtered Sugar search. This should be used when you are trying to create a list for the Campaigns module or when you need to export a file for use in excel (as this is the only report that is exportable).

 

A summation report also filters on records meeting certain criteria, but in addition it provides numeric totals for you (averages, sums, counts, etc). When creating the report you will have the option to “group” these records by a certain field. Examples you might find relevant are grouping by the assigned owner, location, lead source or status fields.

 

A summation with details report is the same as a summation report, but it allows you to drill down into the specific records rather than just giving numeric totals. Summation and summation with details reports should be used if you want to pull a report into a dashlet or want to view a visual display of data in a chart.

 

A matrix report provides similar data as a summation with details report, but instead of a list it displays the data in a gridview (think excel pivot charts).

 

Use Run Time Filters

Run time filters enable you and your users to modify reports easily and on the fly by allowing you to change some of the report criteria each time the report is run. This also prevents admins from having to create several similar reports with one criteria (i.e. assigned to user) being different in each report.

 

If you add a run time filter to the “assigned to user” field, then each user could run the report only on records assigned to them (or a manager could assess each individual separately). Another example is adding a run-time filter to the campaign ID--which would let sales reps filter on prospects or leads from different campaign sources, and work on completing follow-up or prospecting through those lists.

 

 

 

Increase Report Visibility

Your users won’t benefit from reports if they aren’t looking at them or using them on a regular basis. Epicom has three suggestions for increasing report visibility. First, run team meetings out of Sugar’s reporting modules. Rather than exporting the data to excel or taking screenshots and putting them in powerpoints, actually open up the reports in Sugar and show your team important metrics. This increases people’s familiarity of the reporting module and also holds them accountable to enter their data since they know the whole company is viewing it. Second, pull reports into dashlets on user’s home page Dashboards. This will be the first thing they see each time they log in and make it quick to reference reports. Third, setup daily email reports for your users. This alerts users to monitor changes to data on a regular basis.

 

 

Reporting is a very powerful tool if you know how to take advantage of it. Do you have any tips on reporting in Sugar? Comment below to let Epicom know.

By adopting Sugar, you've already made a step in the right direction in making your users more productive. Another way to improve user productivity is to integrate your Sugar instance with your company communication tool. Today many organizations are using Slack to communicate, which is why Epicom created a free integration between Slack and Sugar. Keep reading to learn how the app works and how you can use it to increase user productivity.

 

Value of Integrating Slack & Sugar

This integration is designed to improve user productivity, increase user adoption of Sugar, and improve transparency into company data across the organization. The app lets your users reference Leads, Cases, and more, without having a Sugar License. This means that anyone in your organization who uses Slack can now see record info that’s relevant to them (for example, accounting could pull up info on the main point of contact at a customer account). The recurring reports increase transparency into company data--which in turn increases accountability to perform well and to enter data into Sugar.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.13.19 PM.png

 

Basic Functionality

Epicom’s Sugar integration for Slack combines Slack, an effective group communication tool, with Sugar, a powerful and affordable CRM platform. Your team can view and collaborate on Sugar data for Accounts, Leads and Cases within Slack. The integration has three main functions: commands, reports (notifications), and questions. Users interact with sugarbot, a fun character who retrieves information from Sugar, using predefined commands and questions. Reports are received as notifications on a weekly or monthly basis--choose from a list of predefined reports such as weekly new leads or opportunities won each month.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 5.13.58 PM.png

 

Ability to Customize

There are many ways to add more functionality to the Sugar integration for Slack. The app can be customized to access more modules, to create records, or to run reports on the fly. You could use Slack as a support tool and let your customers create support cases. You could use it to let employees who don’t have a Sugar license report a bug or issue they are dealing with. And those are just a few ideas. The open API of both Slack and Sugar allow the application to be customized to your needs. 

 

Not only did the integration win "best in class" for the category of user productivity at SugarCon's App Throwdown, but it also has been featured on Slack's blog. You can download and install the Sugar integration for Slack on Sugar Exchange by going here. Or if you have questions, reach out to our team here. What tool do you use to communicate? Do you have a way to integrate the two? Let us know in the comments!