CRM is generally considered a key component of ERP; SugarCRM is a widely used alternative that is open source. SugarCRM comes in several versions, including the free Community Edition (CE) and three paid versions with additional features.
I made a few notes as I installed version 6.5.5 of the CE, which I thought might be helpful:
First, install the IIS Manager application and set the default web site to port 8080. In IIS 7, you do this by clicking on the default site and choosing “bindings..” from the right-hand menu. This frees port 80 for SugarCRM.
I did the typical install which brings Sugar up.
You need to open port 80 on the firewall. The instructions for this are on the Microsoft site.
Other than these, the install is pretty automatic. Version 6.5.5 looks good! The screen print is of the top part of the Contact screen.
I’ve been looking at the 2012 / 6.1 version of Sage 300 ERP, which I still think about as ACCPAC. I think I was expecting some major changes to the user interface in this version, but not yet. Here are the major things I see in the 2013 version What’s New list and in the product:
Visual Process flows (click the image below to see the full screen). These are sort of like the “flowchart” start screen on the QuickBooks product. Start here –> here next –> finish here. I’m sure they will help novice users, particularly since you can click the “nodes” in the flowchart to launch the associated program. But I’m hard to impress.
Credit card processing integrated into the solution.
Numerous tweaks and enhancements, particularly in RMA (Return Material Authorization).
The PO, IC, and OE module data has been added to the Inquiry (query) function.
I’ll leave comments on other related products (like credit card processing) for later.
This morning, I had forgotten the password I used for a site that I needed to make a change on. The account is a free account, so I simply put in my email address and pressed the “reset my password” button. The email came in. I changed the setup. Then while I was on the site, I decided to add another item to my configuration. I’d forgotten that the limit for the free account was two items, and I already had two set up. The site redirected me to the paid signup form. A basic account was $20 per month. Not a huge fee. But the value of having three items monitored by the site was about $0.50 per month. Needless to say, I logged out of the account and moved on with my day.
I was in the middle of doing something else less than 10 minutes later when the phone rang, and I answered. It was the company whose website I’d just been on. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a programmer. I know it’s pretty easy to create a site that sends an email or a notice when someone does certain things on the site. But having someone call immediately after I’ve made a quick change on the site to sell me a service is a bit much. It’s a little bit creepy. It reminds me that my privacy is being violated every day I use the internet. I don’t mind the sales effort; I respect it. But if I had wanted to buy the service, I’d have bought. I see this as desperate. Maybe others don’t feel that way.
Here’s a brand new video about the free add-on for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Jet Express. Take a look at this ad-hoc reporting tool. With a little knowledge of Excel and Jet Express, you can also build Dashboards and other BI tools.
New releases of ERP and accounting software used to be a game of wait-and-see-what-new-features-are-in-this-release. Usually, there were major things like bank reconciliation or lot numbers that customers needed. Today, most software has these business requirement features; even QuickBooks is catching up with the required feature list.
So what’s next? Once the software provides most of the features needed to run a business, what then?
New ERP Software Developments
The current generation of accounting software is increasingly adding features that allow even the smallest businesses to analyze and work with the ERP data that is collected. These tools answer questions like: What is selling now? Has there been a change from last month? Last quarter? Last year? Where are our most profitable customers coming from?
These features have been around for a while, but the cost has come down dramatically and some publishers are building them into their base ERP products.
What’s Next for ERP Software?
If I had to guess, I’d guess that the next couple of years our customers will be increasingly concerned with (a) how to use the data they have, and (b) how to collect more customer data to increase sales and profitability.
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