SugarCRM is, for the most part, a channel sales organization. What this means for new users is that depending on the company/channel that the SugarCRM licenses are bought through, the new customer may or may not be given “the necessities” after the purchase. “The necessities” in this case are the links to information required to answer product questions after the sale takes place. In many instances new customers are given a license key and information about professional services and consulting.
In the next few paragraphs I will point you to the additional documents that you will need to have on hand in order to answer product questions as you move forward with your new CRM.
The first area that we will look at is the SugarCRM Documentation page. Once you browse to this page you can pick the SugarCRM Edition that you are using and then the tab with your version. Under this tab there will be two or three guides depending on your version.
The first is the User Guide which will tell you about using every area of the product except the admin section. The documentation is very well written and answers almost any question that you may have.
The second document is the Installation and Administration Guide. This document will tell you everything that you need to know about the administration of SugarCRM. The installation portion will tell you how to install SugarCRM but will not tell you how to setup the webserver which is required to run the software. This is left out mainly because there are just to many different configurations and types of webservers on the market for SugarCRM to effectively provide this data. Also, if you are not familiar with or do not have someone that knows webservers in your organization then you should purchase the SaaS service and let someone else host SugarCRM.
The last guide is the developers guide. Currently this can be found in the forum or under the SugarCRM 5.1 version tab. It provides information about how SugarCRM operates internally so that you can make upgrade safe customizations and more easily adapt SugarCRM to your organization.
SugarCRM offers a healthy amount of documentation on the product. In conjunction with the documentation they also offer training, 80% of which is free. When you browse to the SugarUniversity page you will be presented with the SugarCRM Online Library and the Learning Sessions. The library holds step by step tutorials in written format and the learning sessions are videos that tell you how to use various areas of the product. I suggest that most users head over to the learning sessions and spend some time getting to know the product before they login.
After you have searched the documentation and watched the videos you may still have questions. If you browse over to the SugarCRM Forum you will see a very active Help section. In this section you can post any general help related questions that you may have. Another good tip is to post to the forum before you open a support ticket. Most of the time someone else will be on the forum at the same time you are and can provide a quick answer or follow up.
Support vs Code Support
SugarCRM Support is the place that you go once you have exhausted all of the options above. One thing that SugarCRM support will not help you with is code level changes. Most of the time if it is in the form of a question such as “where should I put this file for it to be upgrade safe” then they will help. But sending code snippets asking for them to tell you why something won’t work is not part of the contract. Coding is one of those things were there is just to many variables. So, stick to sending in support tickets on product questions that you can ‘t figure out or if something breaks. For the developers, SugarCRM offers the forum and the Developer Zone.
The Developer Zone is exactly what the title says. It is an area of the SugarCRM site that provides information around developing in SugarCRM. The blog is frequently updated by engineers and other SugarCRM team members which provides you up to date information about addons to various areas of the product. The tools and tutorials sections allow anyone to provide documents written about SugarCRM which range from “Light boxing in a detail view” to “Programmatically Hiding and Displaying Panels Based on the Value of A Drop Down in 5.1.”
SugarForge vs SugarExchange
The questions about SugarForge and SugarExchange come up for almost every new SugarCRM user. The forge and exchange are places to download modules that will add to the functionality of SugarCRM. They are very easy to install and instructions can be found in the Installation and Administration Guide.
SugarForge is where developers can post modules that they want to share with everyone at no cost. These are use at your own risk modules that you will want to try out on a test machine before deploying to production.
This area is where users can buy and sell modules. One things to keep and eye out for in this section is the Certified by SugarCRM logo. This means that when you purchase a module, if it causes a problem with your SugarCRM instance that the SugarCRM support group will assist you. This points out another tip. SugarCRM support will not help you with 3rd party modules. You will need to contact the module builder to get support.
I hope that this has lead you to SugarCRM resources that you were not aware of and that will help you get moving in the right direction. If you have any other resources that were helpful to you during the time you were learning about SugarCRM please comment or email them to me.