A CRM system’s lifecycle presupposes inevitable updates not only due to changes in business, but also related to the release of a CRM system latest, more advanced, versions.
SugarCRM has released revolutionary enhanced CRM system Sugar 7, which provides new opportunities for the performance efficiency boost:
- Improved user interface which significantly simplifies and speeds up work: namely it offers in-line editing, advanced filtering, and preview option on both list and record view.
- New modules for better sales opportunity forecasting and intelligence, such as Revenue Line Items and the mechanism of agreeing quotes downward and upward, allow more efficient execution of sales and product management.
- In addition to usual dashboards contextual dashboards appeared for the most of key entities (Accounts, Leads, Opportunities, etc.), which provides a 360◦ view of the customer, faster and easier access to the data you need both within the CRM system and to other systems data.
- Dramatically new approach to viewing Activity stream and its usage as a collaboration tool drives up team work.
- Flexible Mobile client which now not only transfers client and opportunity bases to a device, but allows working in a usual intelligent dashboard environment.
In order to ensure all these enhancements, SugarCRM had to change the CRM system’s architecture substantially, which influenced API, used for the CRM system integration.
The article provides a summarized experience of implemented projects on migration from SugarCRM 6 to SugarCRM 7, to help you carry out an effective upgrade.
1) Defining migration requirements
In order to estimate the work scope of SugarCRM 7 migration, a preliminary research should be done. Firstly, the requirements of new version to the software environment are examined. It helps define which third-party software needs to be updated and which server nods have to be modernized. Secondly, it’s important to carry out the diagnostics of the existing system to spot the functionality to be migrated to the new version (it’s largely applicable to customizations). Thirdly, possible changes in integration gateways are analyzed, which can result in other system changes (ERP, DWH, marketing automation, etc.)
Take into account the fact that the architectures of SugarCRM versions 6 and 7 differ a lot, which is why you have to involve developers in studying the code of modules customized in SugarCRM 6. Big number of customizations complicates the migration process. So, it’s essential to learn SugarCRM 7 capabilities, since it includes a large number of new options, able to replace your old custom modules, which eliminates the need for their migration.
Based on the analysis results, we recommend preparing a “migration map” document, which on macro level will form the SugarCRM upgrade project tasks list.
2) Deciding on a work plan
The more detailed your plan is, the better. However, one should remember Winston Churchill’s words, who said: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”.
Experienced architects know that code transfer to a new architectural platform abounds in pitfalls hard to be foreseen. That’s why, remember the rule: “Testing, testing, testing”.
In our experience of SugarCRM 6 to SugarCRM 7 migration projects, as early as on the planning stage we recommend providing for at least 2 testing iterations, during which the upgraded system will be revised and the plan amended. But the more customized modules and integration gateways you have to migrate, the bigger number of iterations should be included to the plan.
3) Testing environment
NOTICE: the upgrade should be performed on a sandbox only, not on the production version of the system!
Bear in mind that you will need the sandbox not only for a CRM system, but also for integration gateways modules, which can require engagement of other contractors for maintaining such sandboxes.
4) Data migration
Relevant and full data within a CRM system is lifeblood of every company. Nevertheless, for many years of a system usage, a lot of duplicates are stored in a CRM system and appears a big number of information objects with incorrect classification or irrelevant data.
In order to improve the effectiveness of a migration project, we recommend identifying and eliminating such data issues, having planned the following types of work:
- Database scrubbing. Two types of work are presupposed: deduplication and removal of aged data. Despite the fact there are tools which offer automatic identification and duplicates removal, we recommend not to rely solely on algorithms, but to assign a person responsible for making decision on duplicates removal or merger. Otherwise, it is likely that significant data will be irrevocably deleted.
- Reclassification. It presupposes revision of classifiers and their values update in accordance with current segmentation and analytical data collection requirements.
These tasks may seem rather simple, but in practice they require quite an extensive time resource from business experts and analysts who will be able to algorithmize key data scrubbing processes to be transferred to developers. Also, you should make allowance for the fact that the process is of iterative nature, especially in terms of reclassification, and can take much time; in addition, it requires disc capacity for storing database backups in case errors occur.
5) Upgraded version installation
Installing the upgraded version it’s recommended to follow these two rules:
- Choose the right moment for migration to the new version. The examples of wrong time are: fiscal period closing, high business season. We recommend scheduling migration for weekend to minimize users’ working risks.
- Before a new version is deployed, it’s a must to do the backup for the possibility of restoring. In case you use SugarCRM On-Site , you have a possibility to deploy the system on a new server.
6) Users training
Although you just migrate from SugarCRM 6 to 7 and users will be familiar with most of features, however, not all users can easily accept the changes. According to the US Department of Labor, the employees’ productivity drops almost by 75% during unmanaged changes. Such negative statistics can be avoided applying change management approach:
- Inform all users via email or corporate portal, why SugarCRM upgrade is important for your company and what its goals are. It’s vital that the message is prepared on behalf of a company’s top management, in order to highlight the importance of the initiative.
- Involve key users into the testing process on the migration preparation stage, in order to receive the feedback as soon as possible and to spot “hidden pitfalls”, unobvious for technical staff.
- Make sure that the training materials exist not only in text but in media format as well. Not long (from 1 to 5 min) video lessons with an instructor’s voice comments allow employees easier and faster cope with new possibilities and procedures.
- The users should necessarily be trained to be good at those CRM system’s aspects, where the users interface has been the most dramatically changed: mobile client, lists and filtering features, setting – up contextual dashboards, Activity Streams and Revenue Line Items.
If you still forecast the adaptation process to be challenging, we recommend planning additional motivation schemes. Here is an example.
Having read the article you may conclude that migration from SugarCRM 6 to SugarCRM 7 is a complex task. And you are right if you think so. Although it’s not easy, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the migration idea.
Innovations in business ensure competitive advantage, staying one step in ahead of competitors. And since CRM means customer relationship management and customers are a keystone of every business, what should one invest in rather than development of customer relations?
If you need any support, don’t hesitate to contact us, we will be glad to help.