Aug 27, 2021 7 min read

Using SugarCRM to Power Up Customer Data

We make sure SugarCRM is configured to work for your business

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Jon Berbaum

Jon Berbaum

As a new member of the Highland SaaS Solutions Delivery team of developers and solution architects, I am focused on directing all the functions and principles that make a successful and attentive CRM Developer. Our SaaS Solutions Delivery practice customizes and configures SugarCRM for global organizations so they can have a complete, clear, and unfragmented picture of their customer journey.

Reflecting on my studies and practice, Sugar prominently delivers the top CRM software experience with its innovations in handling lead management processes, sales records, and customer information. Sugar brings ease and order to create, develop, and maintain an organization's important relationships and has quickly become a business favorite for companies worldwide.

Customization and configuration of SugarCRM

As one of SugarCRM's Elite Partners, our team tailors the platform to be 100% in sync with our clients’ unique business needs, processes, and goals. We care about understanding your business, navigating past roadblocks and re-configuring solutions for seamless integrations into your work environment.

I am having a blast designing modifications and customizations that leverage the power of this platform for our clients. Our team brings many business solutions that lift the weight off the shoulders of our business partners. For me, that requires building any number of computational functions and program connections to capture, collate, compute, and convert data into sales leads, process automation, and insights that build connections across current and future customers. 

This customization process often brings up a curiosity for many sales teams:  what happens when you save a record in Sugar? How does Sugar collect, show, and modify the data that our clients put into the application, and how can this particular program handle such data at the speed and volume while supporting many of the most competitive businesses and teams? The process is relatively intuitive and direct, but the application opens up a world of possibilities, culminating in the most effective and responsive CRM application that fulfills all your hopes and needs.

How customer information moves through SugarCRM

To understand how Sugar adds records, we first have to understand Sugar’s primary building blocks. If we start with where the customer information is placed and how it travels through the application, we can see just how each piece of Sugar utilizes the data to operate its functions in an optimized and seamless manner.  Businesses connect to Sugar’s application using the proprietary framework for data visualization called Sidecar. This single-page web application helps Sugar display what is held in the database, allowing the web server to seamlessly deliver key data in a prompt and scalable operation. And our team crafts the on-demand interface customization of this app to be custom tailored for each client; while also leveraging Sugar’s ‘Extension Framework’ to add tools that promote highly-expansive job scheduling, responsive data management, simple connections to plugins, automation with Sugar Predict and more. It looks something like this:

We manipulate this behavior through use of Sugar’s customizable REST API platform, which powers the server-side business logic and interacts with the customer database. Information passed through the REST API is returned as JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and triggers actions in these three areas across the application: 

  1. Backbone.js - a lightweight JavaScript framework based on MVP (model–view–presenter) application design. 

  2. Components (Layouts, Views, and Fields) - all things renderable on the page.

  3. Context (Modules, Models, and Collections) - the container for the data for each page.

Once a record is updated by the REST API, the JSON data forms and triggers metadata in the Extension Framework, telling Sidecar how to view, alter, and use the data. 

After, the results hit the metadata, which prompts changes in the look and operation of the single-page application already staged on the browser. That application houses the entire framework for Sugar users, handling layout formatting and view processing on the browser and letting the Sugar web server handle the most necessary data transaction with the least amount of load time. It is the same as using one match to light one flame, and that flame starts to light several fuses centered at one place–triggering a dazzling array of fireworks.

Scalability with SugarCRM

Because Sugar’s application has a sophisticated Extension Framework built into it, software developers at Highland, like myself, can customize Sugar in an upgrade-safe and modular manner. We can build and configure multiple iterations of SugarCRM to fit your needs and make it scalable for any changes across your business operations. For example, Sugar can have wildly different outcomes when rendering database queries and visual edits than another instance, simply by updating its metadata in the SugarCloud.

The metadata has two notable variables:

  1. Vardefs = Metadata that exists on the server-side. Vardefs specify information about individual fields, relationships between, and usage of ‘SugarBeans,’ a data framework in SugarCRM. Each SugarBean contains methods to create, read/retrieve, update, and delete records in the database and any subclass of the SugarBean. 

  2. Viewdefs = Metadata that exists on the user side. Viewdefs define the user interface components and inform the browser on how to process and style the view and placement of that data.The sidecar primarily uses it to handle the overall look of Sugar. It then, processes those changes across Backbone.js, a lightweight JavaScript framework to fetch models and collections for use within their user interface, and Handlebars, a JavaScript library that lets Sugar create semantic templates. If any change to the look of the browser application involves the use of the data, Viewdefs handles how that data is formatted and displays it on-screen for the user. 

Multi-platform database management

The back and forth between your user browser and web server is at the heart of the SugarCRM record-saving process and epitomizes the backbone of Sugar’s agile and lightweight design. With this simple and consistent process, our development team can add freeform customizations and plugins to leverage the power of the Sugar app. 

Out of the box, Sugar uses a consistent platform across all SugarCRM users and devices (e.g., mobile, web, plug-ins, etc.). This means that you can rely on Sugar to work as intended wherever you need the data— and all customizations deliver the same results on any platform. 

Since all data transfers use the same method regardless of the platform (Sugar Mobile or the Sugar web application), you can guarantee consistent  database management. Sugar takes your data, processes it through JSON, and transfers it to the Sugar server application, ensuring fast and safe data delivery while minimizing the burden on your device.

Need help custom configuring SugarCRM?

 Highland is positioned to take a deep dive into your current systems and processes and chart a strategic path forward. We make sure SugarCRM is configured to work for your business and help you and your Sales and Marketing team see more leads and customers, capture real-time yet accurate results, and give you the tools you need to support customers quickly and confidently. It’s no wonder why SugarCRM received first place in the 2021 CRM Emotional Footprint Awards by Software Reviews—a ranking based entirely on user input. Many organizations around the world can now relinquish themselves of the stress of handling all of those processes that their business needs in such short order and let their customized SugarCRM platform do the work. 

Now you have a preliminary look behind the hood of SugarCRM and how Highland can custom configure the platform to ensure you see expected results, I look forward to hearing how we can help you meet your SugarCRM needs. I appreciate your attention, and I hope to add more insight into how we leverage Sugar to help you and your business thrive and leap far ahead of the curve.