Salesforce vs SugarCRM – Showdown!

The showdown of SugarCRM vs. Salesforce was inevitable and a long time coming, with these being the two most popular SaaS-based CRM solutions in use today. Before the SaaS revolution of a few years ago, CRM software’s niche was often filled by either tool chains such as office suites and database frontends, or obscure, difficult-to-use programs like Platypus. With the advent of SaaS making niche, very specifically-demographic-targeting designs not only practical but also profitable, an explosion of CRM solutions have erupted onto the market, some by big companies. Even Microsoft and Sun have thrown their hats into the ring of the CRM battle, and ongoing rumors that Google has a Drive-based CRM extension in the works continues to rear its head every few months, though it’s yet to be confirmed by any truly reputable sources as yet. So, when it comes to CRM, we’ve moved from a market of having little choice other than tying programs together, or resorting to Platypus, to having so many choices it’s a sensory overload we might drown in if we don’t keep our wits about us. That’s a major paradigm shift for a matter of a couple years. But, we’re not here for a retrospective, we’re here to decide who wins the battle of SugarCRM vs. Salesforce. These comparison pieces are usually much more cut and dry, with the virtues and shortcomings of each offsetting the other, and an overall victor coming out fairly clearly on top. But in this instance, it really depends on what you need and what kind of company you are. So, let’s just look at who needs which one, and from there, you can decide if you’re a Salesforce demographic or a SugarCRM demographic. Salesforce: Salesforce has the benefit and reputation of being the global leader of CRM software at the moment, with thousands of companies in many nations using their service to handle customer relations, marketing and sales efficiently and effectively. Salesforce isn’t open source, which means that adding behaviors to or modifying the overall behavior of Salesforce requires programming of their proprietary Apex API to create extensions and macros. On top of this, Salesforce is more ideal for larger companies which can afford programmers to write modifications, or who can afford the extensions in their (extensive ) App Exchange service that aren’t all free. At the same time, a competent IT specialist will need to be on hand whenever a new permission or major change is needed in the behavior or installation of Salesforce. SugarCRM: SugarCRM is a slightly different story, being open source. This opens up the ability to modify the core structure and framework of SugarCRM so that proprietary extensions aren’t necessarily required, and developing interoperability with third-party systems is theoretically considerably easier to accomplish. At the same time, SugarCRM is available as an on-site or a cloud installation, meaning that if you don’t want to go onsite, the cloud model requires less dedicated IT resources and assistance to configure and maintain. However, while SugarCRM’s support is quite strong, and the flexibility of its open source licensing makes it easy for skilled developers to bend it to their will, it does lack the level of experience and documentation of Salesforce, fail to mention the guaranteed professionalism via developers that Salesforce’s app exchange can offer. It’s cheaper, meaning it opens its access up to more budget and business scales than Salesforce might, but when it comes to CRM, immediate budget needs to take a back seat to long term viability, where Salesforce holds its own better. So, who wins the SugarCRM vs. Salesforce battle? Well, when it comes to professional needs on a large, growing scale, Salesforce is the obvious victor. However, if you’re a small startup with limited funds, or you’re dead set on being very proprietary and do-it-yourself, then you may in fact find SugarCRM agreeable starting out. It’s worth noting that, given Salesforce can grow organically with a company, that sooner or later, you’ll have to migrate to it, most likely, no matter how attached to SugarCRM you’ve become.  
Amanda is the Lead Author & Editor of Rainforce Blog. Amanda established the Rainforce blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Salesforce usage.