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In this chapter, we introduced the topic of Customer Relationship Management and touched upon a number of important points as follows:

  • CRM applications have been evolving rapidly since the late 1990's, and are now delivering on their promise of enhancing business profitability, improving customer satisfaction and levels of service, as well as streamlining business processes.

  • CRM applications, once highly priced, are now affordable even for the smallest of businesses.

  • Most small businesses employ business systems that are not accessible outside their office, acting as a force that limits business communication with outbound workers, and tends to create communication barriers.

  • For smaller businesses, there are many valid CRM choices, namely, NetSuite,, Microsoft CRM, and SalesLogix. We have chosen SugarCRM Community Edition as our example CRM for this book, as it is free, and contains most of the latest features that make CRM adoption compelling for small and medium-size businesses.

  • CRM systems may be deployed as On-Demand web-based services, as application software to be installed on your own servers, or as server appliances delivered pre-loaded and ready to run. The choice is yours and involves some tradeoffs between cost and convenience.

  • To truly deliver on their promises, CRM systems typically must be customized to suit your business. There are several levels of complexity to this customization and the most recent CRMs help you do quite a bit of it yourself, rather than paying for expensive computer services staff to do it for you.

  • CRMs can help you track the sales performance of your business more closely with less work, see the future more clearly, and plan more effectively.

  • SugarCRM is a web-based open source CRM solution introduced in 2004, available as a free Community Edition or as an enhanced, commercial Professional or Enterprise Edition.

  • SugarCRM's web nature helps reduce administrative costs and makes it easy to use, greatly simplifying the methods involved in accessing customer information.

  • This book will take you through the entire process of determining your CRM needs, implementing and installing a CRM, getting your data into the CRM, rolling it out to your business and training staff and, customizing the CRM to maximize your business benefits.

  • Throughout this book, we will follow the experiences of Doc Newhart, and his fictional business RayDoc. The tales of his experiences here are taken from the real-life experiences of multiple CRM installations within smaller businesses.


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