SugarCRM launches project-planning application

Linux CRM vendor has new applications and opens first office outside the US

Three years after establishing itself as one of the first specialist CRM vendors running its software on Linux, SugarCRM has launched into the project-planning market.

The company launched a project-management application on Monday that integrates project planning into core CRM applications. A key feature is Sugar Projects, which gives users a 360-degree view of a project along with shared files, notes and benchmarks, and allows collaboration between internet users and customers. Also included is the ability to produce grids, templates and charts of projects.

The news follows the recent announcement that the company was opening its first office outside the US, in Ireland.

SugarCRM did not release details of exact pricing but, as with all SugarCRM applications, an open source version of the software is available alongside a paid-for version. Advanced editions of the software are available, and the company offers these with an on-site licence as an application server or as an on-demand service.

A key advantage for users, according to SugarCRM chairman and chief executive John Roberts, is that SugarCRM does not have "the extreme sales and marketing of the other CRM vendors". As a result, "R&D is a very large proportion of our budget", he said.

Roberts added that, although the software is not open source, it carries all the advantages for the user of open source. "There is no lock-in," he said. "For the other suppliers, it's all about how can I lock you in to a proprietary on-demand or proprietary software sale."

So far the company has 200 customers in Europe, and has provided 1.5 million downloads of its core software worldwide. Most of the downloaders have chosen the free, open source version of the software, Roberts said, but a growing proportion of companies are now taking the paid-for version.

And Roberts has no doubts that for a small company, SugarCRM has developed a business model that is working well and competing not just with traditional CRM vendors like Siebel but also with on-demand vendors like "We are doing to Salesforce what Salesforce did to Siebel a couple of years ago," Roberts said. 

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