wiki:projects/crm_review/installation

MFPL/PTP CRM Review Installation Report

The demos

Installation

Ease of installation is not a criteria we are evaluating. However, in the interests of documentation, I'm going to record my experiences here.

Sugar CRM

I'm downloading the Community Edition (without the stack, since I already have PHP, MySQL, and Apache installed). I'm downloading version 5.0.0.f.

For starters, based on the documentation, I had to increase the amount of memory allocated to php to 40 M (on Debian systems the default is 16M). MFPL allows members to set their own memory limit. I'm not sure if other providers allow that or what limitations we should expect out in the wild.

I then unzipped the download into my web directory and pointed my browser to the web site. I got a nicely formatted install screen. After passing the requirements test, I chose typical install over custom install.

I filled in my database info and chose not to pre-populate the database with demo data. A few screens later, including one asking me to register with SugarCRM (which I skipped), I was ready to go.

All in all - a very easy installation.

vtiger

My first decision is whether I want the binary or source. Hm. I'm going with source because I'd rather not execute a binary that I know nothing about. The version I'm using is 5.0.4.

vtiger makes the sugarcrm requirement of 40M seem downright negligible. The biggy is a requirement of php5 - many commercial hosting provider are still running PHP4. In addition, vtiger wants:

Directives that are enabled by default in debian already - no change needed:

safe_mode = Off
display_errors = On
file_uploads = On
register_globals = Off
log_errors = Off
short_open_tag= On 

Directives that need to be changed:

max_execution_time = 600 (default on debian: 30)
memory_limit  = 64M  (default on debian: 16M)

Directives that need to be changed that I don't want to change

error_reporting=E_WARNING& ~E_NOTICE (default on debian: E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE)
output_buffering = On (default on debian: Off)

They want less errors to be reported. Keeping the debian default should be fine.

As for output buffering, the comments in the php.ini file says:

; Output buffering allows you to send header lines (including cookies) even
; after you send body content, at the price of slowing PHP's output layer a
; bit.  You can enable output buffering during runtime by calling the output
; buffering functions.  You can also enable output buffering for all files by
; setting this directive to On.  If you wish to limit the size of the buffer
; to a certain size - you can use a maximum number of bytes instead of 'On', as
; a value for this directive (e.g., output_buffering=4096).

I'm going to try to run vtiger with this turned off and see if it works anyway.

vtiger wants me to register. They say it's required, but I left it blank and got no errors.

Predictable installation screens... although they wanted me to enter my currently name, symbol and code. Not sure what code means (and it was a text field). I entered "0.00".

I also chose not to install the demo data.

After hitting the final install button, the screen said: "The installation will take at least 4 minutes." I guess that's why the execution time has to be increased. Why does it take 4 minutes? Ah... looking through the docs I found:

From a search of issues in 5.0.4 this appears to be a deal breaker.  If you can’t set max_execution_time = 600 then you probably will not be able to complete the building of all 317 tables.  Your install will finish without apparent error but you will only have a fraction of the necessary tables.

317 tables. Sheesh. sugarcrm only has 97. I can't wait to explain to someone how to export their contacts from this database.

CiviCRM

I started with a Drupal installation. I know there's a standalone version of CiviCRM - however, I chose the Drupal path because I believe it will give us more flexibility to extend CiviCRM.

CiviCRM is firmly in the PHP version 5 camp, no php4 allowed here. In addition, it requires MySQL version 5.

I downloaded version 2.0.4 from sourceforge and unpacked it into sites/all/modules and then I pointed my browser to sites/all/modules/civicrm/install/. Most Drupal module simply need you to check a box on the modules page. Given what CiviCRM does and the behavior or the other programs during installation, this extra step seems more than reasonable.

CiviCRM only wants me to change the PHP memory directive (it wants 64M). Installation was very straight forward.

How they stackup to our Features

I'm going to discuss each CRM separately, breaking down the features based on category. It won't provide a direct head-to-head comparison of features between CRMs, however, I think it will provide a more realistic assessment of each program.

This is my first pass - what can I figure out without reading any documentation or digging very deeply. I'll do a re-write after I done a first pass on each package.

Sugar CRM

Basic Member Info

On the positive side - they have a nice email tracking - you can add as many email addresses as you want. Only one can be primary, each address can be checked as opt-out or invalid. Only two postal addresses are allowed (one is primary). Contacts can be assigned to a login name.

On the negative side, on first run through, I can't find anyway to indicate that an address or phone number is bad. Although I'm sure it's here somewhere, I don't easily see how I can track any kind of demographic data, add my own custom fields, indicate when the best time to reach people is (aside from using the generic description field), indicate what type of person it is (ally, member, etc), add voter data, or indicate what relationship they have to the organization.

Individual vs. Group/Household identity

I'm still wrapping my head around this - but I think I have the basic idea. An account is a company. An account can have multiple "Member organizations" which are also companies. A contact is an individual person that belongs to one account.

If we forget the terminology and the capitalist context (ownership, annual revenue, SIC code) - I think this would allow groups to have both organizations and coalitions. With coalitions we could track which organizations are members. We could assign a contact to either an organization or a coalition. Contacts can only be assigned to once organization or coalition.

No indication of household.

Interactions and Transactions

SugarCRM has some really heavy duty transaction and interaction support. Out of the box you can track: activities, history, leads, opportunities, cases, bugs, direct reports, projects, and campaigns. Campaigns, of course, caught my eye. It is, of course, advertising campaigns. Sigh.

I think the real question with SugarCRM is how easy is it to hide some of this and tweak the language.

General Reporting/Exporting

It looks like the user interface has a standard export button on all lists (contacts, accounts, etc). which seems to allow you to easily export in CSV any list you've generated. The search features both a simple search and an advanced search. The advanced search allows for more search fields, allows you to save searches and allows you to specify which fields to output. I don't see any way to do complex boolean searches.

As for reporting, I think they've punted on that one.

Access/Controls

On first pass through, I'm not seeing sophisticated access controls - there's admin and not admin.

On my browser, it's beautiful and very well designed. If I had to navigate on a tiny mobile device I might commit suicide. I don't see any mobile version of the interface either. Google shows lots of ways people are integrating SugarCRM into their mobile devices, including a proprietary blackberry program.

Membership metrics

This would have to be built. Nothing even close. And, given my impression of SugarCRM's uses, I don't think any other users would be interested in the feature.

Usability

On my first pass, I didn't read any documentation, and was able to get around relatively easily. I'm fairly impressed with it's design and ease of use.

Developer/Code

Haven't looked under the hood yet.

vtiger

Basic Member Info

On the positive side - Only two postal addresses are allowed (one is primary). Contacts can be assigned to a login name. And - it took all of 10 seconds to figure out how to add my own custom fields to any of the screens. Very nice.

On the negative side, on first run through: only room for one email (you can opt out, but can't indicate that it is bad). I can't find anyway to indicate that an address or phone number is bad. Although I'm sure it's here somewhere, I don't easily see how I can track any kind of demographic data, indicate when the best time to reach people is (aside from using the generic description field), indicate what type of person it is (ally, member, etc), add voter data, or indicate what relationship they have to the organization.

Individual vs. Group/Household identity

Like SugarCRM, there are contacts and accounts. You can assign a contact to an account. Unlike SugarCRM there is no way to link an account to another account.

No indication of household.

Interactions and Transactions

Like SugarCRM there is an endless list of potential transactions for each contact and each account - all geared out of the box for selling things to people.

General Reporting/Exporting

There is a generic export (and import) button. In addition, I much much prefer the search feature of vtiger to SugarCRM. The simple search is, well, a simple search. The advanced search allows you to select from every available field (including the custom one I added) and then indicate whether you want a boolean and/or search).

In addition, they have a full on reports area with a list of built-in reports that can be viewed on screen, exported to a spread sheet or printed as PDF. And they have nice wizards allowing you to customize the input and output of the reports.

Access/Controls

The access control is amazingly granular. You have users and groups and roles and profiles. You can drill down to individual fields (including custom fields). I haven't really explored it carefully, but on first glance it looks extremely sophisticated.

vtiger seems to be in the same boat as SugarCRM when it comes to access on mobile devices.

Membership metrics

Same as SugarCRM...

Usability

Not as elegant as SugarCRM - however, a reasonably easy to use interface nonetheless.

Developer/Code

Haven't looked under the hood yet.

CiviCRM

Basic Member Info

Wow. There's really little competition here. CiviCRM was designed with our contact model in mind. There seems to be a way to assign multiple addresses (although I'm having some difficulty getting that to work at the moment). There's a source field (is that for indicating who initially contacted them?). There's plenty of room for multiple emails and you can indicate ones that are "on hold." Simple demographic data (gender and birthday) is in by default. Adding custom fields is a snap. No built-in way to indicate the best time to reach, but every communication mode has a "preferred" one.

There's no way to indicate what type of person it is - although it could be easily added as a new field, or we could use the relationship feature which allows you to determine the relationship of one contact with another (if you enter your own organization you could relate a contact to yourself that way). I can't find anyway to indicate that an address or phone number is bad. And no voter data.

Individual vs. Group/Household identity

CiviCRM was built to address the issue of groups and households. CiviCRM handles these relationships extremely well.

Interactions and Transactions

There isn't an endless list of sales related interactions like there is with SugarCRM and vtiger. However, there is flexible event related tracking and the activities related tracking allows you to create arbitrary activities to keep track of.

General Reporting/Exporting

CiviCRM has three levels of searching: simple, advanced, and a very sophisticated advanced search builder (including custom fields).

The export feature is also really sophisticated - with a wizard that allows users to select the fields to be exported among other options.

As for reports, there's CiviReport which terrifies me (copy of database on my desktop? tomcat?!?).

Access/Controls

CiviCRM on Drupal makes extensive use of Drupal's user/role/privileges system allowing for some very fine grained controls. In addition, CiviCRM has additional controls that go beyond Drupal to control access to specific fields.

Membership metrics

Same as SugarCRM and vtiger ... however, I expect that if we built something like this it would be incorporated into the mainline code (or at least could be packaged as a module).

Usability

The usability is not as easy or clear as SugarCRM or vtiger - however, not having to dig through the corporate speak makes it a lot easier.

Developer/Code

Haven't looked under the hood yet.

Last modified 11 years ago Last modified on Oct 23, 2008, 11:50:05 AM