How No-Code / Low-Code Works with the Sugar Platform
One of the joys, challenges, opportunities, and differentiators of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems is that they comply with how you want to run your organization. The CRM system should reflect your organization’s competitive advantage, support what makes you unique, and match your organization’s DNA. As an organization, you want to accomplish this without breaking the bank and without multi-year projects.
CRM systems become valuable to an organization when they are more than data repositories and extended Rolodexes. The most successful CRM systems are those where business processes happen in CRM. A successful CRM system is one where users go to get business done.
The CRM industry and SugarCRM offer No-Code / Low-Code (NCLC) capabilities to support faster time to value. These capabilities support the adaptation of CRM to an organization’s DNA without the need for specialized developers and complex projects. Your CRM administrator or business analyst can easily master No-Code capabilities.
Let us review how No-Code / Low-Code works for SugarCRM customers. Our goal is to enable our customers to create whole new business processes with a data structure, user interface forms, process guidance, process automation, and the reporting analysis needed to support those processes.
No-Code Front End Automation
To help our users, we provide automation of the user interface. With our No-Code Sugar Studio tool, a Sugar administrator can create user interfaces that adapt themselves to the information on the screen. It becomes easier to work a system when only the needed information is on the screen. Sugar allows an administrator to create the database tables and relationships, the dynamic forms, and record views without code. Customer records in Sugar can look completely different than prospect records or vendor records—all done without a line of code. The Sugar No-Code user interface designer supplies a collection of form elements such as text fields, image fields, drop-down selection fields, calculated fields, currency fields, and many more. Then you can drag them onto the canvas of a form to create a user interface for any purpose.
To guide our users through business processes, we enable our Sugar administrators to create those processes as what we call “Guided Processes.” They are created with No-Code to display the process in an intuitive checklist format. When a user encounters a record subject to a business process, the user is guided through the steps and asked to check the completed steps. The entire Guided Process is created and maintained without any code.
Sometimes processes can be a little tedious for the user. To remove the ‘busy-work’ sometimes involved in a business process, Sugar provides the concept of an ‘Action Button.’ An action button is a button placed by an administrator on a record screen that, when pressed, executes either a single task or a sequence of tasks, replacing a manual set of clicks and entries by the user. Action Buttons are without any code.
No-Code Back End Automation
Sugar provides an automation engine that monitors CRM records and responds to record conditions, entries, updates, and time passed. Sugar administrators define an unlimited set of processes that new records or updates can trigger to existing records. Processes are a set of decision trees, actions, and wait-for conditions configured in a visual drag and drop interface. No code is required to create a business process that may be unique to your organization. These automatons are valuable by reducing dependencies on human ‘busy work,’ speeding up desired next actions, and reducing process error.
While we like to think that Sugar can run a business by itself, sometimes it must interact with other systems. Sugar provides a “webhook” function to provide a No-Code method of pushing information to other systems. An administrator can instruct a webhook to fire without any code in response to a Sugar record update. This can pass information to an external system that supports webhooks that can carry on the business process in that system.
Integrations from Sugar to many other platforms can be accomplished through Sugar Integrate products and popular no-code integration platforms such as Zapier, Bedrock Make, and Starfish.
To support business processes, sometimes calculations and evaluations are required. Sugar provides the ability to use Excel-like formulas in many places. We call this Sugar Logic. Use these evaluative expressions to display the results of calculations, conditionally display record fields, conditionally present drop-down options, and conditionally change the layouts of entire records. These Sugar Logic expressions are a powerful no-code replacement for what other systems might require code to accomplish.
No-Code Reporting and Dashboards
Business processes need to be measured. Sugar provides for no-code, drag, and drop report creation. Reports can be created and placed as charts and tables on general dashboards or to support a specific record type.
With no-code capabilities, the Sugar platform provides security. Guardrails are built-in, and the user does not have to consider sometimes complex security and data access rules.
When our Sugar users or partners build a no-code process, they can easily package up and export the components for re-use in another system. This supports healthy change management practices where processes are built on a development system, tested on a Quality Assurance System, and deployed on a Production system.
Sugar is also developer-friendly, so there are many opportunities to add code to a Sugar system to turn the system into anything you want. With the extensive No-Code options added over the past few years, it is not often needed, but it’s good to know it is available if required.
Low-Code removes a lot of the overhead of custom coding projects by just inserting ‘helper’ code into areas otherwise maintained by No-Code configuration capabilities. This may result in gaining results in only 10-20% of the time of a ‘full-code’ customization. Since the development complexity is lower, less experienced developers are needed, or the learning curve for a developer to become capable is less steep.
One of Sugar’s Low-Code capabilities is the Logic Hook. A Logic Hook is a small snippet of code, usually written in PHP, triggered on a load, edit, or save of a record. Logic-Hooks is the next step if your organizational imagination takes you further than our no-code framework can provide. It is Low-Code in that a single Logic Hook may be about 10-50 lines of code to support the business functionality needed.
Another Sugar Low-Code capability is a Scheduled Job. A scheduled job is a routine written in PHP that is uploaded to the Sugar Job Scheduler and executed on a defined time. Typical jobs include cleanup days, execution of integration jobs, and such.
A very no-code way to extend your Sugar platform is to find it on SugarOutfitters, SugarCRM’s online marketplace for third-party extensions, plugins, and integrations to Sugar. Find hundreds of quality and affordable extensions to Sugar, download the package, test it on a sandbox environment, and add capability.
Time to value is the predominant demand from our mid-market customers. Embracing and adopting No-Code capabilities are the keys to achieving this for both customers and vendors. For the past decade, Sugar has been at the forefront of providing a flexible No-Code and Low-Code CRM system.
This article was originally published on the SugarClub Leadership Lounge, where Sugar’s leadership team discusses what’s on their minds and welcomes the SugarClub community to ask any questions or share insights about customer experience, CRM, technology, and building companies, or anything else!