01 Jul SugarCRM 7.6 Review – Part 1: Process Author Module
As long-awaited SugarCRM 7.6 has finally seen the daylight, we can now share our impressions regarding new functionality of the most popular open-source CRM system. As we have written in the previous post, the most significant changes were introduced in the area of the workflow mechanism. Along with the new version, users of Enterprise and Ultimate editions have gained access to completely new module Process Author. Having producer’s announcements in mind, our expectations regarding the new module were very high and that is why we have taken a closer look at first.
Once again we would like to emphasize that users accustomed to Workflow Manager well known from the previous versions of SugarCRM have absolutely nothing to worry about – the new module is not replacing the old one and it is available independently.
Process Author is managed with a graphical editor based on popular BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) which should not be a novelty for no one familiar with the area of business process modeling. The graphical editor is convenient and intuitive, however it takes a little effort to keep the created diagrams neat and esthetic.
A very nice surprise that quickly got our attention was non-limited number of defined conditions. It allows creating very elaborate processes within the system which is additionally facilitated by the possibility of defining business rules. Flexibility and capabilities related to time-based criteria were also improved compared to Workflow Manager. With Process Manager it is possible to automate tasks such as “x days before expiration date of a contract send an e-mail to a customer”. Thereby, the functionality that in the case of Workflow Manager required a significant customization – done some time ago by developers in eVolpe – is currently available as integral part of SugarCRM in Enterprise and Ultimate editions.
Thanks to the new module, the possibility of creating processes related to approval or verification of records. It can be used – for example – to control crucial activity of subordinate by supervisor. A very useful function is also monitoring the stage of an active process related to a particular user. It can be a significant facilitation for many SugarCRM users. For instance, they can now track the stage of an approval process for the contract that they have prepared.
What has to be appreciated is the variety of actions that can be performed within the process. We can distinguish:
- Creating and modifying records
- Sending e-mail notifications
- Changing assigned users
- Sending records for approval or verification to users
Compared to Workflow Manager, we can stumble upon some limitations in the area of process triggers. It is possible to make start of a process conditional on such events as creating a new record, first modification of a record or every other modification of a record. By default it is not possible to set up a trigger such as “creating and modifying a record”. Obviously, it can be circumvented by making two different triggers but it is not the most intuitive solution. We can also experience some minor limitations in terms of conditioning actions on changes in values of fields, but considering that Workflow Manager is still available in the system it is nothing that can be perceived as a significant disadvantage.
Basically, Process Author is an advanced and – for an experienced user – very friendly tool, beginners, on the other hand, might experience some difficulties regarding intuitiveness of UI. Also, it is worth noticing that the processes has to be configured with due diligence. Otherwise, there is a risk of defining faulty processes, which luckily in most cases is prevented by implemented BPMN syntax control.
Our high expectations towards the Process Author module were generally satisfied. The tool is comprehensive and in the hands of an experienced user offers decent capabilities. Nevertheless, designing processes should be done carefully and every possibility should be taken into consideration including compatibility of a process with role credentials. That is why key processes should be defined with a help of an analyst during implementation of the system. Minor infringements of this module can be easily removed with an appropriate customization, however even basic functionality of SugarCRM 7.6 offers much more in the area of the workflow mechanism compared to previous versions.
In the next part of SugarCRM 7.6 review we are going to take a closer look at changes introduced in other modules of this system.
- SugarCRM 7.6 Review – Part 2: Other improvements