Accounting firm sweetens the deal with SugarCRM

Barney Beal

For BDO Seidman LLP, when it came

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time to connect its corporate offices to its network of independent alliance accounting firms across the country, a flexible application was a must.

The Chicago-based global accounting firm selected an application from Cupertino, Calif.-based SugarCRM Inc., a company founded less than two years ago that offers commercial open source software. The deal could add up to 9,000 users to SugarCRM's portfolio -- and with competitors and Entellium touting 5,000-seat deals, the BDO Seidman deployment is a significant win. However, the deal does not mean there are 9,000 licensed users on SugarCRM's application.

BDO Seidman is beginning with a small pilot project in-house and will extend the implementation to its independent alliance partners. BDO Seidman has 35 offices in the United States and a network of independent CPAs and consulting firms that will access the system.

"The new link and application on SugarCRM will be our mechanism to create a communication platform," said Valerie Kozikowski, partner at BDO Seidman. "In no way is this intended to be a full CRM system for alliance members to track customers. We are not handing them a full CRM solution and saying use that for your internal CRM purposes."

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What the company is doing is connecting up to 9,000 alliance partners to the central office through a customized deployment of SugarCRM's Professional Edition. The deployment will allow BDO Seidman and alliance members to share resources and work on opportunities with one another. For example, if one alliance member cannot provide the services a particular customer is seeking, they can forward that customer information to another member, Kozikowski said.

"We were looking for something with a very clean and simple user interface we could tailor without making a lot of changes," Kozikowski said. "Because some of our needs are unique in that we're connecting people who can be customers or referral sources, we needed a lot of flexibility. That was the No. 1 selection criteria."

SugarCRM's open source heritage was not a large factor for BDO, which also looked at traditional midmarket CRM applications like SalesLogix and Microsoft CRM. BDO Seidman contracted with SugarCRM to do the customization work it needed. While SugarCRM offers an on-demand option for customers hosting the data center at its own site, BDO has elected to pay for the licenses and host the application at its own location, ultimately allowing alliance partners to access the application remotely. Partners will have access to a version of SugarCRM with limited functionality, Kozikowski said. BDO Seidman will have the full Professional Edition functionality.

Last week, SugarCRM released its SugarSuite 4.0 beta version. The latest version includes new workflow management, advanced reporting, customizable dashboards, campaign management, inbound e-mail processing, enhanced lead sharing and mail merge.

While the company has seen its open source code downloaded more than 400,000 times, commercial SugarCRM customers number just over 300.

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