Nov 08

SugarCRM Now removed

We were very excited when we got the SugarCRM install up and running on the Linux Box, but our plans fell apart after we tried to install some additional software! Somehow we screwed up the CRM install which now keeps giving segmentation faults in Apache plus it is running out of memory even though we have allocated 128M! Imports of data fail at various points even though we have allocated enough memory to see if we could get round the problem (500M). So its back to square one and installing it on the i5 will still go ahead. Seems like the versions of PHP and MySQL etc are in conflict with the install so it just had to be removed.

Chris…

Nov 08

SugarCRM now installed on Gentoo Linux

SugarCRM is now up and running on our Gentoo Linux Box and seems to be fairly stable, I say fairly because we have a few niggling problems which we are looking into that stop certain functions from working.

The first install took days, mainly because we took our normal route and tried to just install it without too much reading of the manuals! It wasn’t the install that was the problem it was the merging of the data from our databases into the SugarCRM databases. We did eventually find a document which gave the correct way to install Account information and Contact information but that was after we spent many hours trying to tidy up the mess we created. So if you want to install the product and bring your data in, to make sure the contacts attach to the Accounts correctly you should install the Accounts first, then the contacts. Simple and makes sense but we did it the other way round and then installed the accounts, we ended up with thousands of account records which were duplicates. We then went through and manually merged the duplicates.
There is an option to merge duplicates which we used (incorrectly at first) which did help a bit but with over 2,500 records to merge it took a loooongggg time

The next problem we found was the non upgrade capability of the 5.2 beta version we installed, we were trawling through the forums and found a sticky which stated that no upgrade path would be available from the beta (or due to be released RC versions) to the GA version! Makes sense but when you go for the download the beta versions are the first you come across and seem to be pushed towards downloading them? So we then downloaded the Stable version 4.5.1g and installed it side by side in the hope of being able to migrate the data between two MySQL databases if not simply attach the old database to the new install. Unfortunately that did not work at all so we went back and re-merged our data. A couple of things we did find out when moving to the GA version which didnt appear in the beta version. First of all the PHP version we are using 5.2.4-plc-gentoo was not supported! so we had to add it to the relevant file after finding a note in the forums about it. Next was the session_save_path was not valid! We looked into the config file and it was commented out? It was a valid path so we simply uncommented it and it worked. A problem which we found on the GA version but not sure if it was in the beta version was due to names we exported in certain cases were full names and not split into FirstName,LastName, this resulted in those records being ignored because LastName is a required field. Each time we changed the config we had to restart the Apache Server as well so make sure you do…There were a few other problems such as the screen would show PHP errors after the install had finished but they didn’t seem to affect the final result (only time will tell?).

The next step was to set a few new options which were very easy and worked well, the interface and results seem to be better than I found when implementing MS CRM 3.0, but it does not have all the functionality of MS CRM 3.0 either.

Overall we liked the ease of the install of both versions, the 5.2 beta had a lot of nice new functions which we will definitely use once the GA version is available and an upgrade path provided. The current problems are probably to do with the way we have the environment configured and will be resolved quickly. I would not go back to the MS CRM 3.0 install even though it had some very nice features where automation and tracking are concerned. I am sure SugarCRM will eventually encompass a lot of that functionality eventually.

Now we have it installed and running in the Linux environment we will now start the LAMPS project again on the i515. We know the problems with installing it on the Linux Box so installing it on the i515 should be a lot easier?

Chris…

Oct 02

MS SQL Server and Reporting Services

I have been busy for the last few weeks trying to get a MS SQL2000 install updated to MS SQL2005 due to needing the Reporting Services at SQL 2005 so I can develop Reports for MS CRM 3.0.  This is probably the worst experience I have ever had in terms of software compatability!

One of my co-workers actually got an instance of SQL2000 Server to upgrade to SQL2005 Server which was running MS CRM 3.0 but the Reporting Server failed at every attempt to upgrade to 2005! I tried to fix it and screwed it up so much we had to restore the image we had prior to doing the initial upgrade of SQL Server 2000. We are now looking at how we can do the migration without bringing the servers down!

Here is the problem.

I have a fully functioning copy of Visual Studio 2005 with all the bells and whistles on it!  It allows me to create reports locally using the SQL2000 database but will not allow those reports to run on the report server. The reports have to be created using Visual Studio 2003 to allow them to run on SQL Report Server 2000.

I have a Standard Edition of Visual Studio C# which I download the additional Report development module from MS.  I can create reports using the SQL2000 database but I cannot test the reports locally because I need the Enterprise Version of Visual Studio 2003!  It allows me to see the data and check the SQL, but it does not allow me to create a data connection to the server! Oh and the new software is about $1600 if you can find a copy. Why offer a module for a Development Environment that doesnt allow the full functionality?

I also have Visual Studio C++ Proffessional Edition but it has not reporting Services module available!  I also have the Express versions of C#, C++ and webdeveloper all of which dont allow me to create reports!

When you install SQL2005 you automatically get a copy of the Visual Studio to installon the same SQL Server, I could connect via Remote Desktop and use this copy if only the reports I create would run on SQL 2000.

We have also tried to upgrade the CRM DB to 2005 (that worked) installed a new instance of Report Server (that worked) and then migrated the data from the old report Server DB to the new copy (that worked after a lot of problems) but the report server wont run the reports!

Next option is to try to install SQL 2005 server and report server of the same version, then install a fresh copy of CRM 3.0 over the SQ2005 Server instance.  Once we get to there, we should be able to migrate the Data from the existing (production) database to the new SQL2005 install and point everything at that instance! Perhaps we also need to try the upgrade of the CRM SQL2000 server to SQL Server 2005 before we have to migrate the data??? Add to this the problems we have had with ASP.Net versions and the IIS server allowing the applications to be installed then when you try to start them fall over saying you cant run 2 versions of ASP.Net in the same IIS website!!!

As you can see this is not something which gives you a good feeling about the integration of MS products.   So if you have to make choices about what software to choose consider what you might come across when you try to get a new product from the same company to talk with the other!

Chris…

Jul 20

MS CRM 3.0 Sales Process now in place

After many trials and tribulations I have finally managed to complete the sales process for the client. I could not use the sales process provided as part of the workflow so I had to build my own Rules based process which now waits in all the right places for data to be changed. The problem we were trying to overcome was one which many will face. How do you really determine the close probability of a sale? When you get your sales pipeline as a business owner you have to put some judgment against exactly what the sales person (or team) feels will close this month and future months. We felt this was not really helping with business planning and income forecasting which are very important in being able to develop your capital outlay and expense plans. So we looked around at what was available in the form of a sales process that should improve the closure rate. Then we had to put that into the CRM sales Process and we will hopefully see results in better forecasting. So we now have a process where each sale has to go through a set of data collection processes and we check the data entered (some are simple check boxes and that we have some data there). As the process continues we set the sales close probability by determining the data completion and the required actions have been taken. Reports which are my next task, should now show which sales have been progressed through this process and will hopefully provide a better close probability than a simple finger in the air check from the sales staff?? Only time will tell..

Chris…

Jul 10

MS CRM 3.0 challenges

I finally got the sales process to work in a manner which meets the initial requirements of the client. I now have the process sending out tasks for the sales rep to respond to and the data checking to ensure the data has been logged is working OK. I still have a long way to go before it is a solid solution but at least I have the basics working.. Later we will put the bells and whistles on and see if it can manage the IBM Special Bid process as well…

Next stage will be to fully test all of the scenarios so the staff don’t find ways to circumvent the process and no deadlocks occur. I have a few problems where the server doesn’t end a process before the next one fires, then complains about the first process not being finished and pausing the new one! Eventually it appears to start off again and during normal activity this should not be a problem because the sales staff should not be pushing data in the same way as my testing did…

I am not a big fan of the product but at least it seems to be slowly fitting together.

Chris…