Open source customer relationship management software

Custom Sales


SuiteCRM modules are commonly associated under the typical database one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships that are established in the relate fields of the subpanels. In the earlier workflow example, you saw the History and Activities subpanels. The action items in the subpanels represent a one-to-many relationship, wherein one lead can have many related actions. Clicking on (drilling down into) one of the action items reveals a relate field, which links back to the originating lead. This mechanism is simple, intuitive, and very powerful.

Furthermore, as you navigate around SuiteCRM, you quickly discover that your navigation is circular. It is easy to click from lead to action, action to lead, lead to contact, contact to account, account to opportunity, and so on. This empowers users with a simple method of information discovery.

Customization Tools

Of course, no database system ever provides exactly the functionality your business needs out of the box. Because SuiteCRM is open source, you could dive in under the hood and start making changes to the codebase. However, in many cases you don't need to do that, because SuiteCRM comes with its own customization studio (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The SuiteCRM Studio developer tool is a powerful application customization toolkit.

The SuiteCRM Studio developer tool provides a neat interface that enables the creation of a variety of new fields, including drop-down selection lists and relational fields. It provides an interface designer through which you can change the layouts of the Edit, View, List, and Search forms. To ensure SuiteCRM rebuilds the interfaces on each load, you need to switch to Developer Mode from Admin | System Settings | Advanced , which you find under the user drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner (Figure 6).

Figure 6: A number of customization tools are found under the user menu.

SuiteCRM also includes Module Builder (Figure 7), which enables the creation and integration of completely new modules and provides integration tools, including module export, through which it is possible to create customized modules that can be exported as a ZIP file and subsequently installed into another SuiteCRM instance. This method is a great way to test development ahead of installation onto a live system.

Figure 7: Module Builder lets you create completely new modules that you can even export to other SuiteCRM instances.

The tools for customizing SuiteCRM are accessed from the Profile selection under the user menu. The Administrator control panel provides a vast range of functionality for configuring SuiteCRM, including hiding and displaying modules; setting up security groups, roles, and general system behavior; and providing diagnostic and repair tools, including backup functions.


SuiteCRM offers so many more features than I can cover in this short article, and I encourage you to explore more. Your next step should be to perform the installation again, perhaps using a virtual machine. This time install the demonstration data, available from the More options panel in the database configuration panel (Figure 1) of the setup wizard, to populate SuiteCRM with example data, so you can explore a populated sales pipeline, as described earlier. Additionally, it provides plenty of data for exploring the SuiteCRM system in more detail, including examples of the charting dashlets, reports, and spot analytics.

To really experience the power of SuiteCRM, have a go at creating your own customizations with the Studio tools.

The Author

Rick Timmis is head of development for Lunar Target, a global counter-extremism, security, and intelligence agency. You can learn more about Rick at

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