Integrating Maps, Target Lists, and Accounts in SugarCRM
Last week I sat down with W-Systems Software Engineer, Keith Neuendorff. During our chat about Sugar 7 and all its savvy new features, we started to dive into a customer project he recently wrapped up. I enjoyed hearing about this project because it integrated a very cool and useful tool we use nearly everyday: Maps! Keith was able to customize our customer's SugarCRM system so that they could use a map to view all of the Accounts they had in a given area.
This particular customer worked in the real estate industry and wanted a way to simplify their internal processes for generating lists of Accounts in a geographic area. They wanted to use the map feature to view a geographic area and then generate a client list for all of the Accounts that fall in that area.
Traditionally, if you need to look up a list of Accounts or other records within a specific region, you would need to do a search on the exact city or zip code for the entire region. This would require you to know every surrounding city or zip code off the top of your head and would only display the data in a list view.
Our customer wanted to skip that process and allow their sales team to use a map to access each region, city/state, and Account. They wanted the ability to search an entire map, allowing them to zoom in and out of particular regions, making the search easier and more comprehensible.
Accounts in different categories are represented by different types of pins on the map. For example, larger Accounts have a different color and prospecting Accounts are marked with a letter on their map pin. Totals for each category are also given below the map to help the user better understand what they are viewing on the map. Also, when you hover over a pin on the map, a cool popup window shows information about the Account that the pin represents.
When the customer selects the final region on the map, they can generate a list of all the Accounts shown on the map by pressing a “Generate Target Lists” button below the map. This captures all the markers that are currently displayed on the map and places those records into a new Target List within Sugar.
Sounds simple enough right? Well, this project was a bit more complicated and it was Keith’s first one completed in Sugar 7 while using Sugar 7’s new V10 Rest API. After some research and brainstorming, Keith was able to extend Sugar 7 to fit the map within the targets list module which allowed the integration to access data from Sugar and easily display them within the map.
He also used Open Street Maps to provide the actual map data and user interface component. Open Street Map is a free, open source mapping database that allows people to have full visibility of cities and streets within the U.S. and most of the world.
Before migrating to SugarCRM, our customer used a Google Maps based tool to perform a similar function. However, when it came time to switch over and implement Sugar 7, they didn’t want to pay the same licensing fee they had been paying with Google Maps. So W-Systems did some research to find a similar mapping solution that was much more cost effective, while providing all the features that the customer required.
In the end, Keith was able to create a map integration that not only identified current and prospecting accounts, but also included a search bar and zoom in and out capability. All in all, I thought this project was really neat because it not only used a mapping solution to help improve a company’s workflow, but its unique visual approach may also motivate its sales team in the process!
For more information on Keith's project or if you have any additional questions, contact us here.