As we approach the end of this year it is a good moment to take stock and share a little about the progress being made for Sage CRM 2023 R1. Earlier in November and December, we shared with partners some of our plans for Sage CRM 2023 R1 as part of the Global Partner Advisory Council and the North American Partner Board.
- Sage CRM 2023 R1 will be released at the end of March (end of Q2)
- Sage CRM 2023 R2 will be released at the end of September (end of Q4)
We’ve made the change to put more distance between the release dates and our busiest holiday periods (Christmas / New Year and the summer holidays in July and August). The discussions we had with partners about the roadmap were indicative, and we warned that the actual features introduced would be subject to change. All dates are estimates and some items may be delayed and reprioritised because of business imperatives.
Some of the changes we hope to bring to Sage CRM 2023 R1 were given then as:
- Extend contact & email import introduced in Sage CRM 2022 R2
- Editing merged documents
- REST API Enhancements
- SDK Installer & Advanced Customization Wizard updates, Client-Side API review
- User interface refresh continued
- Accessibility Enhancements and review of Admin Screens and Mobile Theme Update
Extending the contact & email import feature
The first thing to mention is that you might have seen that we posted an advisory that clarifies support for the plugins within the context of Sage CRM 2022 R2 onwards.
The Advisory explains that for customers anxious to remain working with an Outlook Centric approach we will offer limited support for the Outlook plugins if they're already installed when people upgrade. But we are not going to fix anything within the plugins because we want people to move to the new way of working, the Contact and Email Import feature – introduced in Sage CRM 2022 R2. This way of working with emails and contacts is Sage CRM centric. Instead of using an additional plugin installed within the email client, the CRM server connects to the target email server and the user can select contacts and emails from their account that they wish to import into Sage CRM.
See: https://www.sagecity.com/sage-global-solutions/sage-crm/b/sage-crm-hints-tips-and-tricks/posts/sage-crm-2022-r2-ux-improvements---outlook-plugin-replacement---new-email-and-contact-import-feature This new way of working makes use of the Microsoft Graph API and our rest API to bring the email and contact data into CRM.
So where does that leave us with the development cycle for 2023 R1? When we met with the partners in the meetings, I mentioned at the start of the article we had asked for feedback about the new feature. All the points that we captured in those meetings have been queued into the development for Sage CRM.
For Sage CRM 2023 R1 we will be expanding the feature to cover additional entities. Cases and Custom Entities will be able to have the emails filed against them and the emails that are filed will also have a flag to indicate which entities the email has been flagged against. A user will be able to see that an email is associated with a company, an opportunity, a customer service issue etc.
Is this the end for ActiveX and plugins?
We have no intention to create a new add-in or plugin for Outlook. A Sage value that is central to our development strategy is "simplification". We don't want to have any additional installations within CRM. We are aiming to create a single product that is installed, and its features should be run inside CRM.
As part of our design values, we're growing the API. We have placed great importance on our APIs and in particular the REST API. The importance of simplification and the centrality of the REST API was demonstrated when we implemented the change to CTI in Sage CRM 2021 R1. Because there are so many different, Voice Over IP and browser-based telephony solutions, we thought that the best thing to do was not to try and reproduce that and replace our CTI plug-in, but to implement the Click to dial links and make sure that the REST API had all the hooks for developers to use if they were going to design their own telephony integrations.
We had to deal with the long-term issue of what to do with the ActiveX-based technology. We completed the removal of that dependency when we replaced the Outlook plugins with the features introduced in Sage CRM 2022 R2. This makes use of the API provided by Exchange to allow a user to authorize themselves to look up their email accounts, look at their folders, and import the emails that they want and the contacts that they need. There is no additional installation, and this simplifies the support environment for Sage because we won't have to worry about what version of the Plugin a customer is using or the version of Sage CRM or the version of Exchange.
Edit merged documents
You may recall that as part of Sage CRM 2022 R1 we stopped supporting Microsoft Internet Explorer 11. Unfortunately, that meant a Sage CRM feature, “Edit merged documents”, was discontinued because it was enabled by ActiveX and was not available in other browsers. “Edit merged documents” allowed a user to carry out a merge and then download the document, edit it, and re-upload it into CRM. It was a very popular feature, and its loss was painful for customers.
We are very pleased that in Sage CRM 2023 R1 this feature has been reinstated. We now have a mechanism by which any document that has been loaded into the library (e.g. because of a merge), can be downloaded, edited and reuploaded as the same document. This again will allow a user to fine-tune a document. And we've extended it for Sage CRM 2023 R1 so that it doesn't just allow docx or docs that to be edited, but rather any document that is in the library that is capable of editing, so that includes XLS, XLSX, CSV, TXT files and even PDFs. If PDF files can be edited in the context of your client program so they can be updated, changed, and reuploaded into the library.
We are not quite there yet to share screenshots because we're still working through the redesign and standardization of the interface for usability.
Sage CRM 2023 R1 is going to look very different for customers. Sage CRM is going to be completely rebranded. We started this progress with Sage CRM 2022 R2 with some of the minimum changes that were required for all Sage products. Because Sage is committed to CRM as a product for the long term, we need to adopt the Sage design elements to align with the other products with which we integrate, Sage Intacct, Sage 200, Sage 300, and Sage 100 etc.
The new interface has new styling, new icons and quite a lot of changes to prompts and the labelling used. We've done research into ensuring that the labelling is consistent, and we have done some simplification of the interface. We intend to provide select partners early access to a build of Sage CRM 2023 R1 once the new UI design is finalised. This will be before we get to the point where we're beta testing. This early access will allow partners to digest the visual change and what it means for their own products and integrations.