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Understanding SugarBPM Processes vs. Legacy Workflows


Sugar's workflow functionality has long allowed administrators to configure automatic responses to the data entered into Sugar®. While workflows are powerful and convenient, their ability to automate advanced, multi-step business processes is limited. To provide additional business-process functionality, SugarBPM™ is available for all Sugar products. This article describes some of the similarities and differences between SugarBPM processes and Sugar's legacy workflow offering.

Both workflow tools enable administrators to streamline common and often complex business processes by managing sales processes, call triaging, and more. Most simply stated, SugarBPM processes are more complex, robust, and, ultimately, more difficult to master than the legacy Workflows module, as illustrated by the comparison table on this page. Complete information about using each tool can be found in the SugarBPM and Workflow Management (legacy) documentation.

Note: The SugarBPM features described in this article pertain to the latest Sugar release. If you are not using the latest release, some functionality may not yet be available for your version.

Conflict Resolution

Legacy workflows and SugarBPM processes may co-exist in your instance. If a situation arises where a legacy workflow and a SugarBPM process definition are triggered by the same criteria for new records, the change caused by the workflow will apply. To avoid this conflict and related confusion, we recommend using one tool or the other. In situations where you must use both, please ensure that you do not create a Sugar workflow and a SugarBPM process definition for the same target module using the same criteria.

Is SugarBPM Right for You?

If any of the following statements apply to you, SugarBPM will be most suited to your needs:

  • Your organization typically requires approval or sign-off for regular business activities.
  • You need to comply with an industry standard that is based on the BPMN specification for business processes.
  • You need to measure the time it takes for employees to complete certain processes.
  • You need to manage complex assignment, team, or territory structures.

Even if the previous statements do not apply to you directly, you may benefit from the structure that SugarBPM can provide for achieving the following organizational goals:

  • Improve management coordination and organizational responsiveness through the use of notifications and approval forms.
  • Improve the management of your CRM software by implementing a rules-based system. 
  • Reduce cultural resistance to process change by leveraging a system that makes compliance easy and virtually invisible.
  • Improve customer satisfaction by streamlining your customer-facing business activities.

Comparison Table

The following table serves to illustrate some of the most impactful differences between SugarBPM and Sugar's legacy workflow offering.

Feature SugarBPM™ Workflow (legacy)
Availability All Sugar products All Sugar products 1
Defining your business process SugarBPM makes building business processes simple with a graphical drag-and-drop interface. A benefit of this user interface is seeing the flow of your process develop and anticipating where the process should lead. Sugar's legacy workflow offering utilizes the legacy Sugar UI. This is a less-elegant user experience but can be easily mastered by an admin.
Incorporating user decisions One of the most unique benefits of SugarBPM is that it allows human interaction in the form of decision making. A business process will often require approval or other evaluation by a team member. Using processes, Sugar can prompt the appropriate user to make that decision (i.e. approve it or reject it). The Workflows module is a powerful engine that can respond based on the values of fields in Sugar, but it is fully automated and independent of the critical human ability to evaluate subjective data such as notes or threaded communication.
Multi-step, branched workflows Processes can be an ongoing and adaptive series of actions, interactions, and events. It is possible to define a different outcome for various conditions or allow parallel activities to occur within a single process. A process could continue executing for days, weeks, or in some cases, indefinitely. Sugar's Workflow module offers a straightforward path to perform one-and-done system actions. A workflow action is completed almost instantaneously.
Compound operators SugarBPM provides the opportunity to utilize logic operators like "AND", "OR", and "NOT" in conjunction with field-value and user conditions to specify criteria for an event. Mathematical operations like addition and subtraction can be used for number fields or to create a date that is relative to another date. Workflows excel at simple "if-this-then-that" scenarios.
Calculating time-to-complete SugarBPM measures the entire process from beginning to end and also calculates the amount of time that each step took in between. Process actions can also be set to occur after a period of time elapses or can even pause for a duration of time or until a certain fixed date is met.  Workflows can be set to occur after a certain period of time elapses.
Visual modeling standard SugarBPM allows you to design processes and workflows within BPMN modeling specifications, a method of illustrating business processes in the form of a diagram similar to a flowchart.  The legacy Workflows module does not adhere to a recognized visual modeling standard.
Re-executing, re-assigning, and canceling workflow processes From the Process Management page, an administrator can see all running, canceled, and completed processes. The admin can also monitor process status, reassign or cancel an in-progress process, or repair processes in an error state. The Process Management page is accessible via Admin > SugarBPM or via the Processes module tab by selecting "Process Management". Once a workflow action begins, it cannot be stopped.
Creating reusable business rules If some users always handle certain categories of business, Sugar administrators can create process business rules to enforce the record-assignment policy. When the administrator wants to automate their business processes, they can embed that business rule in one or all of the process definitions.

If a user eventually leaves the company, only the process business rule will need to be edited to affect all related process definitions and their running processes.
There is no business-rule equivalent for workflows. They must be created and managed individually.

1 Starting with 12.0, some legacy capabilities were reenabled for Enterprise, Sell, and Serve customers. Customers using earlier versions of these products may not see full legacy workflow functionality.