I took a look at SugarCRM in a fair amount of detail. It is pretty clear that the data model will not really work for us since the core data structures don't map well to our three core entities-- contacts, households, and organizations.
It is a LAMP product that basically does what we need it to do. We would "just" change the data model and the UI labels (forgive the non-coder from minimizing developer effort .
How realistic is it to get a head start on our code by liberally borrowing from the SugarCRM effort? (http://sourceforge.net/projects/sugarcrm)
NOTE: this would move the license from GPL to Mozilla, not a huge step in the worng direction, but a consideration. There is some question whether a rewrite of Sugar would even qualify as a derrived work, therefore we can release GPL. And finally, all one has to do is get permission from Sugar, and we could GPL our derrived work. Any lawyers out there?