Welcome to Business-Software.com’s latest addition to the blog, a weekly series called From the Community where we highlight questions from our community members. Join us each Friday as we dive into the featured inquiry.
Today’s question is about the software beast, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). In his question Tony S asks: “Are there any worthy open source ERP options?”
As Tony alludes to in his question, there are many open source ERPs floating in the websphere today. Some no longer have significant ongoing development, others require extensive programming knowledge to implement. But putting those aside, which ERP software solutions will work “out of the box” and serve as a fantastic asset to a SMB or startup?
Open source simply means that the solution’s source code is made freely available to developers and potential customers. Unlike a closed source solution, open source gives power to the people. Anybody can freely use the source code to build out and customize a solution to meet any specific requirements he might need. And the solution isn’t made for only developers. A top open source ERP with an established community built around it typically allows customers to use community modules without technical knowledge of their own.
However, there are challenges that come with open source ERP as well. In order to thrive as an open source solution, software needs to have robust, clean and easy-to-navigate source code in addition to a thriving, enthusiastic development community to help the product reach its full potential. These commodities are not easy to come by because they require many customers and partners who believe in and trust the product.
For an open source ERP to work, it must have nothing to hide. If a solution has bugs and sloppy source code, the world knows. Ned Lilly, CEO of xTuple explains the essence of open source in an interview with Business-Software.com, referring to his own open source ERP:
[Our customers love xTuple] not just because you can download it for free, or that you can get in there and mess with the source code itself. That kinds of pervades everything about us as a company, our product, and community of users. Our source code is out there, our bug tracker is public on the website, and we list our pricing on the website for the commercial editions of the software. The common thread through all that is transparency and openness.
The key trait to a “worthy” open source ERP is honesty. The ERP must win the trust of not only you the user, but a whole community. Since reaching this level of trust is difficult, searching for an open source ERP can feel like browsing an ERP graveyard of failed, failing, or simply bad solutions. Yet even amidst all of the mess there are more than a few thriving solutions. Let’s explore a couple.
You may have seen this one coming. xTuple is certainly an example of a solution that takes pride in transparency, honesty and a thriving community. The solution is a free open source ERP solution and includes out-of-the-box modules like accounting, sales, CRM, purchasing, inventory, distribution and even some manufacturing tools. The solution runs on all popular operating systems and is mobile-capable. xTuple has been translated into 27 different languages and localized by more than 15,000 companies (with over a million downloads) around the world. xTuple comes with a vast array of modules out of the box with the belief that accounting is accounting. If all accounting solutions do the same thing, why pay?
OpenERP is an easy-to-use and free open source solution. It lines up a buffet table of more than 200 modules at the front page, and that’s merely what the company itself includes. If you meander to the OpenERP app store, you can browse up to 3,000 community modules. You can load your buffet plate with anything you want: CRM, point of sale, project management, warehouse management, manufacturing, human resources, accounting… anything. And they are all integrated and working seamlessly on the same platform. OpenERP has an entire database of development partners organized by dozens of countries — and that community only grows. OpenERP is a great solution for those who truly want to feel like they are building their own ERP.
So are there any worthy open source ERP solutions? Yes. They are all around you, but fighting for attention among the floods of sub-par solutions. Finding the best solution for your business is difficult when searching alone, but that’s the reason businesses like Business-Software.com exist — to sort the wheat from the chaff and help you become aware of the truly remarkable solutions that is bringing innovation and efficient business practices to companies everywhere.
Review your ERP options by browsing our side-by-side product comparisons in our top ERP software reports. You can also check out additional content on open-source ERP and other popular ERP topics by visiting our ERP resource center page.
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