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Open Source: The New ERP Frontier?

Has enterprise resource planning (ERP) software become too rigid?  Many experts believe it has, with its lack of innovation and limited ability to truly conform to the unique operations and processes of its users. And so, open source ERP was born. 

The flood of recent industry consolidation has taken a tremendous amount of competitive “heat” off of the top tier ERP providers.  As a result, they haven’t been feeling much pressure to significantly enhance their offerings.  But open source ERP software is changing all that, providing customers with a new option that delivers increased flexibility. 

Open source software exposes the underlying code, and makes it readily available to customers.  This allows their own internal IT teams to alter the software to meet very unique and specific needs. 

The approach makes sense.  Few ERP systems in production today are the result of “vanilla” implementations, and often required some level of customization at the outset.  But, open source ERP takes this one step further, allowing customization to be an ongoing process that gives organizations the agility to instantly tailor their solutions at any time, as market conditions change and their businesses evolve.  

There are about a dozen or so vendors in the open source ERP space so far, including Compiere, Openbravo, Xtuple, and TinyERP.  And, these companies have already managed to engage a large community of developers, sparking collaboration among business users and technology professionals alike. 

Will open source ERP reshape the industry?  Some say yes, that the open source providers will snag a significant amount of market share away from the traditional vendors in the coming years.  Others believe that while open source will make its mark, it will likely be as a compliment to traditional ERP systems, not in replacement of them.  Exactly where the future of open source ERP leads remains to be seen, but for now, its here to stay. 

[Photo courtesy of chronobank.]