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Open source ERP systems

  • December 22, 2017 10:23 AM IST

    Businesses with more than a handful of employees have a lot to balance including pricing, product planning, accounting and finance, managing payroll, dealing with inventory, and more. Stitching together a set of disparate tools to handle those jobs is a quick, cheap, and dirty way to get things done.

    That approach isn’t scalable. It’s difficult to efficiently move data between the various pieces of such an ad-hoc system. As well, it can be difficult to maintain.

    Instead, turn to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

    The big guns in that space are Oracle Apps Technical, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics. Their offerings are comprehensive, but also expensive. What happens if your business can’t afford one of those big implementations or if your needs are simple? You turn to the open source alternatives.

    There are a number of flexible, feature-rich, and cost effective open source ERP systems out there. Here is a look at four of them.

    What to look for in an ERP system
    Obviously, you will want a system that suits your needs. Depending on those needs,more features doesn’t always mean better. However, you needs might change as your business grows so you’ll want to find an ERP system that can expand to meet your new needs. That could mean the system has additional modules, or just supports plugins and add-ons.

    Most open source ERP systems are web applications. You can dowload and install them on your server. But if you don’t want to, or don’t have the skills or staff to, maintain a system yourself then make sure there’s a hosted version of the application available.

    Finally, you’ll want to make sure that the application has good documentation and good support—either in the form of paid support or an active user community.

    Odoo
    Odoo is an integrated suite of applications that includes modules for project management, billing, accounting, inventory management, manufacturing, and purchasing. Those modules can communicate with each other to efficiently and seamlessly exchange information.

    While ERP can be complex, Odoo makes it friendlier with a simple, almost spartan interface. The interface is reminiscent of Google Drive, with just the functions you need visible.