There is a general notion that ERP systems (enterprise resource planning) are overly complex, very costly to implement and maintain. For small, medium enterprises or businesses (SMEs/SMBs) this is deterrent enough to keep away. This is where open source ERP is increasingly becoming more popular.
So what exactly is open source ERP? First we need to understand what is meant by the term open source. Taking a definition right from the "sources" mouth (boom boom); it refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. For open source ERP this allows developers to gain access to their source code and create, improve or enhance the software. Wikipedia is arguably the best example of an open source concept.
So what does this mean for SMEs/SMBs? Quite a lot and it's predominantly good.
- ERP software is now within reach of all businesses with a number of products selling subscription based services (usually out of the box functionality).
- Fixes and new versions can be delivered faster and more frequently with communities of developers.
- The ability to customize the software to cater for specific business requirements.
- More integration options with any existing software.
- Rapid deployment model with the flexibility to activate modules as and when the business needs it.
- Not being locked-in to one vendor.
- Reduce the risk of being stuck with a product that won't be supported in the long run.
Open source ERP isn't for every business (yet) as she hasn't been around as long as her older brother proprietary ERP. The behemoths of ERP still dominate the MNC market having spent decades building their ERP software to meet the complexities of the corporate world. The gap is closing and closing rapidly though and within the next 3-5 years we could see a big shift in popularity. Who knows...