Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP) is a suite of applications that manage the wide range of business processes at an organization. An ERP system is a large investment of time and money that ultimately keeps your business up and running. Therefore, committing to a software vendor can feel like a leap of faith, relinquishment of control or even a financial impossibility. Or maybe a pre-packaged solution just feels too confining for your unique, growing business. If these scenarios sound familiar, we invite you to consider an alternative: open source ERP.
We’re hoping to help you do just that — in this article, we’ll explain what an open source ERP is, weigh the pros and cons and list the top five best solutions on the market right now.
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What is Open Source ERP?
The control and freedom of choice are what sets open source ERP apart from proprietary software. Additionally, a proprietary software vendor almost never releases the source code, so users need to coordinate with and pay their vendor to generate custom features.
Another differentiator is the cost of ownership: open source ERP is publicly available, or in other words, free! Users are able to access the source code without paying for licensing. However, some established open source vendors offer paid subscriptions that include services such as hosting, support and additional functionality. We’ll get more into that later.
All of these characteristics make open source ERP software a great option for growing businesses with limited resources. With infinite flexibility, users are able to change or add on functionality or users at anytime. For businesses that have unique requirements, or desire a personalized or industry-specific solution, the customization capabilities of an open source ERP are very advantageous.
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Pros and Cons of Open Source ERP Software
Open source ERP – a publicly available, free and customizable software – sounds like a dream. While it certainly does have many advantages, it comes with downsides, too. Below, we’re going to list and explain the pros and cons of open source ERP software.
As we mentioned above, there are no licensing fees required to download the source code. Therefore, if you self-host your open source ERP system with no vendor support, it’s free of cost. For those who don’t want to fully manage their own system, you can find a vendor that offers a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. They’re typically billed monthly, and pricing will depend on what services you select and how many users you have.
When gathering your requirements for ERP software, it’s important to consider what your business will look like in the future. That’s because adding features or users later down the road often requires expensive re-implementations. However, with the scalability of an open source system, a growing business has the flexibility to make changes to their ERP system as needed.
Authority Over Customization
The direct access to source code allows users to be the sole authority over their system customizations. With this control, users can reach a whole new level of personalization.
Access to Community Support
Many open source platforms are supported by vibrant user communities – the support is experimental and transparent. For IT professionals who love to be immersed in this environment, open source can be a good solution. These communities are known to quickly tackle system bugs, share their pre-built customizations or modules and more.
Independence from Vendors
From infinite flexibility to endless opportunities for innovation, independence from vendors can open many doors for software users. Think about it: open source software users are always able to conduct business on their own terms, and on their own schedule.