December 12, 2013
Endocode is committed to the use of free/open source software (FOSS) to provide high-quality, enterprise-level solutions. We really mean that! That’s why, when one of our customers approached us seeking a better way for software to support their business, we didn’t hesitate to recommend them an open source Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System.
We want to share with you a little about what we know regarding ERP systems and why they’re essential to business management. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a manufacturer, a services company, a retailer or whatever; just about every business has to manage groups of people who are channeling resources through various processes. Whether or not you manage them efficiently can mean the difference between your business sinking or swimming.
So, what’s an ERP system?
An ERP system is a software application that allows you to store and manage information relating to every area of your business. ERP systems are typically quite large and offer a comprehensive set of functionality, with each of them offering at the very least:
- Product management
- Order processing (from enquiries through to quotes and then finally accepted orders)
- Manufacturing control
- Inventory management
- Task tracking/Project management
- Customer relations management
- Human resources
Used properly, an ERP system will allow you carry out your business activities much more efficiently.
How will an ERP system boost my business?
A good ERP system offers several key benefits. But, for us, there are two killer reasons for choosing an ERP system…
It’s ready to go out-of-the-box
Software can take a lot of time and money to produce, particularly something as large and complex as an ERP system. It’s simply not feasible for most companies to produce their own application that comprehensively manages all aspects of their business. But that doesn’t they have to go without one!
ERP systems come with ready-made functionality. After some initial configuration, you can immediately start creating profiles for your customers, entering new orders, processing payments and so on. Of course, the in-built processes might not perfectly match the way you do things, but even that isn’t necessarily a problem (as you’ll read later).
The second killer reason is the integration. An ERP system may have several sections for disparate areas of your organization, but they all share the same database. That means data can be entered in one place and used in another, allowing the information to flow logically and automatically through the system. For example, an order could be entered into the Order Processing module, attached to a specific customer record (in the Contact Management module) and then the appropriate deductions made from the company inventory (maintained in the Inventory module). The revenues from that order are automatically tracked by the Accounting module.
This is the awesome power of integration. All activities are managed in one place, available to every employee and under your control.
Customization – The critical advantage of open source
As already mentioned, while an ERP system gives you lots of features out of the box, it probably won’t match your requirements 100%. With proprietary software, you have to arrange some sort of agreement with the original vendor for them to make customizations – assuming they’re still in business and provide that kind of service in the first place.
There is another choice: you can use an open source ERP system. With open source you don’t only get the executable software, you get all the source code too. If you have the ability, you can make any needed changes to the software yourself. Otherwise, like our clients did, you can shop around for a software developer who will make the changes for you. In the next part of this post, we’ll tell you all about the ERP system we supplied and about the extensive customizations we made.