Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Quarterly Update

Opentaps Now Supports Hibernate

We made a very significant and fundamental enhancements: opentaps now supports hibernate as well as the original ofbiz entity engine. You can use the two interchangeably to store and retrieve data, but the addition of hibernate also gives us a more flexible query language, data validation, search, and distributed database capabilities. We think this will open up a lot of new opportunities for opentaps down the road.

Asterisk VOIP PBX Also Integrated

Another important enhancement is the integration of opentaps with the asterisk open source voice over IP (VOIP) PBX. You can now use it with opentaps CRM, purchasing, and other applications for inbound and outbound calls.

Enhanced Manufacturing and Inventory Planning

The inventory and manufacturing planning capabilities of opentaps, one of our traditional areas of strength, were enhanced with several new features, including:
  • Support for routing specific Bills Of Material (BOMs)
  • Minimum and maximum quantities for manufacturing routings in Material Resources Planning (MRP)
  • Ability to edit and consolidate manufacturing and purchasing requirements
  • Trace the source and usage of inventory items through their entire lifecycle
  • Allow orders to be reserved in and shipped from multiple warehouses

An Easier Way to Segment Financial Data

Many organizations would like to be able to segment their financial results, and we introduced a new accounting tags feature which allows you to add up to 10 tags to all your invoices, payments, and general ledger transactions. For example, you can tag your transactions by division, department, activity, and cost center, and then see standard financial reports such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the different combinations of tags.

More Automated Testing Resources

We now have over 350 automated tests for the opentaps development trunk, which are run on both MySQL and PostgreSQL daily. We have also integrated the Selenium and Fitnesse testing frameworks into opentaps, so that we can add more automated front end testing as well.

The World of Opentaps

It's been almost 3 years since we unveiled opentaps at the MySQL Users' Conference in Santa Clara. Since that time, opentaps has grown both in capabilities and in its community. Last month, I used google map to make a map of where some of the organizations which use or provide services for opentaps are located, and the result is this map -- the World of Opentaps:

Take a look -- there's probably somebody near you!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The High Cost of ERP and the open source alternative

CFO research published a white paper last month about the high cost of ERP, and the results were pretty astounding: ERP software is even more expensive than most people thought!  In their survey, over 80% of the companies had customized their ERP systems, and the annual cost of making those customizations can be nearly twice the amount of annual maintenance and support fees.  This is because most commercial ERP systems are very difficult to change.  Even minor modifications took on average 7 person-days to make.

As a result of this high cost of customizing ERP software, many CFO's are giving up completely on customizations and instead, as one finance director said, "... will modify the business process if necessary or create an offline procedure" instead of making customizations.  In other words, either they will run their business as their ERP vendor tells them, or they won't use the ERP system at all and go back to the "offline procedures" of custom spreadsheets, stacks of paper, and whatever else our grandparents used, before computers became popular. 

Allow me to point out the obvious: customizations are inevitable, because each business is unique, and also because the business environment changes.  If your ERP software cannot accommodate that, then it's simply the wrong solution.  Adapting to it is not following "best practices" -- it's more like putting yourself into a straitjacket.

Forunately, open source ERP solutions, such as our opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM, are fundamentally easier to customize because of the following reasons:
  1. You have access to the source code, so instead of having to follow painful vendor workarounds, you can modify the source code to fit your needs.
  2. opentaps is newer than most of the commercial ERP software and architected for change: it is more modular,  more object-oriented with our new domain driven architecture, and supported by a large body of automated tests.
  3. opentaps is designed for a wider audience, and hence intended to be customized to fit a much larger range of uses.  Take a look at the world of opentaps, and you'll see how organizations all around the world have tailored opentaps to their needs.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The World of Opentaps

I finally figured out how to use Google Maps and made this map of where some of the different users and service providers of opentaps are located:

There are probably quite a few that I've missed, but this should give you the general idea. My how we've grown!

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