Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Oracle or SAP? How about.. neither? Go Open Source for your ERP

Seems like there are two major contenders for an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Oracle and SAP. However, there are a number of flexible, feature-rich, and cost-effective open source ERP systems available, as well.

Over at Forbes, we read:

How Do The Core Businesses For Oracle And SAP Compare? Oracle provides products and services that address enterprise information technology environments. The products and services include applications and infrastructure offerings that are delivered worldwide through a variety of flexible and interoperable IT deployment models. These models include on-premise deployments, cloud-based deployments, and hybrid deployments (an approach that combines both on-premise and cloud-based deployment).       Oracle’s geographical revenue mix is strong with 55% coming from the Americas, 29% from EMEA countries (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and the rest from Asia-Pacific.
   SAP is a multinational software corporation that develops and delivers software, services, and support that address business needs. The company offers a wide range of enterprise resource planning applications which includes customer relationship management, human capital management, financial management, product life-cycle management, and supply chain management. The company also has a foray in business intelligence with SAP BusinessObjects. SAP’s geographical revenue mix is also strong with 44% coming from EMEA countries (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), 40% from the Americas, and rest from Asia-Pacific.

Depending on the organization's needs, more features doesn't always mean better. Further needs may evolve as the business grows, so search for an ERP system that can expand. That could mean the system has additional modules or supports plugins and add-ons.

Most open source ERP systems are web applications that can be downloaded and installed on a server or with a VM image. But if lacking the skills or staff to maintain a system, look for a hosted version of the application. Choose an application that has good documentation and good support, which may be either paid support or an active user community. Some include:

ERPNext is a classic open source projects, featured on Opensource.com in 2014. It was designed to address a particular need, replacing a creaky and expensive proprietary ERP implementations. It includes modules for accounting, managing inventory, sales, purchase, and project management. The applications that make up ERPNext are form-driven—you fill information in a set of fields and let the application do the rest. The whole suite is easy to use.

pache OFBiz's suite of related business tools is built on a common architecture that enables organizations to customize the ERP to their needs. As a result, it's best suited for midsize or large enterprises that have the internal development resources to adapt and integrate it within their existing IT and business processes.

OFBiz is a mature open source ERP system; its website says it's been a top-level Apache project for a decade. Modules are available for accounting, manufacturing, HR, inventory management, catalog management, CRM, and e-commerce. You can also demo out its e-commerce web store and backend.

Odoo is an integrated suite of ERP applications: project management, billing, accounting, inventory management, manufacturing, and purchasing. Those modules can communicate with each other to efficiently and seamlessly exchange information. Odoo provides a friendly, almost spartan, interface. Odoo is a web app, with subscriptions to individual modules, or download the source code from GitHub. It's licensed under LGPLv3.

Solving complicated supply chain or financial management problems for a business doesn’t mean buying a big-money ERP system. While vendors like Oracle and SAP may dominate the market, there are free and open source solutions that can help get an organization digital with little investment.

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