With business growth, many companies, sooner or later, face the necessity of implementing an ERP system. If a small business can still do without this tool, medium-sized companies are actively using these software solutions to increase their revenue and seize new opportunities. In this article, you will learn more about open source ERP Java.
What is ERP software? Why do companies need resource planning software?
The term ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a purely marketing concept. Its definition includes some functions that a specific system provides, namely:
- Integration of tasks and databases for all departments
- Convenient company resources management
- Due to optimized accounting, better management of finance flow, and reduced time for reports preparation
- Optimization of access to company data, automation of document flow
- Transparent and organized budgeting at all stages
- Effective planning of working hours of employees on-premises and remotely
- Focus on the continuous balancing of the enterprise, and much more
The main task of an ERP system is to avoid downtime, delays, and errors.
ERP systems can be open source and closed source. Their differences are that a closed system belongs only to you, it costs a lot of money, and its maintenance requires a staff of developers and administrators. Also, implementing such a system will take quite a lot of time and bears the risks of incorrect transfer of databases and loss of information.
An alternative to a closed system is open source ERP software Java. In this case, you do not need staff to maintain the system and connect specific modules because there are specialists who will customize the system for your particular profile. You also save time and money on purchasing and implementing the system. Optionally, you can opt for connecting or disconnecting specific modules, which will only make the work more efficient. Plus, you get 24/7 technical support.
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What ERP modules should your platform have?
Regardless of the developers, almost all ERP systems have a common architecture:
- The platform is the environment and basic capabilities for components and modules to work. Only the developer can make changes to the platform code.
- Unified database (DB). This category includes data stored on a server, tools for processing incoming data, and redirecting them to software modules.
- The modules themselves, which can be connected to the platform as needed. All of them use basic functionality and work with a single database. This modular system is very convenient and is the main distinguishing feature of ERP systems.
Since most businesses these days rely on some ERP system, the market is thriving. Today, we will look at the most popular systems for enterprise resource planning project in Java.
How to Choose ERP Accounting Software? Read in our latest article!
7 tips on selecting the right ERP
Getting the most individually suitable ERP software is a matter of thoroughly “testing the waters”. It means you need to know for sure what you are looking to implement within your corporate infrastructure. Here are some recommendations to make your life easier.
#1. Ask for the top management’s opinion
Your company’s upper management employees are aware of the essential workflow cornerstones from practice. Top managers can tell you where the in-house performance is more time-consuming and usually stumbles due to the lack of resources. With the main points of workflow focus in hand, it will be much easier to pick the right system.
#2. Analyze existing workflow thoroughly
What exactly do you need to boost or optimize or digitize in your corporate workflow? A thorough analysis of key business metrics and reports should help you figure this out. For instance, your ultimate resourcing and hiring profitability may require a minor convenience boost or a major custom approach (which means extra features, hence a more complex system).
Ignoring such analysis and going with vague statements is likely to result in adopting a system that lacks the needed functionality or has excessive features that you still must pay for.
#3. Requirements are everything
An extensive, clear list of requirements is essential to be composed beforehand. That’s what should set off your search for ERP vendors in the first place. Don’t start looking for a provider with the loudest promises and best ads. Consider options based on the particular items you require – the most suitable vendor will fit most on every item you have on your list.
#4. Ask for references
Once you have a list of vendors to potentially employ, ask them for a couple of client references. You can ask the real clients for valuable feedback on the ups and downs they experienced when using the services of your potential vendor and get the overall first-hand image of who you are to employ.
#5. Consider future customizations
It’s essential to analyze how much of an individual approach you will require with the ERP integration in the long run. The more customizations there are to be implemented, the higher implementation costs you should expect. Thus, the level of individual system adjustment defines your ERP integration budget. Logically, you can cut costs by employing a readymade solution where all the out-of-the-box features and tools satisfy your needs.
#6. Have “one of your own” to manage ERP
If you have an opportunity not to rely on the ERP vendor’s appointed manager only, go for it. It’s always good to have an in-house specialist handling a new integration and passing first-hand insights to you and your crew along the process. For this position, you should appoint someone comfortable and savvy at software systems management. This will be the person to study the new system and pass on summarized knowledge to the rest of the staff.
#7. Keep mobile in mind
For modern users of any software, remote access is a must — your company employees aren’t an exception. Not only that, desktop-only use of corporate software limits the overall accessibility of your ERP system. Make sure that the future integrated ERP solution can be conveniently accessed via mobile devices so that the employees can use it any time they see fit outside of the office to make some timely minor changes or dive into metrics analysis in their free time.
The ways of getting a free ERP
Currently, there are numerous options to get an ERP for free. What defines explicitly a free ERP solution, though? Most of such systems usually offer a trimmed-down functionality of full-on expensive Pro/Enterprise/Expert software editions.
However, they boast all the basic capabilities of detailed data visualization and report generation. Depending on your concrete goals and needs, a free solution may as well be quite enough for corporate use. It is also great for evaluating this type of software if you are looking to implement ERP for the first time.
As for the ultimate choice of a particular system, you can use the above tips to wisely pick both paid and free-of-charge system.
Features of open source software
The main gist of open-source ERP software is its ultimate customizability. Due to the freely accessible nature of code, it’s relatively easy to readjust and edit the basic functionality of such systems and tailor them to individual business needs. Thus, the open-source foundation makes an ERP system:
- Cheaper. There is no need to pay for the software license fee that enables program code access.
- Easily scalable. Skilled programmers can readily dive into a highly-available code that’s been structured and perfected by real professionals.
- Great for evaluation. You can get a cost-efficient open-source system to see how well it fits your needs as a whole and go for accessible customizations if need be.
Top 5 open source ERP systems
Right off the bat, here’s a well-scalable ERP solution optimized for use in small- and medium-scale businesses. There are several versions dedicated to specific industries, including Postbooks, Manufacturing, Distribution, and Enterprise. Every edition features core software modules:
- Inventory management
- Finance, sales, and supplier management
- CRM functionality
- Manufacturing and distribution tools
Postbooks is the most basic version, while all other editions also feature a more extensive functionality, with profiled modules and training tools. For some extra costs, phone and online support, transaction questions handling, and express assistance can be purchased as well.
This is an open source system with features such as:
- Staff management
- Project and inventory management
- Ready CRM panel
ERPNext is suitable for businesses of all sizes and available in both cloud and on-premises formats. Users of this system note the wide customization options that can be implemented in a short time. Its primary disadvantage is the lack of integration with banking systems. The software will be suitable for printing offices, health and fitness companies, and information technology industries.
This free ERP system provides:
- CRM panel
- HR and document flow
- Inventory management
- Project management
- Marketing automation
The software is available in both cloud and on-premises formats. Odoo is highly customizable and easy to use. Users especially like the ability to manage workloads and projects, especially time management. It is most often used in retail and telecommunications.
Focused on Java clients, this software can be easily integrated with other systems without affecting the company’s work. When a problem arises, the developers quickly solve all the issues thanks to a huge community worldwide. The solution is open to public release under a free license. The company offers development and technical support at affordable prices.
This is a powerful multi-channel retail management software company headquartered in Spain. This system allows you to organize stocks in different places and see their availability. Using Openbravo, you can manage all retail functions in one place. It provides the following features:
- Supply chain management
- Sales and promotion management
- Business analytics
This software shows high performance regardless of the size of the business.
All the above ERP systems can perform basic business operations: supply chain management (including inventory, purchasing, warehousing, logistics, etc.), finance, marketing, and sales. Most of the above systems tend to include CRM functionality.
How to choose a Java ERP system
Even implementing a free, open source ERP will take a long time and can be a headache. To avoid unnecessary waste of time, you need to answer some questions:
- Find out what you expect from the system itself and in which areas you need optimization the most. When assessing compliance with ERP requirements, pay attention to the main functions integrated into the quoted price and those that can be added as your company grows.
- Choose an intuitive and easy-to-use ERP system.
- After you’ve gone through the sales demo of an ERP software system that promises all the features you need, check if you can switch between different areas. Ease of use should be a major factor in your ERP evaluation checklist. If you find it challenging to use this software, — likely, other users of the system will also find it difficult.
- Ask for a warranty. Some vendors offer a 30- or 60-day guarantee, which is barely enough for the installation. Insist on at least a one-year guarantee.
- Invest in training and consulting. The sooner users of your system start using its features to the fullest, the faster you will get a return on investment. That is why you need to make sure that everyone on your team clearly understands how the software works.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. ERP systems are simple in theory but often complex in practice. Ask questions if you are not sure you understand some of the features or capabilities.
- Always pay attention to the reviews and ratings on a particular system. This is old school, but it is the reviews that will help you understand which system is best to implement in your business.
How not to fail ERP implementation?
ERP implementation in the existing business workflow is a serious effort that should be well prepared for and managed. Otherwise, you may risk overpaying for unnecessary functionality, getting a solution that doesn’t meet the required scope of tasks, and so on. All pitfalls can be avoided if you:
- Clearly define goals and needs regarding the future ERP system
- Have in-house production and performance specifics well figured out
- Make sure you have sufficient expertise in your team to manage the software
- Have somebody on your side to assign as an ERP manager for better control
- Can afford further customizations in case you’ll need individual adjustments
How to choose a technology partner?
On top of the above, not the least volume of responsibility falls on your ERP implementation partner’s shoulders. It’s crucial that the software service provider you pick is savvy and experienced enough in doing what you need them to do – properly adopt an ERP system to your business workflow. Make your choice only in favor of providers that possess:
- Technical expertise and experience. Your tech partner should 100% know all the ins and outs of software implementation – methods, models, tools, approaches, and so on. References, case studies, and certificates can help you point out the most trustworthy candidates.
- Niche expertise and experience. On top of the essential software specifics knowledge, a reliable partner should be knowledgeable in the industry you operate to help you deliver the most individually efficient results.
What about the cost?
Paid ERP licenses vary a lot in the underlying costs. Thus, some solutions, like xTuple and ERPNext, have monthly tariffs ranging from $20 to $150 per user, depending on the software package. Then, one-time licenses can easily cost from $1,000 to $5,000 and more depending on the software suite but may come out more profitable than smaller yet ongoing payments.
All in all, implementing an ERP can be quite a cost-efficient, affordable affair for a small or mid-sized company. Larger, more complex enterprises that require more features and functionality per user as a whole may need to invest up to $10,000 for a study, well-supported system. Which they usually can afford in the long run, especially considering all the benefits they get.
When choosing the ERP system that best suits your business needs, be sure to pay attention to such features as security, scalability, backup options, the quality of customer service, the frequency of program updates, and availability settings (supported devices, operating systems). While this has no relation to the core functionality, it can affect your experience with the software of your choice.
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