Why there is excitement about open source ERPs?

Posted: October 23, 2012 by Afyanet Africa in Medical News, Product Development (IT)
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Image CIOs at leading public and private sector organizations are  pitching for investment in Open Source ERPs. The question is: Why the switch from proprietary softwares? Tirus Kamau  analyses the CIO’s search for enterprise flexibility and higher value-for money.

Is the amount of money you put in buying and maintaining your enterprise technology  equal to the capability the system provides? If not, what is most competitive alternative that can exceed your enterprise expectations with surprising affordability? For most CIOs exposed to  the two worlds of enterprise resource planning systems(ERPs), that is, the proprietary and Open Source worlds, the answer is everyone’s guess.

In the last ten years, the up take of Open Source Enterprise Resource Planning systems around the globe has grown significantly. Such systems such as A1 ERP, the feature-rich complete web based ERP; OpenERP andOpen Bravo, have continued to win accolades for usefulness, value for money and user friendliness.  In the East African market alone, the use of Open Source ERPs such as the A1 ERP and A1 eXpress for management and planning of Procurement , Finance, Human Resource, Asset Management, CRM, Sales and other enterprise functions has grown an overwhelming  40%, according to independent vendors market statitstics .

Analysts are still not agreed as to what key factors are  contributing to the immense growth in use of the Open Source ERPs,  but one group is a sure winner: CIOs are  celebrating a “value for money technology” that is offering their enterprises a dose of flexibility, innovations and scalability.

The Open Source Community of developers needs no more of the  pat on the back. Renown the world over for ingenous and innovative thinking and advance in programming, Open Source has been the source of most proprietary systems anyway.

But it is the readiness to share codes with clients that is providing the real flexibility enterprises need. Developers such as Alliance Technologies are helping information technology in enterprises pass on from developers to the officers employed in the user organizations mold and fit in any business process  application and scaled to accommodate a myriad of feature requests that are in most cases call for unique individual or businesses experiences. Most proprieatary systems won’t do that: they will ship in expatriates and charge hefty for any modifications beyond the usual vendor customizations.

When skill and code transfer to client organizations  happen, the information officers and other IT professional are empowered to adapt the ERP system further as they wish- develop new applications and enjoin them. Empower to make powerful.

To effectively harness the power of open source, you need an engineering team and  experienced business advisory group that understands the nuts-and-bolts  of your business to work together.  The A1 ERP team for instance has  implemented multiple  highly sophisticated ERP systems in layered enterprises successfully due to this blend. There are four critical stages within the Open Source ERP Life Cycle Strategy Roll Out that one needs to pay key attention to:

o    Strategic Planning Stage

o    Solution Adoption

o    Maintenance & Upgrade

o    Integration & Optimization

These stages are usually divided in two phases: Phase One involves the process of product selection, requirements planning and initial adoption, covered in Milestones 1 and 2.

Phase Two deals with the process of maintaining and enhancing the solution as the company moves forward after its system roll out has taken place. You get the above two phases right and you will be in the right path to unleashing the Power of an ERP

In this market it’s interesting to note that government bodies who have a higher spending capacity and are more demanding than their private counterparts have already shifted to the powerful advantages  of Open Source. Security of Open Source solution has been a key concern to all those targeting its use. CIO’s need not worry as with a good proffessional implemetation team Open source Application have all the security features that established propriatory ERP’s such as SAP and Oracle would offer. This was one key factor the US military considered in recommeding use of Open Source applications by its units.

Technocrats are advising more parastatals with national reach to opt for Open Source sytems, because these enterprise solutions can flexibly be customized and molded to fit specific operations without much added cost.

In the private sector, Ushahidi,  a non-profit tech company is developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. The world has taken note on the immense potential of their professionally managed open source projects.

This should deliver a strong message for  CIOs. In choosing an ERP solution for your  enterprise, check what the Open Source community has to offer, first. It will save your organization lots of  time and money.


KAMAU TIRUS:  Is the Head of Product Development & Innovation at Alliance Technologies and is responsible for driving and providing Leadership for Research & Development (R&D) activities at the leading Open Source Software Engineering firm in the region. EMAIL: wtirus@gmail.com


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