All posts by Raphael Bauduin

Open Source ERP, a growing market

Today’s Open Source software maturity is confirmed by its offering of ERP software. Not only do Open Source ERP solutions bring solid and broad features sets, they do so at a lower cost of implementation as mentioned at a Business Meets IT seminar in Belgium today.

ERPERP by xcode

Interviews from speakers at the formerly mentioned ERP event organised by Profoss on 18 November and 2 December show however this is still is a market to take. If most ERP project have regular contacts (the only apparent exception being the absence of contacts between Adempiere and Compiere), those contacts are not due to competition. Competition for Free and Open Source ERP software is found in the big companies like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM. Demand for OpenERP is so big, that it’s sometimes hard for them to follow the demand.

The origin of the ERP solutions covered are multiple: a local initiative for OpenERP, development in the academic world for Openbravo, a fork from another project (Compiere) for Adempiere. These different development paths show the diversity of ways to create Free and Open Source Software. OpenERP and Openbravo development are backed by a company, whereas Adempiere has taken the collaborative approach, where all companies or individuals interested are able to contribute easily according to a process put in place.

Companies or organisations targeted vary in size and market and in the end cover most of the spectrum of the market: from wholesale to public administrations, from 10 to 2000 users. If two years ago OpenERP had a lot of request from SMBs, today they get a lot more request from bigger companies.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Open Source Conference: Profoss Open Source ERP events

ERP software is at the core of a business’ operations, from stock management to accounting, from efficiency measurement to activity planning.

Few other applications could be more crucial to a company’s continued operations. So it’s not a surprise that ERP is the subject of a Profoss event. It fits perfectly Profoss‘ goal to inform professional ICT people of the possibility to use Free and Open Source Software in the most critical operations of a company.

ERPERP by xcode

And Free and Open Source Software clearly has demonstrated its ability to stand in critical environments: from space exploration to SME.

This central position of ERP software often makes it a challenge to deploy it: it is a complex project that needs the commitment of multiple teams in a company. Proprietary ERP solutions are available but the software itself often makes it difficult to deploy (some even say it’s done on purpose). And these deployment costs come on top of the hefty license costs. Moreover, lots of companies don’t need the whole range of features brought by these ERP solutions, and would be served well by choosing simpler solution better fitting their needs.

Luckily, there are viable Free and Open Source solutions available. The hardest part might be to identify the best solution. And that’s where Profoss wants to help you. We’ll bring specialist of the field to share their experience and help you decide what’s the best solution for you. We’ll even have a talk titled ‘How to choose my Open Source ERP system’!

As this subject is very broad, the event will be split in two sessions: one on 18 November focusing on the ERP applications themselves, and on session on 2 December focusing on peripheral applications and integrating ERP systems in your current infrastructure.

No speaker has been officially announced, but you may expect to have leading figures from at least OpenERP, Adempiere, OpenBravo and Compiere.To stay up to date with the advancement of the event organisation, you can subscribe to the Profoss Newsletter or the Profoss Feed.

This event will take place in Brussels, but we’re looking to possibly organise it in other locations throughout Europe. If you want to see such a Profoss event take place near you, be sure to contact us!

About Profoss.
Profoss is in the process of being established as an Belgian non-profit association, with the goal to provide independent and objective information on the use of Free and Open Source technologies in professional environments.

Technorati Tags: Open Source ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, Profoss, Open Source Conference, Adempiere, Compiere OpenBravo, OpenERP, open source applications

Profoss OpenOffice.org event essay

Profoss last week organised an event on OpenOffice.org deployments in professional environments.

SeagullsRunning with the seagulls, by * Toshio *

The event was opened by Roberto Galoppini, who talked about the approach and methodology available for a successful OpenOffice.org migration. After an introduction to the OpenOffice.org community and the way OpenOffice.org has been promoted in Italy, with significant results (doubling of download year over year), Roberto went ahead with advices on OpenOffice.org migrations, based on his own experience. I won’t make a recap of this talk here, but as often, the most obvious points are those that are worth repeating: involve your users, evaluate the situation before migrating, etc. Worth noting is that integration of OpenOffice.org with other enterprise systems might cause troubles at some point. Maybe a repository of approved or certified OpenOffice.org extensions might be helping here, but Roberto doesn’t see a global initiative happening soon, or unrelated to commercial interests of a company.

Next was Eric Descamps, project manager at the Belgian Post for the pilot on OpenOffice.org. After evaluation of the business case of an OOo deployment at the Belgian Post, it was discovered that the returns were more or less the same if the deployment started in a window between now and in 2 years. As a result, the project is now frozen, but can be restarted anytime. I guess this is a good argument when negociating with Microsoft. Let’s hope it won’t be limited at that though. Because the pilot at the Post brought interesting information. As an example, most problems encountered by users where due to format conversions. And this is in agreement with Roberto, who advised to switch to ODF altogether when switching to OOo.

During the break, Bruno Lowagie, from iText fame, gave a demo combining iText and OOo for the generation of PDF documents: the template bring edited in OOo, and the final document generated by iText.

After the break, it was Machtelt Garrels‘ turn to talk. Machtelt is the co-founder of the Belgian chapter of the OpenDoc Society, and gave a passioned talk about avoiding the common pitfalls during a migration. As mentioned above, it’s funny to see the most obvious things be worth repeating. One such thing is that management has to give the example. How can an employee be motivated by a change to OOo if his own managers don’t take the step themselves?

Her talk was followed by a panel discussion where all speakers participated.

This panel discussion closed the third Profoss event, which was again highly rated by all participants.

Profoss was started one year ago to provide quality information about the use of free and open source software in professional environments. Open source technologies are still too often dismissed as unreliable, unsupported geek toys. This is a judgment generally based on unverified allegations or due to ignorance of the open source world. Profoss wants professionals to take their decision to use or reject open source technologies on hard facts.

To reach that goal, Profoss’ first initiative was to organise events bringing non-commercial, informative content.
This was followed by other initiatives like a news website, directories of software and professionals specialised in open source and a planet aggregating feeds from blogs talking about professional open source at planet.profoss.eu.

If you want to be updated about Profoss activities, you can join the newsletter.

Technorati Tags: OpenOffice.org, openoffice, Profoss, RobertoGaloppini, EricDescamps, BrunoLowagie, MachteltGarrels