What is ERP?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resources Planning. The goal of ERP applications is to fulfill the operational requirements of businesses of all sizes. Before ERP was invented, companies used to run several dedicated software packages to manage their daily operations. The first business applications were used to handle accounting tasks. Later, software was developed to manage manufacturing, purchasing, inventory and sales. The problem was integration - getting all these different systems to work together was a nightmare. It still is.
Then came ERP. The big promise of ERP was to solve the integration nightmare by providing a software suite that covered all business requirements within a single software piece. ERP applications were initially adopted by large manufacturing companies. The software helped them improve manufacturing quality and efficiency, streamline their supply chain, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.
There was one problem, though - ERP was very expansive and took too long to implement. Expensive means that an ERP implementation can cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for a multi-year contract on a global scale.2-3 years implementation projects are a great success, 5 years is average,10 years is close to disaster. Despite the challenges, many ERP projects are extremely successful. It is sometimes argued that without these applications the wave of global growth between the years 2003-2007 could not have happened.
ERP solutions were traditionally used by very large enterprises. But for the past 5 years, a new breed of ERP solutions has emerged-open source ERP. If you look for ERP on sourceforge.com , you'll find more than 400 related projects. Most of these projects are dead. But others are becoming a true alternative to proprietary, closed-source ERP solutions.
Why should you try open source ERP?
There are good reasons why IT experts should take a look at these solutions:
There are about 5-6 open source ERP solutions worth trying out, most of them written in Java (Openbravo, Compiere, Apache OFBiz,Adempiere), and Python (TinyERP,PostBooks). Download, install and try them out.
To summarize, open source ERP is becoming increasingly popular amongst small and medium business world-wide, opening up new opportunities for IT experts to expand their knowledge base and consulting experience.
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