Enterprise Apps

OpenERP Aims to Bring ERP to the SMB Masses

OpenERP has rolled out version 6.0 of its open source ERP product. It is the first upgrade of OpenERP in close to two years, with significant enhancements to its business applications.

Going forward, the company has committed to more frequent releases of its major versions and point releases.

“Our contributors want to see the work they have submitted integrated into the product faster,” Marc Laporte, chief operating officer of OpenERP, told CRM Buyer.

Also, the company has developed significant momentum since last year, when it raised US$4 million to help fund its global expansion, he added.

Version 6.0 is a major release with more than 100 new features — and it is still priced for the SMB’s budget, Laporte said. “The cost of enterprise ERP is prohibitive for smaller companies. Because we are based on open source, though, we can offer a product at price points that are favorable for small businesses.”

A typical SaaS ERP application might run between $100 to $120 per user per month, he said — compared with OpenERP’s $39 monthly per user fee.

A Complete Suite

Like its earlier versions, OpenERP v.6 includes functionality from most categories found in a typical enterprise resource application: CRM, purchase management, manufacturing, warehouse management, project management, accounting and human resources.

Open source developers contributed more than 800 suggestions after the application was made available as a release candidate, many of which were incorporated into the final version, Laporte said.

These include new logistics functionality to manage push and pull flows, a redesigned CRM app with geolocation functionality that can send a customer to the nearest dealer, an integrated direct marketing module, new tracking of tickets for support and after-sales services, talent acquisition, extended multicompany functionality, a streamlined accounting interface and manufacturing scrap management.

This version also focused on improving the app’s usability, Laporte said. To that end, the company made tweaks or redesigns so that any process could be completed within a single application. For example, a a purchasing manager can create a new account, place an order, check the order’s status and validate the bill in the same application. There is also a newly designed user interface and new navigation features.

The streamlined interface and window views are good for OpenERP’s main user base — small and medium sized businesses, said Jay Lyman, senior analyst for enterprise software at the 451 Group.

“They are also doing similar things with the menus for different users, based on their access levels,” he told CRM Buyer.

At the same time, OpenERP has injected a new level of sophistication to its offering, giving users new ability to customize throughout the application, Lyman pointed out.

Easy Installation

Installation is also simple, Laporte said, with most applications able to start within a few clicks after download.

Version 6 will be available both in the cloud and as an on-premise application.

“We believe this is important for our users, many of which do not want to use cloud-based applications for sensitive operations,” said Laporte.

The dual channels are also important as OpenERP goes up against NetSuite and Salesforce.com, he added.

Significant Jump

Given the age of the company, the update is a significant jump in functionality, Lyman said. It also is a good illustration of the benefits and challenges that come with open source.

“Some people may see the update process as onerous. On the flip side, true collaboration is not as easily facilitated in a licensing environment,” he noted.

When all is said and done, Lyman concluded, OpenERP is “a good example of a company using open source to target a piece of the market that has been overlooked by some of the larger, more established vendors.”

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