10 Open Source ERP Options
Updated · Nov 10, 2014
Take a look at the ERP market and you’ll find a landscape dominated by a handful of commercial products offered by well-known enterprise software vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Sage.
Although there are plenty of open source ERP projects, their combined market share is negligible – perhaps as little as 1 or 2 percent. That’s despite the many known advantages of open source software, such as the fact that it is usually free to download and can be customized as much as needed.
What accounts for this measly market share? While a number of factors are likely at play, one of the most important ones is that most open source projects lack marketing budgets while vendors like Oracle and SAP spend billions of dollars on sales and marketing.
That’s important because ERP systems are mission-critical applications, and selecting a good one is far from easy. That means most buyers need help with the selection process. But since most open source projects have little or no money to spend on sales and marketing efforts, it is disproportionately hard for them to get shortlisted and eventually selected.
There’s also the problem of expertise. Open source projects in general have been particularly successful in areas where the developers are developing for other developers; in other words when they are building IT tools and infrastructure products like operating systems and Web servers. But few open source developers are experts at business, or have the expertise to know exactly what businesses need.
One way around this problem is for projects to commercialize themselves, creating an open source core, and then building proprietary extensions to the core code to make a commercial offering that is no longer open source. As a result, some of the free ERP offerings — while powerful — are nowhere near as complete as the commercial products that are built on top of them.
Open Source ERP Short List
Here are some of the best open source ERP offerings available today:
ADempiere ERP Business Suite. (Java) ADempiere is a comprehensive multi-platform ERP platform that was forked from another ERP project called Compiere back in 2006. It offers a vast array of features including sales, purchasing, accounting, manufacturing management, material management and finance, as well as HR, CRM and payroll. The software is available to download from Sourceforge under the GPL.
Apache OFBiz. Multi-platform (Java) OFBiz (which stands for Open for Business) is the Apache Foundation’s enterprise business package. Released under the Apache License 2.0, it is free to download from Apache. The suite includes many ERP functions including e-commerce, catalog management, promotion and pricing management, order management, warehouse management, accounting, manufacturing management, PoS and other features.
The community edition of Odoo is available to download for free, and this includes all modules – ERP ones as well as CRM, marketing and others. The hosted version is available free for two users, and thereafter costs Euros 12 per user ($15 U.S) per month for each app, including email support. A more comprehensive package that includes customization assistance and training materials is also available for Euros 111 per user ($138 U.S.) per month for each app.
xTuple. (Qt and Postgres) xTuple claims to be the world’s number one open source ERP suite and has been around in one form or another since 2000. It offers a free open source edition called PostBooks which is available from Sourceforge, and is also available as a licensed product with maintenance, support and the option to use it as a service offered from the cloud.
As well as these two editions, which are aimed at small and medium sized companies, xTuple offers three further commercial editions for larger organizations – one aimed at distributors, one targeted at manufacturers and a more general enterprise edition. These are built on the same open source foundation and share the same code base.
The open source edition includes functionality for accounting, sales, CRM, purchasing, product definition, inventory and distribution, light manufacturing and the OpenRPT open source report writer. The commercial license for PostBooks costs $1,200 per user for a perpetual license, or $400 per user per year. If used as a service this costs an extra $100 per month, plus $30 per user per month.
Openbravo ERP. (Java) Openbravo is an open source ERP system which is available to download on Sourceforge. Aimed at small and medium sized businesses, this modular system includes finance and accounting, purchasing management, sales management, inventory management, project management, PoS, business intelligence and other modules.
Openbravo also offers two commercial editions – a professional edition for smaller companies with up to 5 concurrent users and an enterprise edition for larger companies with substantial numbers of users.
opentaps is an integrated open source ERP and CRM suite sponsored by Open Source Strategies, Inc. and used by organizations including Toyota and Honeywell. Opentaps supports e-commerce, CRM, warehouse and inventory management, supply chain management, financial management, business intelligence and mobility integration out of the box. The name “opentaps” was originally an acronym for “Open Source Enterprise Applications Suite.”
opentaps is available as free software under the GNU Affero GPL v3, and also with a commercial license that allows you to modify the source code without the obligation to make your customizations public.
The opentaps Professional Edition is offered under a commercial license with a support package provided by Open Strategies that includes updates for opentaps releases, access to opentaps support issue tracker, guaranteed response time of four hours during support hours and remote assistance via VNC and SSH for $600 per user per year.
Dolibarr. Designed for small companies and individual traders, Dolibarr is an open source business suite that includes ERP and CRM functionality. It can be installed on a local machine or accessed from a server, and is also offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution with a free trial period by Dolibarr preferred partners including DoliCloud and ATM Consulting.
The software is highly modular, and main modules include sales and purchase management, stock management, bank account management, orders management and shipping management. Additional paid-for modules are also available from the official DoliStore.
ERP5. (Python, Zope) ERP5 covers accounting, customer relationship management, trade, warehouse management, shipping, invoicing, human resource management, product design, production and project management.
ERPNext. (MySQL, Python) ERPNext is an ERP solution similar to Openbravo and Odoo, aimed at small and medium sized businesses
LedgerSMB. (PostgreSQL, Perl) LedgerSMB is a free double entry accounting and ERP software system aimed at small and medium sized businesses.
Paul Rubens has been covering enterprise technology for over 20 years. In that time he has written for leading UK and international publications including The Economist, The Times, Financial Times, the BBC, Computing and ServerWatch.
Paul Ferrill has been writing for over 15 years about computers and network technology. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering as well as a MS in Electrical Engineering. He is a regular contributor to the computer trade press. He has a specialization in complex data analysis and storage. He has written hundreds of articles and two books for various outlets over the years. His articles have appeared in Enterprise Apps Today and InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, Forbes, and many other publications.