How to prepare for implementing an open source ERP

Open source ERP systems work much like a traditional system.  But selecting and implementing one has a few important differences.  Be sure you and your business are good candidates and are well prepared before taking the leap.

Know your requirements

Your selection of an ERP system should always be based on what you need and not what someone has for sale.  Number one is to define your requirements and rank them with a dividing line between those absolutely essential and others that are in the ‘nice to have’ category.  If you find an open source ERP system that seems to meet your needs, continue.

Management direction and approval

Your enterprise management will need to give the OK for any ERP as the implementation will consume resources and cost significant money.  Make sure they understand the concept of open source ERP and what this entails, such as development and hardware costs, and the differences between open source and another ERP they might already have experience with.  Surprising the boss with an unexpected result is often career-threatening.

Implement open source ERP successfully with our step-by-step guide to ERP implementation success

Do-it yourself

Many of us have a good set of tools and think nothing of bringing home an appliance that needs some assembly.  Others are all thumbs and would never consider such a task.  Open source ERP is a DIY project for your business.  If DIY is part of your enterprise DNA, open source might be exactly what will work best for you.

That means you will need to evaluate the network and hardware required for your ERP and get them working using in-house resources.  Customization of open source ERP will be much easier as you have the source code on hand. You can provide your own software experts or hire them outside and often at a much lower price that another ERP.

Support is not downloadable like the source code.  You might be on your own here.  Open source updates come from a worldwide community of developers.  While they likely will work, they also probably have not been subjected to extensive testing that a commercially available ERP will provide so they can avoid problems.  If you make extensive updates to the code, you probably will need to continue as outside improvements might not work with your code changes.

Finding resources to help could be challenging

Most traditional ERP systems have large companies to help support you when you are in need.  Many of those ERPs have hundreds to third parties lining up to provide whatever help you ask for.  An open source ERP might have very few resources available and some of them are on the other side of the world.  Maybe you do find a good resource, they are the only support on the planet, and will they be available to help next month when you have another question?

Open source ERP is not for everyone, but If your needs are unique and you have the capability to provide your own support, customization, and integrations, it could be just what you need.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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