Open source ERP risks: can your company overcome them?

Open source ERP today can compete with any of the most popular and powerful ERP systems sold worldwide.  They do have some unique risks – None of these will prevent users from achieving the value required with the right energies and resourcefulness deployed.

Open source can become closed

Open source systems are available to us all simply by downloading the code.  These ERP systems gain power and features over time as users and developers make improvements and publish the new capabilities for all to use.  Any product, ERP included, becomes desirable as more users download and use the product. On a few occasions, ad open source ERP became so desirable that someone purchased the rights to control that ERP and sell it to new users.  If that happens, you will be able to continue using the system but future improvements and support will no longer be free.

Learn more about open source ERP with our complete buyer's guide

Open source does not always apply the best practice

The developers who create and improve open source ERP will put their best efforts toward their work.  Often they will try to duplicate features that seem to sell well in other systems. Few of these developers are the scientists that design new “best practices”.  This is not to say open source will be made of worst practices, only that the best practices you read about your competitors might use might not be available in open source ERP.  Keep in mind that the best practices you want to use are the only ones of concern. In addition, if your open source ERP does not employ those practices, develop the improvements you want.

Do you accept liability if you publish your enhancements?

Users of open source ERP often return the favor by publishing their own improvements to the system.  The code is freely available and your own developers will work on enhancements needed by your business.  What happens if that enhancement that works so well for you causes harm to another business? The open source license tells businesses that download systems that there is some risk, which the user accepts.  That acceptance will not always prevent a claim or lawsuit that requires a defense. This risk might be minimal, but it is present.

Open source is not secure

Open source ERP is no more or less secure than other systems.  A user should maintain their own security. Every security needed from data backup to firewalls should be employed to protect your business’ data and networks.  Develop your own security or use one of the many security systems available. Like the commercial says: “What have you got to lose?”


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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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