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What is the best free open source ERP solution available?

Carrie Scott's Profile

best open source erp



Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |


I think the best way to answer this question is to start with your company's unique requirements. What works for many other companies may not fit well with yours (if you have something different that cannot be changed).

If you know your key requirements, you can then evaluate at least 2 competitors so you know what you'll NOT get from the winning solution. Your evaluation should also cover: functionality, technology, vendor product strategy, total cost of ownership (that includes the cost of adding technology to close gaps).

An ounce of selection is worth a pound of implementation:)

Best regards

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Len, great point about starting with assessing requirements. I found this free white paper here at Proformative titled,

"SaaS and Cloud ERP Observations: Is Cloud ERP Right for You? :"

We also have another,

"Transforming your Business with Cloud ERP:"

Finally, you should definitely get your free copy of

"The Proformative Community Guide To ERP Selection & Implementation:"

It's an incredibly handy guide to ERP.

Finally, take a look at this free webinar with CPE here at Proformative titled,

"From Theory to Practice: Guiding Principles for Effective Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)"


Best... Sarah

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

This a repeat answer to similar questions (and tacks with Len's answer):

There is no "best" system!

There is the "best" system for you, the individual company that meets your needs based on an exacting analysis using a best practice approach.

Is it a horizontal marketed product? Maybe. But it also may be a vertical. How would you know unless you did a needs matrix and then your research?

Maybe the question should be: "Do you know of blank software for blank purpose?"

Fred Blauer
Title: CEO
Company: Fred Blauer and Associates
(CEO, Fred Blauer and Associates) |

I quite agree with both Len and Wayne. However, having said that there are literally hundreds of opensource ERP alternatives and its not really possible to look at all of them. For entry level I would have a look at Front Accounting and ERPnext. For mid to high end, I would include xTuple and Openerp in my evaluation. One of the advantages of open source is that that you can download them, and do a good evaluation. A couple of things you would probably want to look for is the availability of reliable (commercial grade) support, and a large and active community. The best fit will depend on your requirements.

Kelvin Arcelay
Title: SVP Security and Risk Management
Company: Private Company
(SVP Security and Risk Management, Private Company) |

This paper might prove useful in your process:

However I would offer the following general comment, open source or free does not mean cheap to administer and maintain. As Len, Wen and Fred suggested verify what are your requirements and find the closest match for your company needs.

Chuck Boecking
Title: Open Source ERP and Business Intelligenc..
Company: Chuck Boecking
(Open Source ERP and Business Intelligence, Chuck Boecking) |

I really like ADempiere as an open source ERP for medium to larger implementations ($30M through about $500M). Here are my thoughts. I hope they help.

There are not that many real open source ERP systems for larger installations. For example: our biggest customer put over 12M records to the GL last year, shipped 10M units per month, and processed over 140K order lines per month. They are far exceeding those number this year. If anyone knows of a similar implementation, please share.

Interesting features of ADempiere, Compiere and OpenBravo:
(1) Multi-organization - you can manage multiple sets of books from within the same sign-in. You can produce individual or consolidated financial reports from the same report structure.
(2) The GL is a data cube; therefore, mining financial data (either from inside the system or outside of the system) is easily accessible.
(3) Multi-currency - Each organization has an Accounting Schema. The schema has a currency. The GL captures the source and the accounting debit and credit values. Example: US organization creates an invoice in CAD -> The GL captures both currency values.
(4) Accounting complexity - There are clearing accounts for each of the major muscle movements (AR, AP, Inventory, Cash). Therefore, it is easier to defend GL balances against control reports in high volume.
(5) Perpetual accounting - You can manage multiple calendars against the same Accounting Schema. It accomplishes this by adopting perpetual accounting. Here is a link for more reading ( Closing a financial calendar year becomes much easier.
(6) Dynamic account segments - once you define your account segments, system documents (material receipts, sales invoices) generate the account combinations dynamically. This allows you to include products and business partners as a segment. That allows you to generate P&L statement against individual business partners and products.
(...) call me if you want more detail...

Here is a post that goes into more detail about manufacturing capabilities (

My background: I have been an ERP administrator for 10 years. My expertise is with distribution and light manufacturing. I worked with Microsoft Dynamics (Great Plains) for 6 years and with ADempiere (Compiere and OpenBravo) for 6 years. There were two years of overlap as we replaced Dynamics with ADempiere. In my current role, I teach Open Source ERP professionally. I first learned Compiere from Jorg in 2003.

ADempiere History: Compiere was one of the first enterprise open source ERP packages available. Jorg Janke released it after working 6 years as Director of Enterprise Systems at Oracle ( ADempiere (2006) and OpenBravo (2004) are both forks of the Compiere application.

Differences between ADempiere, OpenBravo and Compiere:
* ADempiere is considered pure open source. It is released in 2006 under the GPL v2 license, and there is no corporate entity that drives features. Instead, global integrators collectively update the application to meet the needs of their market. The application is freely available via
* OpenBravo is considered commercial open source. It forked from Compiere in about 2004. They charge for an enterprise version that unlocks manufacturing, webPOS, wave planning and other features. The cost is about $1,000 per concurrent user per year. OpenBravo is best known for its point of sale capabilities.
* Compiere is also considered commercial open source as well. Compiere has been bought and sold a couple of times. Unfortunately, I do not believe Jorg is still involved with the day to day operations.

Complaints about ADempiere:
(1) Lack if existing reports. Even though I like the two report writers (a) native and (b) Jasper, some of the advanced reports that you would find in Microsoft Dynamics and Sage do not exist.
(2) The user interface is not particularly attractive. It has sort of a cold German steel look. For example OpenERP is much sexier.
(3) Complexity. The enterprise features in the accounting system tend to cause issues for smaller companies.

I hope this information helps! There were many people who helped me understand the good, bad and the ugly regarding open source ERP. I am just paying it forward.

If you want to talk in more detail about your specific needs, you can reach me at 512.850.6068. I teach and audit Open Source ERP installation as a profession.


Chuck Boecking

Waithaka Ngigi
Title: CEO, Alliance Technologies
Company: AT
(CEO, Alliance Technologies, AT) |

There is a brief but good blog here on the different open source erp's. Hope it helps

There really is no one-size fits all, and indeed anyone who comes up with such an ERP will probably not be a good fit.

Look at the vendors capabilities, experience and focus, see who aligns with your industry and size the best.


Michael DeCamillis
Title: President
Company: Dolvin Consulting
(President, Dolvin Consulting) |


A lot of good answers here to review. A lot depends on how you define "open source". On one hand you could mean, does the solution come with the source code and is that included in the purchase price. On another it could mean you want to avoid the license fees.

There are several good points above especially where people point out that open does not mean cheap to administer or maintain.

There is a reason mature ERP solutions have an initial license fee and annual maintenance. Who will support the solution, build new modules and interfaces to keep up with changing technology? Who do you call for help? What is the comparative labor rate and overhead for qualified people to develop and maintain an open system versus having a contract with an organization that takes care of the details for you? This different, but also similar to the hosted or cloud versus on premise benefit discussions.

Do you want to concentrate on the software solution or your business operations?

I am not saying open source is bad, but there can be high overhead associated with it. Careful analysis of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should be made.

This seems to be a timely issue as I have had a few conversations lately about the actual fees associated with ERP solutions. The ownership wanted an open source solution, but was bogged down by a backlog of already unfulfilled technology tasks and high labor costs and staff overhead. The solution we are discussing comes with source code so it can be modified in house or by the solution provider.

The real point to acknowledge is that since the ERP solution is essentially already written, the license fees associated are not for the software, it is for the support of your organization and the development of new technologies to keep current with constant change in the way businesses utilize technology.

Of course a lot depends on what you want to accomplish as there are little details about your operations or existing challenges, current solutions, what is working, what is not, and growth goals. I look forward to discussing the details when time permits.


Michael Ducille
Title: Software Engineer
Company: THE FAS Solutions
(Software Engineer, THE FAS Solutions) |

I like openerp and dolibar because they have good dashboards and almost all the modules which a standard user might need.

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