Open source ERP player upgrades suite

OpenMFG this week is expected to unveil the latest version of its ERP suite, which adds a CRM module, multicurrency capabilities and enhanced manufacturing scheduling tools.

OpenMFG's software is aimed primarily at small and midsize manufacturers and distributors, and its modules include inventory management, product costing, work order management, capacity planning, purchase order management, shipping and receiving, project management, sales analysis and general ledger.

The suite is built on a foundation of open source components, including the PostgreSQL database, OpenRPT report writer, and QT for its GUI. The vendor has developed a hybrid license model: It charges a fee for the software license, and it gives customers and partners access to the application source code. Any enhancements users make to the product can be sent back to OpenMFG for review, quality testing and possible incorporation into the baseline product.

"We manage this community of partners and customers like an open source project. Everybody is able and encouraged to make enhancements at the source code level, and then we bring those modifications back into the supported project," says Ned Lilly, CEO at OpenMFG.

In Version 2.0, more than 90 percent of the new features were developed directly by customers, or on behalf of customers by a reseller or OpenMFG. Pemla Inks partnered with OpenMFG on the multicurrency capabilities and CRM module, for example. The Quebec-based, company also contributed functionality that supports a percentage-based bill of materials, which is particularly important for companies in process flow manufacturing industries.

The new CRM module was the most requested feature among customers, Lilly says. It includes incident management tools for tracking customer communications and trouble tickets. A new universal address book stores all contact information and addresses in one place for the entire system.

On the manufacturing front, OpenMFG bolstered its material requirements planning capabilities to include a full master production schedule and forecasting. OpenMFG also added buffer management tools -- contributed by a customer -- that are designed to give users with more control over manufacturing processes. By defining buffers around time, inventory and capacity parameters, the buffer management tools give users the flexibility to reprioritize manufacturing processes to address production bottlenecks or accommodate unforeseen demands.

OpenMFG offers perpetual per-user licensing and subscription-based licensing. A site subscription starts at US$1,000 per user, per year.

Other vendors with open-source ERP products include Compiere, ERP5 and the Apache Open For Business project.

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