Open source webERP takes on the big guns

Integration options make customisation less expensive

ERP software may be largely the realm of large enterprises, but little known open source application, webERP, is becoming more popular and fits into businesses of all sizes.

WebERP is released under the GPL and now averages more than 100 downloads per day from SourceForge.net and has totalled some 250,000 from SourceForge alone.

Developed with PHP, MySQL and “minimal use of JavaScript”, webERP aims for cross-browser compatibility.

Aaron Belsham, director of Launceston, Tasmania-based IT consulting firm A D Belsham, said webERP is “very suitable” for the Australian market at it handles taxable and non-taxable goods easily and does not require any low-level code changes, just configuration options.

“I came across it four years ago and found it to be a really good product. It handles all the tax obligation like GST and company tax, but does not do payroll,” Belsham said. “You can do HR and payroll through OrangeHRM which is full HR application that does leave. And by using webERP APIs you can integrate the two packages fairly cost effectively.”

Belsham said webERP is designed for business turning over more than cash accounting permits, but it usable by a “one man band up”.

Users can build reports “to your specifications” with webERP, for example, for the quarterly BAS. It also integrates with a general ledger application to do profit and loss in real time.

“It's main strengths are in inventory and manufacturing processes,” Belsham said. “And since it's Web-based it doesn't use a lot of resources and agents can be anywhere so lends itself to a distributed company.”

“It also has a large amount of scripts for external applications (like a Web site) it can easily call. For example, an order can go from a Web site into inventory management.”

Belsham said webERP's weakest area wold be around the form editor as a small amount of PHP knowledge is required to modify the form layout.

“You can solve this with a open source reporting product. Also, skills may be hard to come by from an operational perspective. But anyone that comes from an ERP background would probably find it is an improvement over traditional products.”

Belsham said since webERP has been downloaded so many times it is difficult to estimate how many local businesses might be using it.

“I've come across a company that sells products through eBay and does other online sales so they use it for stock tracking and short selling,” he said.

“People who are educated enough to know there is an alternative out there are coming to open source. WebERP can compete with any commercial ERP product. The customisation required of webERP is still a lot less cost than that for a proprietary system. I moved away from proprietary software because if the cost it was imposing on small businesses.”

Belsham is now working on two-way integration of webERP with vTiger CRM (a fork of SugarCRM) so if any data is updated it will be replicated to each application.

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