[FoRK] Open-Source Communities and ERP-Software?

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Jun 14 10:23:19 PDT 2004

This would be my charter for an OpenSource ERP+ project:

Make ERP functionality more widely usable.
Handle not only accounting, payroll, invoicing, estimates, payables, 
receivables, etc., but also credit card billing, banking, sales 
ticklers, scheduling, tracking important tax, finance, holiday, and 
other dates and activities, balance statements, investment, planning, 
budgeting, comparisions to various similar budgets, etc.

Make it usable by non-profits (groups that can often use Open Source and 
other donationware easily), educational institutions, clubs, charities, 
standards groups, and even individuals and professionals.

The basic concepts are the same, the tracking methods can be similar, 
but tuning and built-in "chart of accounts", standard interfaces, and 
other similar things need to be pooled and shared.

For instance, I could use something that tracks books in my personal 
library, software, warranties and support contracts (when are they 
expiring, etc.), complex budget estimation, tax events, relationship 
tracking and tickling (when has it been too long since I've talked to a 
client or associate), etc.

Make it easy for accountants/tax preparers to understand, use, and 
interact with the data.

Add document capture and tracking integrated with transaction association.

Get off of Oracle.  Accounting has simple database needs, MySQL is more 
than enough.

Consider XML-based document orientation to the main transactions, like 
an invoice or quote, which allows easy customization but also allows for 
PKI-based signing and encryption.

In an accounting system, you should never update records except for 
cached totals, you should always write new records and roll them up or 
filter for the newest in later operations.  Don't force closeouts of 
detail every month and other obsolete accounting methods.


Frank Bergmann wrote:

>Maybe sombody could tell me just simply to abandon the project, 
>but the idea to fight M$ & Co. with open-source is just so tempting...
>It's ....
>... I'm one of the founders of Project/Open, an "open-source based" 
>project management and collaboration software. We've just released
>the version 2.0 (http://www.project-open.org/ -> Download) if
>you want to try. It requires a recent Linux or Solaris system with
>Oracle 8.1.7. We're planning a PostgreSQL port for later this year. 
>The main problem of Project/Open is a conflict between the open-
>source idea and the ERP software environment. They just don't seem
>to fit together. OSS developers are repelled by "boring" ERP stuff
>(think accounting ...) while customer really don't mind to pay quite 
>some money for the "information backbone" of their company. So is there 
>any chance to succeed with the open-source idea in this arena and to 
>get some serious market share? 
>Our current thinking deals with the question _who_ really is suposed
>to participate in an online developer community. We think that maybe
>(small) IT companies could be candidates, if we could convince them 
>to contribute their software to a common body of (GPLed?) source code.
>But IT companies act more or less rationally in the economic sense,
>so we need to create some kind of restrictions to the use of the code 
>in order to enforce the "desired" code-sharing behaviour.
>So we have come up with a distinction between GPLed "commodity" software
>and proprietary "added-value" modules. Maybe we could convince our small 
>IT companies to use GPLed software to cover the 80% of the functionalty
>that is identical amongst all ERP systems, so that they can concentrate
>in their sectorial knowledge to create customized solutions.
>So my question is:
>Would _you_ participate in such a scheme?
>Or: How should the scheme look like in order to be more attractive?
>mailto:frank.bergmann at project-open.com
>FoRK mailing list

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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