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

Sergio Montoro Ten sergiom at knowgate.com
Mon Jun 14 12:15:51 PDT 2004

OSS+ERP have several problems :

1st) ERP is a mature market.
No matter how good your product is,
entering a mature market is always hard.

2nd) There are zillions of bad quality propietary ERP tools sold by
small enterprises that see OSS as a threat.
These products will desappear in the long run, but their owners will not
cooperate with any OSS substitutive project.

3rd) If you want to take advantage of the community then you must have a
"community process". This is the ability of actually merging contributions
in your core product easily. Using SourceForce for bug tracking
and release publishing is one thing. Having a true collaborative environment
for software production is another much more complicated challenge.
Having an effective revenue sharing business model is another
unresolved point for GPL style products.

4th) Technology is no longer an innovation at backbone information support.
Ten years ago switching from mainframe to client/server computing was an
strategic movement.
Today companies that had not modernized their information systems
no longer exist. So once you have an IT infrastructure that works fine,
What's the need of changing it for OSS?
Remember that customers only switch from one technology to another
when there is a great visible advantage in favor of the new one.

5th) You must go for big customers.
I bought my accounting software for $500 4 years ago.
I have never changed or updated it, it works and that's all.
I don't care whether this software costs $500 or $1000 or it is free.
It just performs a basic service and it is affordable.
You cannot sell OSS-ERP to customers willing to pay less than $500
for a program because there are much people but few money there.
And you cannot sell OSS-ERP to people willing to pay $500 because
a closed package is enought for them as long as it works fine and it's easy
to use.
So you must climb up the hill looking for bigger customers
needing a higher level of customization.

6th) I disagree with the ideas of Stephen D. Williams
about having a lot of features and abandoning Oracle.
Products with a few good features
tend to be more successfull
than products with a large number of poor features.
And MySQL is still viewed as a "not serious" database
among corporate systems managers.
So if you belive in 5th my point then supporting Oracle
is a good bet.

Sergio Montoro Ten
sergiom at knowgate.com

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Frank Bergmann" <fraber at fraber.de>
To: <fork at xent.com>
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2004 4:27 PM
Subject: [FoRK] Open-Source Communities and ERP-Software?

> 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?
> Bests,
> Frank
> mailto:frank.bergmann at project-open.com
> http://www.project-open.com/
> _______________________________________________
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