Benefits of ERPNext in Australia
The evolution of ERP systems has had both its successes and failures; however, given the costs and complexities of traditional implementations, cloud and SaaS based solutions such as ERPNext offer new ways of tackling some of the most notorious challenges. A brief overview of the benefits include: cost reduction, rapid deployment, flexibility and scalability, improved accessibility and usability, and efficient supply chain management (SCM). On the flipside, cloud and SaaS based ERP systems may be associated with limitations, such as reduced functionality and support availability, reduced customization and integration, perceived data risks and organizational resistance (Duan et al. 2013). For this report, we will be investigating the benefits and limitations of ERPNext in Australia (and globally) to gain a more detailed overview of open-source cloud-based ERP functionality.
Rapid Implementation & Deployment.
One of the main challenges of both hosted and in-house ERPs, is that system integrators and vendors customize pre-existing templates and configure them to match the specific practices and processes within an enterprise. This is a daunting and expensive task in most organizations, particularly of the larger variety.
ERPNext answers this problem with out-of-the-box functionality tailored to suit a multitude of industries and business requirements. When the system is first installed, the end-user is prompted to answer a series of questions. The answers given will determine what system functions will be made available upon the initial startup. This feature was incorporated into the design to ensure users were not overwhelmed with options when first using the software.
For example, a small enterprise that resells stationary online will not require a wide variety of modules – such as manufacturing, human resource management and POS functions. These modules are only hidden, and not permanently disabled. This allows for the system to grow with the business.
This approach significantly reduces deployment time, whilst still addressing the most critical needs of an organization. The amount of time taken to implement a cloud ERP system depends on how long a business takes to update its affected processes and pertinent data rather than the time needed to build the system.
Flexibility and Scalability (Hey, It’s Open Source!)
Being both Open Source and cloud-based allows for enormous flexibility with ERPNext. The open source license ensures users cannot be ‘locked-in’ to any particular service provider, giving them the power to not only own their data, but their software (and modifications) as well. This also extends to hosting on a user’s own server in order to gain complete ownership and privacy of their data.
Having complete access to the source code further enhances the product’s scalability. Today’s ERPs are quickly evolving to meet the ever-changing competitive environment (Duan et al. 2013), so customizations are a standard operation. In regards to ERPNext, any programmer with Python and MariaDB (MySQL) experience can make extensive modifications to the base product. This can include (but not limited to):
– Extending functionality of software modules.
– Integrating ERPNext with 3rd party and / or legacy software
Out of the box e-commerce
An advantage specific to ERPNext is the inclusion of out-of-thebox e-commerce functionality. Once ERPNext is deployed, the system generates a website capable of hosting an online store. Any product that is sold using the system has the option to be listed, allowing for instant online sales with up-to-date stock information.
Online portals are also available for various users. Paying customers are able to login to obtain information relating to their order – such as shipping data and invoicing documents. Suppliers are also able to login to verify stock levels.
Considering that smartphones and tablets account for over 75% of devices connected to the internet (Columbus, 2013), mobile access to ERP data should be considered a standard feature. ERPNext includes this feature seamlessly, having built the software on a responsive framework and with mobile and touch access considered. The responsive framework allows the user interface to adapt to any device accessing the content, without compromising any functionality. See fig 2.1 and 2.2 for visual comparison.
Fig 2.1 PC GUI
Fig 2.2 Mobile (Smartphone) GUI
Being an open-source product, ERPNext can be downloaded and deployed within a user’s environment for zero cost. When compared to the $6.5 million dollar average cost of an ERP implementation (in the last four years), the availability of free software is overly enticing for small and medium businesses (Panorama, 2014). For enterprises wishing to reduce their dependence on IT infrastructure and maintenance, ERPNext is also offered as a SaaS product hosted on FrappeCloud.com. The pricing is very affordable, with offerings ranging from $149 USD per year for 2 users, and up to $600 USD per year for 100 user instances. At present, Aves Group is also hosting ERPNext systems to clients interested in trialing the V5 Alpha.
As a cloud-based solution (whether it be hosted with FrappeCloud.com or an independent vendor), the system can easily scale up its offerings in response to organizational needs. The vendor is responsible for maintaining software and hardware, including patches, refreshes, upgrades, back-ups, user support, and system monitoring. These services would usually be very expensive for an enterprise if it has to keep them on-staff or contract, especially for start-up businesses. Consequently, the overall cost of implementing such a system is 50-60% lower than the traditional ERP solutions (Duan et al. 2013).
Free community support is available in the event help is required. Once again, you are not dependent on your service provider for assistance.