Case for Open Source

Can an Advanced ERP System Really be FREE?

Open Source is a big new trend: Google is doing it, Facebook is doing it, and Odoo is doing it too.  What is open-source and how do companies benefit from it? Answered simply, open source means that the source code of an application is free for reuse.  Because Odoo’s primary code base is Open Source, this means that anyone can download and run Odoo for business purposes 100% FREE! How does a company find business value in giving its stuff out for free?  Simple. Open Source code facilitates a global ecosystem of thousands of developers that are able to contribute to make code awesome! Many, possibly even most of the biggest software products in the world are built off of Open Source projects.  Most mobile phones are built on top of Open Source Operating Systems, Airbnb was built with Facebook’s Open Source project called React, and Microsoft uses many open source products for their development.

            Open Source has been key for Odoo’s development.  Even though it is only 14 years old, Odoo has quickly become a global company that is beginning to challenge long established ERP providers such as SAP and NetSuite.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but a very large reason is that it is built on top of an Open Source codebase. This has facilitated an environment that has allowed thousands of developers to contribute to the development of its core applications and build over 20,000 community apps, something with which no other ERP Provider can compete.  However, Odoo is not completely Open Source. Odoo is a modular platform that allows you to pay per user and per app on a monthly or annual basis. The core applications and architecture is Open Source, but if you want to start using Enterprise applications, have additional features, and get Professional support for a system that will continue being relevant and supported for years to come, then going Enterprise is essential.

            Odoo’s Open Source version, called the Community Edition, is quite comprehensive of most business needs. The Community Edition provides capabilities including invoicing, management of sales, CRM, inventory, manufacturing, website, eCommerce, point of sale, intracompany chats, and much more.  For many small business owners who are just getting started and cannot afford many operating expenses, this may be enough to support their business for the short term. They will be able to track most of their business operations on this modern platform and get comfortable with Odoo.  They are also able to buy or download for free, thousands of community apps with minimal IT support. It is really quite practical to use Odoo Community Edition for many small businesses. Another great feature of Odoo Community for businesses planning to transition to Enterprise, is that your data is already in a single platform and data migration to an Enterprise version takes minutes rather than weeks or months.

            Despite the fact that Odoo Community is extremely powerful and comprehensive of a company’s business needs, the Enterprise Edition far exceeds the Community Edition which lacks the accounting module, advanced manufacturing, subscription billing, and many other features.  However, the primary advantage of Odoo Enterprise Edition is that it offers the best features and premium support. It is possible to modify Odoo Community Edition so that it does 95% of what Odoo Enterprise does, but 10 years from now, when your Odoo community edition is many versions behind the most recent version, it will be very difficult for you to migrate your data and upgrade to the most current version of Odoo which is sure to have the latest, most awesome features as it has continuously done for 14 years.  If you are paying for Odoo Enterprise, they will migrate your data to the latest version for free as part of your subscription. The difference between Odoo Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition is a platform that is free and a platform that potentially costs a couple thousand dollars per year. However, the cost of the Enterprise Edition may actually be less if you consider the amount of specialized IT time and knowledge it will take to maintain the Community Edition to make it perform as well as the Enterprise Edition. Overall, if you are using the platform to its maximum capabilities, the benefits that your business reaps from automating tasks, simplifying management, and making more accurate business predictions are well worth the investment.

            Open Source has enabled Odoo to grow incredibly quickly and facilitate an ecosystem that is modern, sleek, and powerful.  BizyLife is excited to be a part of the Odoo community and its growth into the future. Overall, although BizyLife understands the financial constraints of small businesses, we strongly encourage clients to have a roadmap towards going Enterprise so you can maximize your success.