Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

How to run your small business with free open source software

Paul Rubens | Nov. 15, 2013
From simple bookkeeping packages to full-blown ERP systems, open source software can provide free options for small businesses that don't have the budget for big-ticket enterprise applications.

Open Source ERP Software Systems
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is complex and can be very costly. But open source alternatives to SAP or Microsoft Dynamics exist:

  • The popular and comprehensive open source ERP package ADempiere (Windows, OS X, Linux and Unix) offers accounting, manufacturing management, material management, finance, human resource, project management and maintenance management features.
  • OFBiz is the Apache Foundation's Java-based, multi-platform enterprise business package. It includes ERP, accounting, CRM, supply chain management, manufacturing resource management and enterprise asset management functionality.
  • OpenERP (Windows and Linux) provides a full suite of applications, including sales management, accounting and finance, recruitment, purchase management and manufacturing resource management. A paid version - which includes support, automated updates and an unlimited bug fix guarantee - is available for € 35 (about $50) per user per month.

Open Source CRM Software Options
Commercial customer relationship management (CRM) software is available from niche vendors, software as a service providers such as Salesforce.com and large software vendors such as Oracle. Here are three open source alternatives:

  • The SugarCRM Community Edition (Windows, OS X, Linux and UNIX) is the free, unsupported version of a comprehensive CRM product that includes sales force automation, marketing campaigns and customer support.
  • OpenCRX (Windows, OS X and Linux) is designed for organizations that need multifunctional, enterprise-wide coordination of sales generation, sales fulfillment, marketing and service activities for customers, partners, suppliers and intermediaries.
  • The multi-platform Fat Free CRM is a Ruby on Rails-based CRM platform that features group collaboration, campaign and lead management, contact lists and opportunity tracking out of the box.

Open Source Communications and Telephony Software
Private branch exchange (PBX) hardware used to be very expensive, but software-based PBX releases bring the price of PBXs down. The open source PBX market is dominated by Asterisk software.

  • AsteriskNOW (Linux) is an easy-to-install IP PBX that comes with the FreePBX administrative GUI. The Asterisk project is sponsored by Digium, which also offers a commercial version of the PBX.
  • Elastix (Linux) is based on Asterisk telephony software, but it also integrates fax, instant messaging and email functionality from other open source projects. Features include voicemail, fax-to-email, support for softphones, virtual conference rooms and call recording.

Open Source Content Management Systems
Content management systems power websites - and many of the world's largest sites use an cross-platform, open source CMS such as the following:

  • Big-name sites such as The Economist, Examiner.com and The White House use Drupal. Features include user account registration and maintenance, menu management, RSS feeds, page layout customization and system administration.
  • WordPress started as a blogging system but has evolved into a full-blown CMS with thousands of plugins, widgets and themes. It's the most popular blogging platform on the Web and powers about 20 percent of the top 10 million sites on the Internet.
  • Second only to WordPress in implementations, Joomla is used by organizations including Harvard University and Citibank, and is. Thousands of extensions, both free and commercial , are available from the Joomla! Extension Directory.
  • Java-based OpenCMS offers a browser-based work environment (including a WYSIWYG editor) as well as asset, user and workflow management.

 

Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.