Can free software run your business?

The open source movement has truly changed the way we all think about and approach software.

Companies and communities like xTuple, Apache, Mozilla, and many others, leverage a mass of contributors across the globe to improve their product rapidly and put it in the hands of their users.

Some of the programs have a very focused, individual-user purpose. For example, Mozilla Thunderbird takes care of your email and calendar while Libre Office affords you the open source equivalent of Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. — all for a raging price tag of Zero Dollars.

However, applications that are designed to run your entire business — by definition — are more complicated to set up and use. They deserve serious consideration as to what is the appropriate requirement in terms of investment in time and other resources (even if the base software is free). Capturing the moving and even non-moving pieces of your business in a collaborative manner has proven to do wondrous things in the ROI department:  See how to calculate return on investment for your ERP.

As the PostBooks® Key Master, I interact with many different businesses all over the world. Some of these companies have been able to successfully implement the free and open source PostBooks® software without any formal assistance. For those ERP do-it-yourself champions, I applaud you.

However, I also see so many companies that don't give adequate consideration as to how best to implement even xTuple's Free Edition (complimentary license for up to 4 concurrent users).

All companies should think about:

  • How will you set up your chart of accounts, pricing schedules, reports, items, costing, work centers, or CRM?
  • How will you set up these elements to best align with the way YOU do business?
  • How will you get set up and trained? Do you have an implementation methodology?

There are many smart people in this manufacturing and technology world. Experience shows us that "ERP-smart" requires a different set of skills that demand proper training specific to the application.

Our ERP Boot Camp class, for example, is a 5-day intense training course in which you start to set up a full business with the application from a blank database. And then you'll perform sales, purchasing, manufacturing, and even scheduling operations towards the end of the course.

We have professional services and post-production support teams along with a global network of trained partners that, if utilized effectively, will allow anyone to get the most out of xTuple. Take this as seriously as you do your business — and your livelihood. Invest the right balance of time and resources in xTuple. Just ask our customers.

Photo credit: mike demers on Flickr

Cam Hagan

Enterprise Software Account Executive at xTuple, October 2012 – January 2017

Qualifying prospective partner and customer leads from Free Trial applicants, website inquiries, telephone calls, and trade shows. Consulting those prospects to determine the best software and hardware package for their business. Creating and tailoring proposals for potential customers. Maintaining touches to prospects and closing sales. Connecting customers and prospects with xTuple's Partner Channel Network. Served as PostBooks® Key Master.