In a recent Knowledge @ Wharton Podcast, Tom Hanrahan, Director of Linux Interoperability at Microsoft, speaks with Wharton Legal Studies and Business Ethics Professor Kevin Werbach about Open Source and Microsoft. The discussion was very good as it will help educate and guide businesses in how they should consider implementing open source solutions compared to Microsoft solutions in their business.
The ideal way to implement open source is to ensure you have a solid partner to implement and support your open source installation. Before even considering open source or some other technology an overall layout of your business processes, problems and possible solutions is critical.
For example, Atlanta-based Southern Book Company (SBC) has successfully implemented a hosted version of the Compiere, Inc’s open source ERP solution. They experienced increased net margins of 10 percent and more than doubled revenue by integrating the company’s accounting, distribution and inventory management functions across various U.S.-based warehousing operations.
I think the reason their implementation was successful that SBC worked with Compiere partner KnowledgeBlue, an open source services provider, to identify the company’s ERP needs.
Why is ERP so important for growing businesses? Well when you have various aspects of your business that must all rely on each other for success an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system is critical.
SBC has experienced a marked improvement in productivity across its warehouses due to order management functions within Compiere. When orders arrive, they are now entered into Compiere, on-hand inventory is confirmed, and pick tickets are printed. When inventory is ready for shipment, the pick ticket is scanned and the shipping data for each order is transmitted to the third party shipper’s system. Invoices are also automatically created using the same data, reducing data entry requirements and the potential for billing errors. As an added benefit, SBC’s customers can now monitor their inventory through remote system access, a process that presented security concerns prior to implementing this new system.
There’s three lessons learned here:
1. Open source works and is a viable solution for smaller businesses
2. Having a technology solution provider who can assist is critical
3. Integrating your business processes is increasingly important.