Which ERP Solution

ERP Solutions for Small Business – Which One?

ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions are the next step up from a basic accounting package.

An ERP system integrates internal and external management information across an entire organization; finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales and service, customer relationship management, etc. ERP systems automate this activity with an integrated software application. The purpose of ERP is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization… (Wikipadia.org)

ERP Solutions are not for everyone. First of all they are much more complicated to set-up and get working, and a a lot harder to use somatimes too. They can also cost a lot of money. Most small business owners may be satisfied with a basic accounting system, e.g. Quickbooks or similar. But what about the business profesional starting his (or her) own small enterprise, but coming form a corproate or large business envirnment: Such person will be used to a fully integrated system to manage all aspects of the business from a central point, using a single software application.

Comparing Three ERP Solutions

Let’s compare three of the best Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions available to South African (and other) entreprenuers:

  • SAP or SAP Business One
  • Pastel (Sage) Evolution ERP
  • OpenERP

SAP and SAP Business One

sap business one logo SAP is no doubt the one most business professionals are familiar with, or at least heard of. SAP is a top enterprise grade application for business mangement. It is rock solid, coompletely stable and well supported throught the world. SAP runs on an Oracle based Unix/Linux server and  database, so there are no concerns about quality. It is browser based, and any operating system can be used when accesing the systemIt also comes at an enterprise grade price – in South Africa it’s outrageously expensive, and beyond the means of the small to medium business.

Pastel Evolution

sage pastel evolution erp logoPastel Evolution ERP (also known these days as Sage Evolution) is strong contender for SAP. Evolution ERP includes nearly all the features of SAP Business One, and is modular – meaning you pay only for the features required. It is somewhat cheaper than SAP initially, although the annual licence fees increase the financial burden. Pastel Evolution runs only on Microsoft systems, MS Server and MS SQL database, adding further cost to the application, although for a limited number of users it will work perfectly on a MS SQL Desktop installation. Evolution is the system I am most familiar with, having maintained and used it for a number of years.


openerp logoOpen ERP was the find of the year for me in 2011. Starting a small business without a decent financial management system in place was not a great idea as far as I was concerned, and a very limited budget put Evolution and SAP way beyond my pocket. Read more here

Open ERP has all the features required in a modern enterprise resource planning application, and is OpenSource!. OpenERP runs on Linux, Unix and Windows. The database is Postgre SQL – perhaps the one thing that may cause problems for anyone wanting to install this app on a shared hosting Apache server (where MySQL is most common).

OpenERP comes in three flavours; The Community version (the one I use) which is totaly free to download and install, but there is no support provided by OpenERP.com. Then there’s the Enterprise Edition with full support, including for custom modules, and OpenERP Online hosted by OpenERP, but custom modules are not permitted. OpenERP Online works much like WordPRess.com – custom modules are not permitted for the same reasons; causing bugs and security issues for other users…

OpenERP Enterprise Edition costs a bit more than the annual licence fee for a 5 client Pastel Evolution with CRM and all the additions that match OpenERP features, while the online option is much more economical at around R400.00 month (less than the cost of a part time bookkeeper!).

Installing OpenERP and Evolution Compared

Installing both OpenERP and Pastel Eveoltion ERP on a windows desktop environment is really esy, using eithe the OpenERP windows installer, or the DVD for Evolution. Seting uo the system on a server is a bit more complicated. Evolution ERP install from the DVD from a Windows installer – OpenERP needs a bit more fiddling with Linux command line to install the various sub-systems needed. Once installed on the server, connecting desktops with OpenERP is quick and easy (well that’s the benefit of Linux Server envirnments). Evolution is the usual hassle of getting the desktops authorised by MS Server, and setting the firewall to alow the desktops to use the app, after which connection continues without further problems.

Comparing Evolution ERP and OpenERP in Use

First off, the interface is different. Evolyion ERP has more of an SAP feel to it than OpenERP. It’s fair to say anyone who’s used one of these systems will convert readily to the other. OpenERP has a much different interface – it’s not difficult to use though – it just takes some aclimatising. The backends of these systems is also very different. For example, adding ledger accounts; Evolution and SAP are reeally easy to add accounts, OpenERP 6 is somewhat less polished. Having said that, once the methodology becomes fimiliar, it’s plain sailing.

OpenERP in South Africa

At present, although there are support people in South Africa for the Community version, these are quite few and far between. However, if using the Enterprise or Online editions, support is taken care of by OpenERP.

I hope to extend my services in 2013 to include technical support for OpenERP Community Edition in SA (time permitting). Right now I don’t feel I’ve spent enough time on the back-end of the system to provide support. The other thing – I just haven’t found any bugs to fix!

How will OpenERP 7 compare

The versions I’ve used are 5 and 6. Version 7 will be released on December 22, 2012. I am looking forward to seeing what’s new, and how well the upgrade process goes tomorrow, and will of course let you know my impressions and experiences.

me on google plus+Mike Otgaar

About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on December 20, 2012, in General News, OpenSource, TECHNOLOGY and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I also came to the same conclusion.. OpenERP makes the most sense especially for SMEs. Thanks for the post

  2. Mike,

    I noticed that you started following my WordPress.com Blog. I will be starting a new Weblog shortly which linked to my Creative WordPress Blog. Your blog has some interesting tips troubleshooting. It looks like you have alot of experience with SEO.

    Stephen Lee Kratcoski: http://stevek1960.wordpress.com

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