Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting started with Openbravo




This document provides a list of resources for people evaluating or getting started with Openbravo ERP.
NOTICE: We are in the process of updating this page please go to the forum "Getting Started" page - your opinions please for more information.

About Openbravo

What Openbravo ERP can do

Modules at Openbravo ERP

Evaluating Openbravo ERP

In order to optimize the time you invest in discovering Openbravo, we recommend that you follow the following approach.
  1. Start with the on-line demo. This is a very easy way to get your hands on the product and start exploring its capabilities. You can follow our step by step tutorials to experience some of the main business flows.
  2. Install a Community Appliance. Since the on-line demo is a shared demo environment, there are some limitations on what you can do with it. In particular, we cannot give you system administrator privileges and we are refreshing the system on a daily basis. If you want to evaluate Openbravo's flexibility and experiment with different configurations, or if you want to have a persistent data set to complete your evaluation, you need your own system. The easiest way to get one, is to install a Community Appliance which is intended to allow you to get a full Openbravo ERP server for evaluation purposes with minimal installation hassles.
  3. Once you have completed your evaluation, you are ready to start your implementation project, either with the Community Edition or with the Professional Subscription.
Starting a new project
Understanding Openbravo Releases
Forums and FAQ's
As many open source project, Openbravo ERP has its own Forge where our Community collaborates around the project. There you can access the project forums and review on going projects to extend the ERP functionality through modules, integrate it with external solutions, or to deliver services around it.
For Frequently Asked Questions, visit Openbravo FAQ. This repository of questions is updated every day with Openbravo forum posts.

Full installation guide

Openbravo installation has two different flavors.
Openbravo ERP virtual appliances
Openbravo ERP virtual appliances are a quick and easy manner of setting up Openbravo ERP for testing or development purposes since environment stack is already included and configured.
Openbravo ERP custom installation
Openbravo ERP custom installation is the mean to install Openbravo ERP in a production environment. This way of installation, requires a previous installation and configuration of the whole environment stack.
Openbravo ERP upgraders
Openbravo ERP can be upgrade from several versions to newer ones using a graphical assistant.

Functional documentation

In the link below you can find the functional documentation of Openbravo ERP. The purpose of this documentation is to describe, from a logical stand point, what business processes and what functions are supported in the product and how they are implemented. This documentation gives you a very good idea of what can be achieved with the product; it is NOT, however, a detailed step by step implementation guide or a user guide

Configuration manual

In the link below you can find a document that explains how to set up the ERP in order to succeed working with Openbravo ERP. This is a step by step manual and very useful. Still in progress

Developing with Openbravo

The Openbravo development environment includes a mix of tools and methodologies that make Openbravo developers' life easier.
  • Openbravo Developers Guide: a detailed guide on setting up your development environment, understanding the system architecture and how to build new features.

How to contribute to Openbravo

There are many ways to make Openbravo ERP a better product.

QA process. Acceptance testing

Openbravo QA team makes sure that all the releases have a minimum quality.
Whenever a a release is launched, an acceptance process is executed.
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Openbravo ERP documentation walkthrough

You watched the introductory video and the customer success stories, you overviewed the product features, the solutions and the services around, you tried the demos… and you liked it! What is the next step? What else can Openbravo do for you?
Openbravo Wiki is the documentation repository around Openbravo ERP: hundreds of articles covering topics such as the installation, the localization and the development of this product. Don’t get lost among this vast number of free resources: these are the key articles that you can not miss.
  1. The Functional Documentation will help you to better understand the functional footprint of Openbravo ERP: Procurement, Manufacturing and Sales flows, Financial concepts and Platform related topics such as Modularity or Alerts are some of the topics covered.
  2. The Openbravo ERP demo is nice, but you want to have the absolute control over Openbravo ERP installed into your local machine. The Installation Guide details the steps to install Openbravo ERP by yourself, depending on your expertise: Virtual Appliance and Ubuntu installation for beginners and Custom installation for experts (including the installation of the Openbravo ERP environment stack made of the Sun JDK, Apache Ant, Oracle or PostgreSQL databases and Apache Tomcat).
  3. Once you installed Openbravo ERP, you would like to know how to use it. The User Manual will tell you the meaning of every single window, tab and field within Openbravo ERP.
  4. Now that you have an understanding of your Openbravo ERP installation from an end-user perspective, let’s configure it following the steps of the Configuration Manual: model your enterprise, setup accounting, taxes, roles and users, import your legacy data, etc…
  5. Your Openbravo ERP installation is now nicely configured and running smoothly, but you want to get more: let’s develop it! The Developer’s Guide, presented some time ago by Martin Taal, will provide you with theory and examples to take advantage of the Openbravo open source platform. No more excuses not to develop Openbravo ERP extensions and localizations! :)
  6. Doubts and questions? Resolve them contacting other Openbravo ERP users in the Openbravo Communication Channels: free mailing lists, forums and IRC channels open 24/7 to the Openbravo Community.
  7. Now that you are an Openbravo ERP expert, would you like to contribute to this open source project and help growing its Community? Take a look at the Contributor’s Guide to discover how you can help other Openbravo ERP users.
Seven must read articles have been presented but there are many others: find them using the built in Mediawiki search engine, the Google Custom search engine or external tools such as Ubiquity, presented by Iván Perdomo some days back.
The topic that you were looking for is incomplete, out of date or does not even exist? Openbravo ERP documentation is evolving and growing daily: you are welcome to provide your feedback, opinions and requests for improvement.
Enjoy Openbravo ERP documentation on-line or download it all with ScrapBook as explained by Galder Romo: c’mon, it’s free!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ERP solutions for the Construction Industry

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” --- Winston S. Churchill.

With the real estate markets shivering in the cold due to economic downturn you may think this is not the right time to talk about ERP solutions for construction industry as most companies will not be even entertain the though of investing in new technology during this trying times. Not to mention when the times were good they were busy constructing and at these bad times they are short of funds to go for top notch ERP solutions in the market. But do construction companies really need the expensive most sort after ERP in the market? Does best ERP necessarily mean best ERP for Construction Industry ? (We will come back to this little later) Paradoxically this may be the best time for construction firms to go in for IT solutions for the simple fact that companies now have time to take stock of the situation, sort out the in efficient past and bring in efficient processes leading to reduced cost, time management and better accountability thereby improving overall quality. This will get them to be ready for the next cycle of good and bad tides.

Let us look into the problems facing construction industry and understand it and later we will see how tailored ERP solutions can go a long way in transforming the construction workers to a force to reckon with.

Problems facing construction industry is not new but probably thousands of years old probably ever since they started building the pyramids. What is so different now are the tools and techniques that can be utilized to get the best usage of its resources and materials and equipments.Construction is a complex array of interdependent activities that some would say is at best organized chaos. The very nature of construction introduces challenges typically not encountered in other industries. For example, construction differs widely from other industries more so as

• Each project is unique
• Often involves remote sites with various access problems
• The process is not as predictable
• Difficulty in applying automation
• There is high potential for encountering unforeseen conditions
• Costs can vary according to conditions
• Difficult to manage and supply utilities and other resources.
• Technical innovations are adopted slower.
• Success is dependent upon the quality of its people.
• Very custom-oriented
• Product can be of mind-boggling size, cost, and complexity
• The work is not performed in controlled conditions, therefore highly impacted by weather and other environmental conditions

All this poses a unique set of challenges as illustrated below.

As seen in the figure it is a herculean task to co-ordinate and integrate all these challenges into one solution. Let’s look into some of the major problems in construction companies who do not have or have partial IT infrastructure.

1. No electronic tracking of tasks. The project manager needs to produce manual daily production report.
2. Budget and controls done using legacy spreadsheets and this is most time consuming task and the employee is overloaded.
3. Each project has its own independent method of encoding.
4. Off-Site locations are not as organized as desired.
5. Material and Equipment usage are hard to track; there is very little writing on site.
6. The project managers do status reports but lack critical information such as
    a. Inventory information
    b. Budgetary information
7. Due to disorganization there is little time for follow up.
8. There is no process for
•    Payment follow ups.
•    Reminders of important issues like raising invoices.
•    Beneficial weekly status report.
•    Petty cash request and reporting
•    Evaluating the performance of the project manager.
9. Ineffective system to incorporate fixed assets into the company books.
10. No clear process to accurately track inventory at multiple sites.
11. Invoices are not raised frequently enough thus contributing to a cash flow problem.

All these issues make the construction projects highly complex and cumbersome to track and control. If we have to successfully manage these complex projects its all the more important the work progress and the resources utilized are measurable. The success of a project will be judged by meeting the criteria of cost, time, safety, resource allocation, and quality as defined during the planning and budgeting of the project.

The purpose of the ERP will be to measure the progress continually at every step of the project so as to achieve goals and objectives through the planned usage of resources that meet the project’s quality, cost, time, scope, and safety requirements. Through the ERP the Project Manager must be in a position to control, deflect, or mitigate the effects of any occurrence or situation that could affect project success.

Tailored ERP solution can lead to

1.    Maximum utilization of company resources
2.    Attain maximum productivity
3.    Effective communication between all departments
4.    Ability to track and analyze each task and operation
5. Tailored Accounting software for Construction Industry
6. Tailored Payroll software for Construction Industry

What these construction companies could typically expect from a tailor made ERP solution is

1. Effective Processes
•    That show the progress, the amount of raised construction invoices, cash-flow, and inventory by projects.
•    Track construction project budgets. To track at an individual project level and at a summary level.
2. To be able record major project tasks over the duration of the project.
3. Accountability at each level of project progress, construction cost planning
4. A system with the least amount of human intervention this is not limited to:
a. Tracking the construction project progress
b. Tracking the production and utilization of resources
c. To send alerts for delay or problems halting the project progress.
5. Each Project phase must be divided into segments for the aiding accountability at every stage. (More on this later in finance)
6. Dashboards and metrics to monitor each level of project progress.
7. Alerts to indicate and to remind the project manager if the project is not on schedule
8. Maintain log on project issues for record keeping and resolution.
9. To have a built in work flow so that it is easy for the user to know what is to be
done next for each task required.

Another corner stone of tailored ERP solution will be the measuring the financials of the project. Any typical construction project is planned and budgeted. Using the ERP it will be possible to compare the planned vs actual value analysis and reporting. To illustrate with an example. Let us assume a hypothetical construction project where the planned project budget is Plan A. This plan will be the bench mark which needs to be followed to attain operational efficiency and completing the project on time within budget. Any deviation from plan A can be tracked through ERP reporting. For instance on delay of any of the tasks will be reported by the respective project managers in the ERP system. The Plan A will be compared with the changed plan as per the changes that had been made and its variance generated in the system. Tasks inter dependencies will be reflected in the system based on the input. For instance Task number 3 cannot start without completion of Task 1 or 45 % of Task 2 etc,. So system will compare generate reports on the start and end dates of each task and compared with the actual work that has been completed. If any task is out of schedule time, the system will generate alarm to remind for its respective teams as well as higher management.

Similarly the system also tracks the planned budget and actual utilization of resources as per budget. This will represent a practical approach to measuring the progress of a project against the plans and this approach is based on variance analysis. This reporting will have numerous advantages as described below.

As shown in the figure above, a project manager may have a budget of $500k to spend on his or her project for the Phase I. At the management meeting, the project manager reports that he or she has spent $490k, or just under the budget. At first glance this appears to be good news as the project is under budget. However, the missing piece of this information is whether the project is on time, or has completed the forecasted work for that phase I.
This is where the ERP can make a difference. The system will measure three dimensions of data to associate project expenditures with project progress. These dimensions provide a complete status, including:

•    Planned value of the work that has been scheduled
•    The actual value of the work that has been accomplished
•    The actual costs incurred in accomplishing the work that has been scheduled

As this reporting takes into account the budgeted value of the work planned, as well as the actual value of the work that has been completed, in addition to the costs incurred. If the project is behind schedule, for instance, it may also be over budget even though only $490k of the budgeted $500k has been spent. This may be the case if individual tasks cost more than has been budgeted. In other words, the project may still be over budget because the $490k that has been spent has not achieved the work that the money was budgeted for.

By calculating the cost of the work actually performed, the expected cost of the work that was performed, and the actual value of the work performed, project managers, will have the means of linking schedule and cost performance. This will tell the full story of project progress as measured against project budgets in turn monitored and controlled by the top management. This gives a complete method of measuring and controlling project performance, as well as a means of predicting future performance based on progress to date, making it well worth of the ERP implementation.


Now is that it is clear that implementation of ERP solution can have huge benefits for the construction industry. How do the companies make sure they choose the right ERP software for construction industry?

The major problem many construction companies face after choosing the best ERP software in the market ,it is not flexible enough to meet their needs. For example a particular company may  lay emphasis on their construction billing software,another on business planning, electronic storage, some  on infrastructure, the point is no two companies are the same and by forcing them to utilize software which is not engineered for their environment there is a high potential for loss of profit and failure of the ERP solution. Companies need to maintain their competitive edge and to due so they are lead to believe a best practices application will lead them in the right direction. Possibly after a few hundred of thousands of dollars in changes they will have the ability to innovate and outsmart their competition. However, there are better choices which do not cause the software companies to loose their valuable time and money hassling with the pre-packaged software.

Now sigh a breath of relief because there are ERP vendors who understand each company needs and have been pioneering the art of tailored ERP solutions. They offer light weight, flexible, affordable and easily installable solutions. These are tailored software solutions according to each industry needs. Tailored solutions are made for the requirements of each organization without the lengthy development periods and difficulty of upgrading. These solutions are agile software solutions for they are highly configurable and offer all of the advantages of a custom software solution along with the best characteristics of a canned software solution. These tailored solutions will have the most success for your organisation, additionally, they will have the capability of growing and changing as your organization continues to do so in an affordable budget compared to pre-packaged expensive ERP solutions.

The author is the Business Analyst of Qualian Technologies Pvt Ltd, a leading software consultancy firm providing tailored ERP solutions for construction industries in India and Middle East. He can be contacted at for further queries and comments.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Choosing the right ERP Solutions

Searching for the correct Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can be a difficult and time consuming task. Not to mention your headaches associated with trying to find a vendor who can complete the task in a fashion that is both flexible, allows for easy installation and is affordable. 

Looking at the basics of an ERP solution. There are no fixed rules (except the ones implied by the large “box” software companies) that say you must have specific modules within your solution. Most companies searching are looking for a solution that will help them organize and streamline their daily procedures. Generally, companies will utilize applications such as project management, scheduling, order entry/processing, preventative maintenance (PM), human resources (HR), customer relations management (CRM) and accounting. Which ever applications are implemented into an ERP solution, they should have the capability of working together to help your business maintain the structure they are looking for.

As per latest poll taken by core ERP modules were used chiefly for  

  1. Accounting and financial applications (96%)

  2. Procurement, order processing and supplier management (78%)

  3. Inventory management (64%) and

  4. HR management and payroll functions (55%).

As per what areas of their business ERP worked best, respondents overwhelmingly cited

  1. Financial (70%)

  2. Procurement, order processing, supplier management (42%)

  3. Inventory management (33%) and

  4. HR management or payroll (26%).

As the poll clearly states one size does not fit all. Each company and industry in general will have different business models and their core modules will differ. It will be difficult to find an ERP solution that will be made specifically for your needs. Most solutions which are available are available in the market is “pre-packaged”.  These are offered by top ERP solution providers as a more standardized package which leads businesses to believe the strictly structured software will allow their business to improve their bottom line as well as productivity. While the software package may warrant some value to your organization it will not work very well for each specific business with out requiring significant changes to the software. For example in the manufacturing industry or construction industries for instance this model will not work because manufactures require agility within their software solutions.

This is a great scheme many large software companies propose to companies who are seeking a new software application. This Best Practices has an overall goal of selling the most software possible without making modifications to the software application. The major problem many companies then begin to face is that the software is not flexible enough to meet their needs. No two companies are the same and by forcing them to utilize software which is not engineered for their environment there is a high potential for loss of profit and failure of the software application. Companies need to maintain their competitive edge and to due so they are lead to believe a best practices application will lead them in the right direction. Possibly after a few hundred of thousands of dollars in changes they will have the ability to innovate and outsmart their competition. However, there are better choices which do not cause the software companies to loose their valuable time and money hassling with the pre-packaged software.

Another model some companies offer are custom solutions which are great because they are designed for the company but are very difficult to upgrade, sometimes they are completely impossible to upgrade. This is discouraging considering the amount of money companies will spend to purchase a solution of this size and not have the capability of changing it as their company changes.

Now sigh a breath of relief because in Qualian Technologies Pvt Ltd we understand each company needs and have been the pioneers in the art of tailored ERP solutions. That is why we offer light weight, flexible, affordable and easily installable solutions. These are tailored software solutions according to your needs. Tailored solutions are made for the requirements of your organization without the lengthy development periods and difficulty of upgrading. These solutions are agile software solutions for they are highly configurable and offer all of the advantages of a custom software solution along with the best characteristics of a canned software solution. Qualian’s tailored solutions will have the most success for your organisation, additionally, they will have the capability of growing and changing as your organization continues to do so.

Our Industry Vertical ERP Solutions include

  • Construction Industry

  • Machinery and Equipment

  • Educational Institutions

  • Health Care

  • Retail Consumer Products

  • Mining

  • Oil and Gas Industry

  • Textile Mills

  • Whole Sale Distribution

Ten Tips for Choosing the right ERP 

  1. Make sure you analyze and define business processes first; then choose the system that will work best for your organization.
  2. Don't forget about training; if people don't know how to use the system, they won't.
  3. Test the system for traffic loads that represent your actual traffic, especially during peak times.
  4. Don't buy all of your ERP systems from one vendor: A best-of-breed approach can work better because not all of one vendor's modules may best fit your needs.
  5. Don't go live with an implementation or upgrade at a crucial time of year (higher ed: avoid the weeks before classes start; retail: avoid the weeks before Christmas).
  6. Make as few modifications to the source codes possible.
  7. Keep an eye on scope creep. It's much worse on campus than in the Fortune 500.
  8. Before you sign a contract with an integrator, have the integrator conduct trials with the software on your systems to see if they will mesh. It costs a bit more, but it's worth it.
  9. Use certified project managers on your staff to run the implementation—not just the person in the room who starts taking notes at the first meeting.
  10. ERP needs constant human interaction to keep it up and running. Ninety-five percent of getting ERP right is social and political skills; 5 percent is the actual technology.