The emergence of low cost and open source software development has helped to bring down the initial cost for ERP software. Thanks to the efforts of several teams of developers in the open source community, today you can download and run fully featured ERP packages or use subscription-based software for virtually no cost. Here is a list of three vendors that offer these low cost ERP options.
More than just an ERP system, Apache OFBiz (Apache Open for Business Project) is a complete enterprise automation suite that also includes CRM, E-Business, and E-Commerce modules. These applications are designed to address the needs of an emerging organization that can benefit from any or all of these feature sets. Licensed along with the Apache 2.0 server, this can be an economical and practical option for organizations that already run that platform.
Compiere is a Java-based application that also supports use in a cloud infrastructure or as a Salesforce add-in. The free version has only community-based support and a limited feature set. Using this free version, it is possible to evaluate the software and explore its potential before making a major commitment. Compiere also has a large list of users and partners that can help with evaluating the software as a potential solution for your business.
As its name suggests, OpenERP is an open source ERP solution. It comes in a complete limited time trial package and a commercial version. You can use OpenERP in either an online or on-site mode, depending on your organization's preferences. As is typical for open source software, there is a strong developer and user community that is available to help with support issues or questions. Even with the free version, there is a support community that can provide answers to your questions in the initial adoption phase.
A popular open source Web-based solution is WebERP. Providing a core set of features in a practical and useful browser-based interface, this package only requires a PDF document reader to get started. Particularly useful for geographically distributed businesses like wholesale and logistics firms, WebERP has a large and growing developer community that is constantly extending the capabilities of the software.
Keep in mind that when considering total cost of ownership, ERP systems often require additional spending for support, training, and custom development. Always factor in the added costs of technical training, customer support, and professional services when evaluating any low cost or open source software solution.