Belgium-based Odoo made a name for itself under its previous name of OpenERP, an open source ERP application that quickly gained traction, especially in Europe. Over the past few years, however, the company has expanded into many more areas of the enterprise application landscape.
According to Fabien Pinckaers, the company’s CEO, Odoo is used by large companies, small businesses, associations and various other types of organizations to help them manage, automate, measure and optimize their operations, finances and projects. OpenERP changed its name to Odoo as Pinckaers saw that it was moving into new territories beyond ERP. With content management, eCommerce and business intelligence (BI) gaining prominence, the ERP moniker was no longer broad enough.
“Integrating your sales floor with inventory, accounting and manufacturing plant is one thing, but we think modern companies deserve more than this,” said Pinckaers.
He boasts of the company’s more than 3,000 apps and its out-of-the-box integration. For example, it integrates point of sale, eCommerce, sales, reporting, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, timesheets, financials and accounting.
The name Odoo itself may be a puzzle to some, but it is based partly on whim and partly on an analysis of startups names. Apparently, the more Os you have in your name, the more successful you tend to be. Think Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, to name a few.
What’s New in Odoo?
Odoo is already up to version 9. Recently added features include a streamlined point of sale (POS) system. The previous version was a little complex when it came to setting up external hardware, and users were forced to buy expensive wireless scanners and printers. Odoo, therefore, has introduced better hardware at an affordable price in a solution called the PosBox. It is about the size of a cellphone and connects to the network and where point-of-sale peripherals are plugged in. This simplifies setup. It works with any laptop, PC or tablet. Wireless support lets you move around freely while running the application.
Odoo 9 comes with a wealth of new features which are split into four general categories:
- Websites: The revised website builder makes it easier to design pages and provides improve usability. In addition to websites, it includes applications for forums, ecommerce, blogs, slides and an app that optimizes Google AdWords performance, which is said to increase clicks and leads by more than 40 percent.
- Sales: This category encompasses sales, CRM, invoicing, POS, subscriptions and an app to transmit, sign and approve documents online.
- Operations: This is the heart of the old OpenERP suite, though it has been updated considerably. Modules include accounting, project management, Human Resources (HR), inventory, purchasing and manufacturing.
- Productivity: These tools include communication, timesheet, email marketing events, surveys and live chat.
Due to the open source model of Odoo, it is able to leverage thousands of developers to build more than three hundred new apps per month in 23 languages. The company claims 2 million business users with Toyota among them.
There are several versions of Odoo available.
- Free: This is meant for those with less than 50 users and only covers one app. However, you can use this app for unlimited users. As it is self-service, it may not be practical to attempt to use it with too many users. That said, all Odoo apps are now free on Odoo Online, as long as you use only one app. This includes unlimited users on the cloud.
- Online: This costs $25 per user per month and again, is meant for less than 50 users. In this case, it is serviced by Odoo using a pay as you grow model.
- Enterprise: This remains $25 per user per month but is aimed at organizations requiring 5oo or more users. Service is provided by a partner.
Compared to the other two versions, the free community version lacks upgrades, bugfix guarantees, mobile functionality, various enterprise accounting features (dashboard, dynamic reports, bank interfaces, statement imports, check printing) and in general offers “lite” versions of many Odoo apps.
Odoo is helped by the Odoo Community Association (OCA). This nonprofit promotes the widespread use of Odoo and supports collaborative development of features. It also provides financial, organizational and legal support to the Odoo Open Source community.
The community offers online demos, downloads, a fast way to compare the various editions, a help desk, a forum, user guides and more for those that just want to use the apps. There are also sections specifically for the many developers and partners engaged with the company.
Pinckaers claims that Odoo Accounting outperforms Quickbooks and Sage in features and usability, while Odoo CRM is said to be an improvement over Salesforce. With the availability of hundreds of Odoo apps in the cloud for free, the company intends to take on many of the big boys of the enterprise application landscape and move its user base from 2 million up to 10 million.
“Before Odoo, the only options to integrate all your applications were complex implementation projects through services such as SAP, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics,” said Pinckaers. “Now, you can integrate all your business apps. The quality of most Odoo applications outperforms the top players in each category.”
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in Florida, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).