Odoo Open Days 2014

Phillip Warwick

Odoo: The Future of Business Management Systemsodoo

Odoo started its days as TinyERP, a system built on the same ideals as the subsequently named OpenERP and Odoo. An ideal of Open Source software providing business system solutions in a flexible and maintainable way. Its strength is drawn from the clear direction that Odoo as a company leads the project and over 20,000 community contributors. By the nature of Open Source Odoo is completely customisable, allowing the system to meet your needs, rather than you changing to meet the system's workflows.


What's in a name?

As you will see from our site and all over the web, the name "Odoo" is a recent change from OpenERP. So why the change? Fundamentally, it was a case of asking, "Does the name make sense for the product?" With the ever increasing capabilities of the system, to refer to Odoo as an ERP was a limitation. It potentially blocked markets. For the smaller business that didn't want a full ERP solution straight away, at first glance it would seem far beond their needs. As a project, it does more than a traditional ERP system, so again, the name suggested a limitation of functionality to the system.

Enter Odoo. The primary thing with Odoo as a word, is that it is a blank slate: it doesn't mean anything. That means it is free of connotations and preconceptions, and can build its own meaning, its own associations. At present, these associations are looking to be many and in high regard, as the number and quality of system apps (or modules) continues to expand and improve.


The New Business Apps Model

Since Odoo is not to be considered just an ERP any more, how do we consider the system and its legion of modules? Firstly, we look at what Odoo is at its core. It is a framework which you can attach modules of functionality to. This is why having ERP in the name is something of a misnomer: it doesn't have to be an ERP system. It could be used just for timesheet entry and project management; it could be used for stock management and asset handling; it could be used to run an international, multicompany, multicurrency corporation with a staff of thousands and a multitude of business stratagems and products.

With this in mind, we can consider Odoo itself a business solution system, and each aspect of business functionality to be its apps (where before they were modules).  To a business, this level of flexibility and ease of use is invaluable. This app based structure allows you to build as simple or as complicated a system as your business requires, or build it in stages and adjust to developing needs.

Due to its Open Source licensing and attitudes, you can have an incredibly powerful business system for free. Odoo is released under the AGPL, meaning there are no repeat license fees to use the software.

Odoo Conference RoomThe Open Days

Firstly, I would advise anyone attending the next Open Days to take a friend. There is so much information, so many workshops, and so many people to speak with that one person's time will be filled with useful activities and still not see everything. This was my experience and, as an Odoo Partner, my focus was on what the re-branding means to the projects and - most importantly - our clients. All in all, it is positive.

The re-branding marks a new age for Odoo, and Open Source Business tools in general. With the growing popularity of OpenERP, its increased uptake in businesses, and swift growth in size and contributors, it came at an ideal time. Odoo's commercial viability is proven by over 2 million users, serving innumerable SMEs and even international companies such as Danone, Canonical, and Singer.

For the project itself there have been numerous changes. For developers and contributors, they have not only migrated their version control from bzr to git, giving the technically inclined increased collaboration benefits, but have also merged the server and addon repositories, making it even easier to contribute to the project. They have also brought in the ability for a developer to pull the project and all dependencies with a single command, again improving the ease of access for developers.

From a functional point of view there is a number of apps available/coming with version 8 that open whole new aspects of business systems, and set Odoo apart from its competitors and allow us to consider it more than an ERP. Chief amongst these new additions are the apps that allow you run a website connected directly to Odoo by making it part of the system. There is now a full web framework in place, allowing for apps such as Website CMS, eCommerce, and Blogs. From credativ's experience, the most common web presence requirement for our clients has been an eCommerce platform. By integrating this directly with Odoo, you gain the benefit of maintaining a single product database, real time stock level updates, and full stock move/sales/invoice audit trails and reporting from a single system.

Combined with the ever advancing functionality in Odoo such as Sales, CRM, Purchase management, Project management, and many more (details of which can be found here), few systems have the power and spectrum of functionality of Odoo.

We shall continue following and working on Odoo - especially with the imminent arrival of version 8 - and shall, as ever ensure that we are on the forefront of knowledge and expertise with this, in oder to give our clients the best service available.

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