OpenMFG Introduces Upgraded Version of Namesake Suite

The open-Source ERP developer adds long-awaited CRM functionality in the second edition of its OpenMFG.

Open-source ERP software developer OpenMFG announced Oct. 31 the second edition of its namesake software. The upgraded suite brings new global, vertical and horizontal enterprise-resource-planning functionality, as well as long-awaited new software: open-source customer relationship management.

The CRM module was the feature most requested by OpenMFG customers, according to Ned Lilly, the companys CEO.

"The new CRM module is the beginning of some major new horizontal functionality across multiple industries," said Lilly in Norfolk, Va.

The module includes Incident Management for tracking and managing customer communications and trouble tickets. This capability is integrated with some traditional manufacturing capabilities: lot and serial number inventory history and billing, as well as manufacturing scheduling. The Incident Management application also is integrated with To-Do Manager, new functionality in the 2.0 suite that manages to-do tasks on a person-by-person basis.

A universal address book stores contact information in one place but allows users to classify the contact under various parameters, including prospect, customer, vendor or competitor.

On the ERP front, OpenMFG has added multicurrency support, which should help companies with operations outside the United States better utilize open-source software for basic manufacturing operations. With the upgrade, currency rate conversions are posted to a variance account in the general ledger so any fluctuations—between order time and receipt of payment for example—are maintained in the system.

A Master Production Schedule and Forecast capability helps users to better plan sales and operations by product or product family.

/zimages/4/28571.gifOpenMFG offers ERP basics and more. Click here to read this Labs review.

The developers working on OpenMFG also have brought in some lean manufacturing concepts with a Buffer Management capability that lets users define buffers around time, inventory and capacity. By defining buffers, users are able to better prioritize manufacturing schedules, officials said.

John Rogelstad, director of operations for The Marena Group, wrote the Buffer Management program and submitted it to the OpenMFG community, where it was picked up for the 2.0 edition.

"We were already using the concepts of production scheduling before OpenMFG," said Rogelstad, in Lawrenceville, Georgia. "When we switched to OpenMFG, I really missed that, so before we even turned it on, I wrote the program. We couldnt operate without it. It allows us to handle a really complex array of products and get what we need to production very quickly. It essentially prioritizes work that is changing all the time."

Because OpenMFG is an open-source suite, about 90 percent of the upgrades to the 2.0 version were developed either by a customer or underwritten by a customer—with additional work from an OpenMFG partner or the company itself, company officials said.

That community input is growing.

Rogelstad said that in the year his company has been using OpenMFG, he has seen the community grow about 40 percent. While The Marena Group originally championed adding CRM functionality—and had planned to help fund the project—Rogelstad said he wound up spending the money on another project. Nonetheless, hes happy with the functionality thats been introduced.

"They did a nice job of making it CRM a universal system," said Rogelstad. "But its young and green. They are going to have to do a lot of work to get it up to the functionality of other CRM systems. But theyve got a nice start."

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