December 26, 2005

Open Source ERP for SMEs

Sangeetha Naik writes "ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) software has traditionally been used by large corporates to integrate and automate diverse departments
across the enterprise. For a long time, smaller companies purchased individual accounting and payroll packages and then migrated to expensive
ERP solutions as they grew. Such companies did not have much option
as ERP solutions were costlier and required magnitude and many employees
to justify their use.

Now, with many Open Source softwares being released, it is possible for
SMEs to go in for ERPs at an earlier stage. There are several in the
market including Compiere, ERP5 and Fisterra. Companies have to carefully
study individual requirements and test out these softwares to determine

In this article, I would like to review CK-ERP, an Open Source ERP/CRM
system, ideally suited for use by SMEs. It has a total of 19 modules
including accounting ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivables,
Purchase Order, Sales Order, Quotation, Point of Sale, Human Resource,
Payroll and contact management. It operates as modules running atop
phpGroupWare. This makes it possible for the software to be easily
installed on Internet if employees are in various locations or on
the Intranet for more secure transactions.

Here is a overview of its excellent features.

Customer Billing process

Any company with more than 10 recurring customers should seriously
consider using an ERP(such as ck-ERP) to keep track of payments, work
orders and related accounting. ck-erp has ck-Quote (a Quotation module),
ck-so(Sales order module) and ck-ar (Accounts Receivable module).

  • Sales reps can key in Work Quotations for customers. The CK-Quote
    module allows for easily configurable Quotation templates which can
    be printed or emailed to customers.
  • Sales reps can easily convert the Quotations to Sales Orders when
    work commences. A Sales order serves as a formal record of a work
    order and the terms and condition under which the work is executed
    sent to a customer. This direct conversion from Quotation to Sales
    Order eliminates a lot of extra work typing out docs. However, it
    is possible also to manually enter Sales Orders.
  • At the time of billing, Sales Orders can again be converted to Invoices.
    It is possible to create Invoices with or without Tax. Here again,
    print and email friendly Official invoices can be generated. It is
    also possible to Bulk-Dispatch several invoices at the same time.
  • Want to check out how promptly a customer pays? Simply check the Billing
    history which says when a customer was invoiced and how quickly he
    has paid you. You can also check Billing histories of each Sales order.
  • Once a customer has been invoiced, it is a easy matter to record payment
    receipts. A single invoice can have several payments. For instance
    if a customer is invoiced for $1000, he can pay in parts. It is an
    easy matter to enter part payments against any invoice. You can also
    check out the pending payments - invoice wise, customer wise and even
    company wise. An aging report shows you how much dues you have to
  • All invoice and payments get automatically integrated with the General
    Ledger, making accounting very easy. It is possible to view related
    Journal/Ledger entries for each invoice

You can easily enter customer records and configure various types
of tax. The accounts receivables include Accounts Receivable Aging
reports, Customer Invoice Aging reports and Detailed list of Tax collected.

If you are a Manufacturing company with thousands of customers, you
can consider middle agents like Distributors or C&F agencies as customers
and keep track of their payments using the same software.

The system is multi-currency and multi-user, allowing each module
multiple access levels.

Inventory and Purchase process

Many companies, especially trading and manufacturing companies are
generally swamped with purchase inventory and vendor information.
Keeping track of vendor payments and paying bills in time before credit
collection agencies call is a major source of tension. Here is what
you can do with ck-erp's purchase modules - ck-po(Purchase Order module),
ck-ap(Accounts Payable module) and ck-inv(Inventory module) . Lets
see how a purchase process works.

  • Enter purchase orders to keep track of the service contracts and products
    you have purchased.

  • The moment you receive the purchased products or service, you can
    add it to your inventory using ck-inventory module. Marking goods
    receipt, automatically updates the inventory. You can view your Inventory
    Balance and In/Out History for each product that you have in the Inventory.
    This feature is very useful for Traders and manufacturers. The inventory
    is integrated with the General Ledger, so that increases in the inventory
    also updates the Asset value of your company.
  • When you receive an invoice from the vendor, you can convert the Purchase
    Order into a Vendor Invoice. Maintaining vendor invoices on the system,
    reduces your dependency on the email or paper invoices your vendors
    keep sending you. You can easily manage vendor payments and due dates
    with this system.
  • When you make payments, Record full or part payments made against
    Vendor invoices.
  • You can view at any time, reports on unpaid invoices and aging reports
    on the total amounts due per vendor or per purchase order. The ERP
    gives you an amazing degree of clarity on outgoing dues.
  • You can maintain Vendor database and configure various kinds of taxes.
  • The Inventory lets you maintain product names and numbers, Bin/Location
    information, photos, reorder levels, unit and weight information,
    and 3 different price informations.
  • Inventory adjustments, Assembly information and Alternate Part/Service
    information are some other features of ck-inventory.


The accounts section has practically everything one would want.

The core General Ledger module has the basic Double Entry accounting
system with Ledger and Journal. The interesting aspect of the General
Ledger is that it is the base for the Accounts Receivable, Accounts
Payable, Inventory, Bank and the Payroll modules. The entries from
all these modules ultimately reflect in the General Ledger.

The accounting system has multi-currency support. The admin can set
Standard Remarks for the invoice, purchase orders, Quotations and
so on. The admin can even setup Multiple Ledgers for various divisions.

A Bank Reconciliation module allows you to reconcile bank statements
with ledger entries.

On the flip side of the Accounts module is the fact that it does not
have the yearly Opening and Closing balances. This makes it difficult
to reconcile yearly accounts. A major flaw, which one can hope will
be corrected in the near future.

Point of Sale(POS)

If you are a supermarket with multiple cashier desks and high cash
transactions, you could use this module. Again the Point of Sale module
is integrated with the General Ledger.

The ck-pos module lets cashiers enter Cash Sales, with or without
tax. A good feature of the POS system is that it allows Credit Sales
as well. Useful when customers insist on Purchase on Credit, for example
in high value goods. Any Credit Sales entered by the cashiers have
to be approved by Manager.

The Manager interface to the POS, ck-pos-m allows a manager to remotely
control all the cashier operations from his office.

  • Cashboxes can be setup for each POS counter and each shift. The manager
    can setup staff to work at each counter.

  • The Manager can for instance view Shift End cash balance per Counter
    per shift. . The Manager can for instance view the Shift End cash
    balance at Counter 2 at the end of yesterday's morning shift.
  • Managers can setup special price plans
  • Managers can add Reduction Charges such as special student discounts,
    senior citizen discount or Add-On Charge such as Sunday Surcharges
    or service charges.
  • Managers can configure various payment options for non-cash options
    such as Cash Coupons, Exchange Coupon, Cheques and Credit cards.
  • Taxes such as VAT, GST, PST can be setup.
  • Sales reports

Human Resource Management

HR management software of some sort is required if you have more than
10 employees, and better still if payroll is integrated with the General
Ledger. CK-ERP has excellent HR management features.

  • Manage employee database including name, staff grades and roles, photo,
    address, email, phone and emergency contacts. A good feature in the
    HR software is that you are not limited by the number of phone fields.
    You can enter unlimited records per employee.
  • Employees have their own Staff Self Service , something like a ``My
    Account'', which lets them Apply for Leave, enter Time sheet and
    attendance details and even request for Expense reimbursement. As
    soon as someone applies for leave or for expense reimbursement, their
    supervisor gets an email notification for approval.
  • Timesheet and attendance management. Timesheet can be linked to achievements.
    For example if you are a PC assembling unit, employees can record
    the number of PCs they have assembled per day or per hour. Sales staff
    can enter the sales targets they have achieved.
  • Multiple department support

  • Record Performance Evaluations per employee
  • Expense reimbursement management
  • Leave application and leave management.
  • Payroll management. Automatic/manual payslips via email. Bank statement
    for payroll.

CRM and Contact Management

CK-ERP's latest addition is the CRM package.

  • CK-CRM offers Helpdesk management and Sales contact management(for
    pre-sales) in a neat package all integrated with the central Customer
    database. Sales reps can track the sales calls and the sales contacts
    made. Customer relation executives can check the help calls and the
    Helpdesk contacts made with each customer.
  • The HelpDesk system is especially beautiful. Customer relation executives
    can view the entire Call case History Log per HelpDesk call, record
    the customer's state of mind(furious, angry, pleased, excited), media(email,
    phone call, meeting) and the status of contact(research, resolution,
    followup, closed) Monitoring officers can be set for each ticket.
    Priorities(high, neutral low) and case categories(complaint, suggestion,
    bug report) can be setup for each call .
  • The CRM is integrated with Quotation, Sales Order and the Invoice
    modules as well. This makes it very powerful. Customer Relation executives
    and Sales reps can check for instance the credit rating of the customer,
    the number of times he has been Quoted, billing histories and payment
  • Customer Contracts can be recorded
  • Credit Limits can be set per customer

CK-CRM also includes a Contact module for organizational contacts
and individual contacts."


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