Implementing opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM
This is a general primer on how to implement opentaps, or indeed any large-scale open-source or commercial software, in an organization. Our goal here is not to offer you a step-by-step technical guide, but rather a general roadmap on how to make your implementation project successful.
Before You Start
Implementing an ERP and CRM solution for any company is a complex project. Whether you are implementing for a small office or large multinational organization, we recommend you follow the following key steps:
- Understand the requirements. What does the organization actually do, and how would the people like to do it? Who would be using the system, and what would they do with it?
- Determine the budget, and either stick to it or negotiate with your users. If what they need could not be achieved within the budget.
- Map out the implementation. Once you know what people need, identify how opentaps could in general support those requirements. Identified what modules and features would be used.
- Do a pilot implementation which involves setting up and configuring opentaps based on the known requirements and the proposed implementation plan. Have real users try it and get their feedback. Frequently, you will uncover new requirements during this phase.
- With user feedback, make changes to the system.
- Do successive rounds of pilots until users are satisfied with the system.
- Train users on the new system.
- Move data over from existing systems.
- Rollout new system.
Along the way, it is important to protect yourself against the risk of a failed implementation. The key reasons for failed implementations are:
- Failure to understand business requirements. If you don’t know what you need to do, you probably can’t do it correctly.
- Lack of user acceptance. You can’t force people to use your system. Make sure they like using it, or change the system. (Fortunately, opentaps is easy to change or add to.)
- Becoming too ambitious. When you're moving to a new system, especially an open source one like opentaps that could be customized to meet any requirements, it can be very easy to get overambitious and try to solve every single problem in the organization. This is also a time when a lot of pent-up demand for improvements could suddenly appear from every group in your organization, hoping more demanding that the new system solve all their problems right away. Resist the urge to solve every problem. Focus on the "low hanging fruit" first, the immediately achievable goals which would deliver significant value to your organization. Get the system up and running as soon as possible, and build confidence in it for your entire organization. Then you will have the support you need to roll out incremental enhancements over time.
- Lack of contingency plans. For critical business processes, devise contingency plans or workarounds in case the system is not up and running in time, or if there are problems after the system is up and running. Consider keeping the existing system to run in parallel or devise other workarounds.
A successful implementation is simply meeting your users' needs within your allotted budget.
The Implementation Checklist
Before getting started, you need to find out key information about how your organization operates. This may involve meetings or interviews with all the people who will be using opentaps. This list is by no means exhaustive but rather serves as a starting point to organize your implementation:
- What is your company’s inventory costing method: LIFO, FIFO, or average cost?
- What is your company’s accounting year end month and date?
- Obtain a chart of accounts for your company and compare it to the default ones.
- Stores and Sales Policies
- Identify each physical and online store which sells your products.
- What types of products are sold? Physical goods? Digital downloads? Physical goods with variants? Configurable products?
- What categories are the products grouped into?
- What sales taxes are charged for your store?
- Which customers are exempted from sales tax?
- What are the shipping rates for your stores? Are they based on flat fees, percentage of order, or live rate carrier rate estimates?
- What methods of payments are accepted, and what credit card processor or payment gateways is it compatible with?
- Would you like to send emails to confirm orders and keep customers informed of order status?
- Do you offer special pricing to each customer or to groups of customers?
- How are inventory reserved against orders?
- Do you pay sales commission? If so, to whom? What are the commission schedules and rates?
- Order Processing
- When are orders approved?
- Do you accept back orders?
- If a customer’s payment method cannot be captured, will you still ship to customers?
- Do you offer some customers credit?
- Do you accept returns?
- Do you give refunds or store credits for customer returns?
- Do you refund shipping charges?
- Do you charge re-stocking fees on returns?
- Make a list of all of your vendors, and the products you purchase from them, including the prices, minimum quantities, and vendor specific descriptive information
- How is purchasing planned?
- Do you drop ship from your vendors?
- What terms do you have with your vendors?
- Define your products bill of materials (BOMs) and production steps.
- Define machine or fixed assets used for manufacturing.
- Do you use push (MRP) or pull (on demand) production planning?
- Define all warehouses where your company stores inventory
- Do you have separate locations in your warehouse which are designated as packing versus storage areas?
- Do you host third party inventory?
- Do you transfer inventory between your warehouses?
- Do you have products which carry serial numbers (like a laptop) or lot numbers (like orange juice)?
- How are orders “picked” from the warehouse? What is the process for obtaining items which have been ordered from the warehouse?
- How are orders packed and prepared for shipping?
- How are orders scheduled for shipping?
- Which carriers do you use to ship outgoing orders?
- Customer Service
- What e-mail address do you use for customer service requests and e-mails?
- How are customer service requests received and processed?
You should also have the following information ready:
- List of users and their roles
- Shipping rates charged
- Payment processor credentials
- Shipper (UPS, FedEx, DHL) credentials
- Categories of products
- Your organization's logo
The pilot should be a series of meetings where you train your users to use opentaps. A successful implementation should have at least one but possibly several pilots, until the user is sufficiently satisfied with the system. When you pilot the system to actual users, note their reactions and their requests for enhancements, but do not rush to make all the changes requested by every user. Instead, estimate the time and effort required for all the changes and negotiate with the key decision-makers about them. Some changes will be trivial, and you should make those to accommodate your users' needs. Others may require major reworkings of the internals of the system, which would significantly increase the cost and time required to implement opentaps. Finally, some other requests may simply be bad ideas that should be rejected outright.
We recommend that you go through all the following processes during your pilot:
- Setting up products
- Purchasing, including using Material Resources Planning and creating purchase orders
- Sales order entry
- Customer service
- Order fulfillment, including picking, packing, and shipping
- Returns and refunds
- Online store features