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Open source start-up updates its ERP suite for SMBs

TinyERP is targeting smaller organizations with the latest release of its enterprise resource planning suite.

Thinking small -- small business, that is -- Tiny ERP is taking a small and midsized business-friendly approach to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Even though the company only has 12 implementations under its belt, its ERP suite -- also named Tiny ERP -- is a mature entity, said founder Fabien Pinckaers, a fact he says is demonstrated in the release of a new 3.0 version.

Pinckaers believes that no other commercial ERP software suite was designed with such a simple structure from the very beginning. Tiny ERP 3.0, he said, adds the final piece -- MRP -- that makes it a complete package for SMBs. In this interview, he discusses Tiny ERP's dedication to SMBs and 3.0's enhancements.

How does Tiny ERP v3.0 compare to other ERP systems? Are there any gaps?

Fabien Pinckaers: It's difficult to compare. Tiny ERP is very different. Everything has been reinvented for the SMB's needs; things like double-entry stock management, specific interfaces and so on.

In a few words, Tiny ERP v3.0 is simple, running on 400k; flexible in all domains; powerful; and has lots of modules, better modules for SMBs.

I always thought that current ERP doesn't fit to an SMB's needs. Tiny ERP does!

There are always more things to do. The main thing we have to work on is the multiple currency feature. It will be finished in three weeks, at which time Tiny ERP will support most currencies. The module we have to improve is the reporting in the accounting module, but it works very good in production.

Learn more about open source ERP:

Special Report: Getting resourceful with ERP on Linux

Case Study: Hugger-Mugger fixes goofed open source ERP implementation

How many organizations are using Tiny ERP?

Pinckaers: It's difficult to say (because of free downloads). We've made 12 installations ourselves, mainly in France and Belgium.

The small number of installation is due the small team we are. We are now seven, with one more employee joining every month. We are growing very quickly and get more than five requests per day. That's why we are building our partner network.

Tiny ERP is stable because it has been in production for four years. But the open source project is very young, as we made the first Web site for it in March 2005.

What types of organizations are a good fit for Tiny ERP?

Pinckaers: Tiny ERP is very good for production, complex stock and vertical markets, such as pharmaceutical companies, auction houses, libraries, services companies and schools.

The new 3.0 version of Tiny ERP includes a production module based on MRP. What are the benefits brought by that feature?

Pinckaers: The advantages of the MRP module are better reordering policy, which decreases stock; better knowledge of their cost structure, which is very useful for after-sale services; better processing of (urgent orders); and high-level traceability. The MRP module will probably evolve during the first installation, planned in two weeks.

What benefits might Tiny ERP 3.0's multilingual data management capabilities bring to IT managers of global companies?

Pinckaers: Our multilingual system allows users to mark each field as multilingual, so each user works in his own language. It lets users import and export translated files to a spreadsheet, too.

We also support very difficult languages, like Chinese. We currently have 13 languages available.

Some IT managers have told me that integrating existing applications with ERP solutions is tough. How does Tiny ERP 3.0 address this issue?

Pinckaers: Tiny ERP 3.0 is simpler than other ERP software and interfaces with all applications. For example, you can produce your proposals in a .pdf or open it in Microsoft Office or OpenOffice for modifications. Tiny ERP has import/export tools and interfaces with e-commerce applications in XML-RPC.

What enterprise-level open source applications work well with Tiny ERP v3.0?

Pinckaers: The PostgreSQL database does, as we have built our own object database over PostgreSQL, and so does OpenOffice.

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