The purpose of this page is to answer frequently asked iDempiere, open source ERP, questions.

What is iDempiere?

iDempiere is a mid-tier open source ERP system. It is completely free to download, play with, and put into production. iDempiere is written in Java, and it typically runs on top of a PostgreSQL database.

What is ERP?

ERP is a really bad acronym which stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP is short of “put everything you need to run a business into a single software system”. ERP typically includes accounting, order management, inventory management, invoicing, receiving, inspection, manufacturing, expense management, human resources, etc…

Who uses iDempiere?

In my experience, the most common uses of iDempiere are:

  • Wholesale and retail distribution
  • Light manufacturing and outsourced manufacturing
  • Service industries
  • Project accounting industries like construction accounting

The typical user of iDempiere is a medium-sized company ranging between $10M USD to $400M USD. They usually have a talented IT and Financial staff. I have helped companies as small as $2M USD successfully launch iDempiere. I have helped companies larger than $500M successfully operate on the iDempiere code base.

Who runs the project – How does iDempiere continue to exist?

iDempiere is a community driven and supported open source project. It has no one corporate entity backing it. Carlos Ruiz, Low Heng Sin and Thomas Bayen have been the long-term stewards of the project. They are also the driving force in forking iDempiere from ADempiere.  The success of the iDempiere project is largely attributable to its community (largely including Carlos, Low and Thomas). The community strikes a nice balance in knowledge, skills and attitude. It is a goal of the project to achieve 100% participation by its community. Participation includes:

  • Architectural design
  • Release management
  • Financial donations
  • Sponsored development
  • Code contributions
  • Documentation
  • Testing
  • Feedback
  • Support
  • More…

In short, I am a big fan of the iDempiere leaders and community, and the project is moving very quickly.

Where did iDempiere come from?

The iDempiere code base started in 1999 as a project named Compiere. Openbravo was the first organization/project to fork the code around 2004. ADempiere forked the Compiere code base in 2006. iDempiere forked the ADempiere code base in 2011. Since iDempiere’s inception, the project has moved with steady and consistent speed.

What is the iDempiere Technology Stack?

  • Code: Java 11
  • Databases: PostgreSQL 11 and Oracle (there are few reasons to use Oracle)
  • UI: zk and swing – zk (also known as the WebUI) is by far the more popular UI platform. The swing interface was created in 1999, and the community continues to support it.
  • Application server:  Jetty
  • Plugin Architecture: OSGi
  • UI Layout: Application Dictionary

What is the Best Way to Get Started?

iDempiere Quick Start Guide

How do you install iDempiere?

How to install iDempiere

How much does iDempiere cost?

iDempiere is free to download, prototype and put into production. The external installation costs depend on the complexity of your domain and your on-staff talent vs. how much integration effort you outsource. I have seem a $5M online retailer go-live with an external cost of $5K USD. The owner of the business was both technical and accounting savvy. I have seen a multi-org, multi-site, multi-national manufacturer go-live for $100K USD.

Please remember there is a difference between a budget to ensure success and the expected external expense. You are best served to budget between $20K USD if you are smaller ($10M USD Revenue) and less complex to $120K if you are larger ($100M USD revenue) and more complex. This budget should cover the basics of ERP implementation (learn, configure, audit, and deploy) plus incidental and unexpected expenses along the way.

Here is an expense and ROI comparison with proprietary ERP. The single biggest question I get about this ROI is “where does the iDempiere expense come from?” The average person believes the open source ERP cost is projected too high. The first answer is partly that I over estimated to be fair. The second answer is that people will often customize an open source ERP more than they will a proprietary system.

What is the best way to Learn iDempiere and ADempiere?

teach an on-line class that covers how to learn, configure and audit open source ERP. It uses iDempiere as the reference ERP.  Here are the course frequently asked questions. I have learned much over the last fourteen years, and I have much to share. I look forward to seeing you there!!

Why consider Open Source ERP?

Open source ERP gives you every opportunity to prove or disprove its ability to support your company’s ERP needs on a timeline that satisfies your organizational needs. With open source ERP, you do not face the same financial constraints nor do you face the same conflicts of interest as with commercial ERP. Instead, you invest in the appropriate skills and knowledge for your people and processes. Best of all – if open source ERP cannot solve your company’s needs, you can safely justify spending the additional $2K to $5K per person per year for life of your commercial ERP to help drive your organization’s success.

Open Source ERP Round Rug Effect

Open Source ERP has what I call a “Round Rug Effect”. If you were to liken the ERP evaluation process to a 10′ x 10′ room, the story would go something like this:

  • Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft are a 10′ x 10′ ERP rug in a ten by ten foot room. They cover the room nicely. You will be hard pressed to find a feature or a use case that they do not cover.
  • Open Source ERP is like a 10′ round rug in a ten by ten foot room. It will cover the vast majority of the room; however, it will leave the corners bare. The questions are: “Do you live and operate in the corners?” or “Is open source ERP good enough?”. For most, the answers are “sometimes” and “yes”.

If you are in the ERP evaluation mode, you should ask yourself “Should I include open source ERP in my evaluation process?” If you are less than $300M USD revenue, your answer should probably be yes! This answer comes from these concepts:

  1. Pillars of Cost – Since open source ERP is free, that means that all the cost of proprietary ERP should be allocated to the corners. If you use height to illustrate this allocated cost, the corners turn into tall pillers of cost.
  2. Cost of Innovation – At first look, the price tag of free open source ERP is the most appealing benefit; however, this benefit soon becomes overshadowed by the flexibility of open source ERP. If organizational leaders take just some of the cost that would otherwise be spent on Oracle or SAP, and they invest it back into the organization’s skills and knowledge of how ERP works, operational efficiency will never look the same again. If you know how to change the system for the better, and you know it will work. Why would you not?
  3. Monday to Monday Cycle – Business leaders drive innovation in a company. This innovation is no more apparent than in the traditional Monday morning business meeting where a CEO comes in and paints a picture of the next greatest thing. His or her next comments are “Will it work?” and “Make it happen!”. Open source ERP helps your business and IT teams say yes more often. You are no longer completely dependent on a high-priced Oracle Integrators. You are no longer dependent on spending 18% every year to Oracle for software that you have little control over. Your team applies its knowledge of the system and the knowledge of its world-wide resources to create a proof of concept that paints the real picture the following Monday.
  4. Right Pay Grade – Open source ERP puts the right tools in the right person’s hands at the right pay-grade. there is little more wasteful that paying a $150/hr integrator for something a Jr IT professional should be doing. Open Source ERP removes the artificial barriers that exist in proprietary ERP.
  5. ERP for Everyone – User licenses/seats are no longer a consideration. This point cannot be stated strongly enough. At first look, you might think this point is about saving money. It is much more than that. You now have the freedom and flexibility of allowing everyone in your company to interact the system that drives your operations. You simply assign the right roles to the right people to give them access to the appropriate information.

ADempiere vs iDempiere vs Openbravo vs Compiere

The ADempiere, iDempiere, Openbravo and Compiere environments are amazingly similar. iDempiere came from ADempiere. ADempiere and Openbravo came from Compiere. Compiere came from Jorg Janke. Jorg came from Oracle. As a result, iDempiere and ADempiere have much in common with Oracle’s ERP in terms of the financial feature set.

This is both good and bad. Good because iDempiere and ADempiere are quite capable to help a company grow beyond $500M USD. Bad because they tend to be more complex in that they account for multiple languages, accounting schemas, currencies, calendars, costing types, costing methods, etc…. If you are a growing organization, and you need a system that will grow with you, and you have the right internal talent/resources, iDempiere or ADempiere will be a big asset for you.

The biggest difference between these products is that ADempiere and iDempiere are pure open source. ADempiere and iDempiere make all feature available for free. Compiere and Openbravo hold back features behind a commercial or paid license.

Here is an article that discusses the differences between iDempiere and ADempiere.

iDempiere and ADempiere vs Odoo

iDempiere/ADempiere (iD/AD) and Odoo (formerly OpenERP) approach ERP from two very different directions. Odoo comes out of the box with very simple options. If you are coming from QuickBooks, and you need a simple ERP system help you manage your business, Odoo will look and feel comfortable.

iD/AD comes out of the box with every feature installed and configured to run a $200M+ USD business. If your business is growing rapidly, and you are willing to invest the time to learn an enterprise accounting system, then iD/AD will give you confidence.

Which one is best for you depends on your internal talent, growth and business complexity. Here is a post to help you learn more.

Proposed topics:

How do you say iDempiere?

What are iDempiere’s greatest strengths?

What are iDempiere’s greatest weaknesses?

What is my experience with iDempiere

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