“We handle a tremendous amount of documents (invoice, PO’s and receivers), so I was wondering how well open sourcedocument management software actually works for wholesale distribution and manufacturing?”

The answer is “pretty well”. Here is a video demonstration. Below are my thoughts based on my experience:

The ideal situation is to manage and store documents within your current processes and ERP software. Let’s take a Purchase Order (PO) as an example. Here are the steps in a typical PO order management life cycle.

Some or all of these steps apply to you:

  1. Draft a PO – not yet usable by the system. System should prevent sending document to the vendor.
  2. Prepare PO for Approval – reserves inventory and routes the document to the right person.
  3. Complete PO – system only allows the right role to complete this action. Document can now be sent to vendor.
  4. Send version to vendor – system creates a print format. System may track this document as a ‘version’.
  5. Scan or attach vendor response – this is especially important for receipts that include packing slips and invoices.
  6. Edit document and create new version – repeat the above steps when PO needs to be modified. The system should be smart enough to allow/disallow mods based on receiving state.
  7. Close – when all activity is complete, close the PO and cancel outstanding quantities. Track who closed and possibly why. Prompt employees for quality responses if needed for quality certifications.

The same concepts apply to other ERP and order management documents (receipts, invoicing, payments, inventory moves and adjustments, etc…).

I usually implement the above processes inside ADempiere ERP. It is free, and it is open source. The document life cycle and workflows are already included. You can attach a document to any record. For example, If you navigate to a vendor invoice, you see the attached original vendor document inside the system.

This is the scanner I typically recommend (scanner recommendation: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16838115052). It is fast, It scans two sided. And, it is durable; I often deploy these units in a warehouse setting.

Related to this topic, you should investigate ADempiere’s Request feature. Once you attach a document, you can easily share this information along with its links to related information (Business Partner, Material Receipt, and Purchase Order) – all within the same place.

About Chuck Boecking: I am an ERP educator. I believe that open source ERP have achieved mainstream capabilities, and as a result, more companies can create greater efficiency across their organization. I started using the iDempiere code base in 2003. Back then, it was called Compiere. In 2006, I started my first multi-million dollar installation. Since then, ADempiere has helped me create great success with distribution and manufacturing companies all over the world. My vision of success is to find companies that can best use open source ERP to help them achieve a single, global instance that drives a discontinuous increase in profitability. I believe that organizations win when they own their technology.

If you have questions, comments or concerns, let me know. I definitely want your feedback.

You can contact me by phone using 512.850.6068.

My email is chuck@chuboe.com.

You can complete the form on this page.

Thank you for taking the time. I look forward to speaking with you.

Chuck Boecking



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