ERPNext The Real Review
Why does a small business need ERPNext? Is it worth the trouble it takes to set it up?
If I am a small business, the last thing I need is an ERP. My business is running fine, I am making money, my customers are happy, my accountant is happy and I have already enough trouble with all the software I am using. So why use an ERP? Ok maybe
I need one. All the time I am following up on my clients if I need to close a deal, or they are after me to deliver. I never have data when I need it. I don’t have control over my stock and I think all my employees are not working hard and they don’t
appreciate what I am doing for them. I need an ERP to get my act together. Then I could go on the long promised vacation to the beach.
So a friend tells me that there is this very affordable online ERP that I could just sign up for and its got a 30 day trial. Its called ERPNext. So I go their website and it looks kind of a good tool. There is just too much stuff to read on their site, and it takes me ages to find the sign-up button. Why don’t they make it easier for people to sign up?? So I fill up the sign-up form and it goes through. It seems that they will manually approve the request. Ok I will wait for it. Since I am already on their site, I go through their blog. Its basically a brain dump of their employees. It seems like they like to blow their own trumpet a lot. Let me see if the software is half as good as they claim.
Its Monday morning and I get a mail from ERPNext that my account is setup. Nice, I will look into this later in the night, right now I have a lot of calls to make and my coffee isn’t ready either. Ha, no one cares about my coffee.
Its night and I am burning the midnight oil. Let me checkup this ERP. So I go the url they gave me and login. Its taking ages to load the page. How do they expect me to use this every day? Ok so I am in and there is a dumb form I have to fill. Wait, haven’t I filled this already? I fill it again and submit it. After a few seconds, it gives a message “Setup Done”. Thats it?? Don’t I have to setup my contacts or something?
I look at the application and I see a bunch of icons like my Android phone. This looks neat. Finally someone understands what it takes. But how do I get started? Do they expect me to figure it out myself? I just click on the accounting icon and I see large menu with around 30 items like Sales Invoice and Journal Voucher. What a mess. They should send me a manual or something.
Let me rack my brains, there must be a way to set this damn thing up. Let me setup the Item master. Now where could that be, there is no icon for “Masters”. So let me click on the icons one by one. Finally I find the Item master. They should give me a prize for finding it. When I click on it, I get a page with a button saying “Make your first Item”. Fair enough. So I click on it and I now have to fill a form that has like.... woah... 1500 data fields. Ok, I am exaggerating a bit but its too much for me and I am already sleepy. So I shut it down and go to bed.
I forget about it in the next few day, but then something bad happens. One of my customer is very angry that we delivered the wrong items to him. It happened to be a gift for his wife, so you can understand the gravity of the situation. The customer fires me, I fire my staff. There has to be a better way to manage this. So I write to the ERPNext guys. “Please help me people, I need your ERP to work”
I get back an email from Mr Umair saying that he will be happy (really?) to setup a small demo session for me to get started. So I say, lets do it and we setup a time.
I have already downloaded Team iewer and am ready for the session. Umair tells me that Teamviewer 8 will not work and I need to download version 7. What a pain. It takes me another 15 mins to setup and finally we are in and the demo beings. So we are back to the icons page and I can already recognize the modules. Umair walks me through the system and it looks easy. Why don’t they have a video for this? It could save me so much hassle. In the middle, Umair has to answer a few queries so I wait. Finally I get a sense of of this thing works and now I have to set it up. I thank Umair for his time and promise him I will give it one more shot.
The next few days pass by and its only late in the night I get time to try again. So after the slow sing-in, I start exploring. The screens seem so clunky and its so hard to figure out what is what. They should just have given some sample Items so that common people like me could figure what is happening. Finally after an hour of trial and error I am able to create one Item, Customer, Supplier and a Sales Order. Yay! Now what? The manual says I should get a button called “Make Invoice” or “Make Delivery Note”. This is crazy. Finally it dawns on me that I have to first “Submit” the order. Why so much complication?? Ok I submit it and make an Invoice. Great, now let me book a payment.
A new screen pops up and I get a form what is called a Journal Voucher. What the freak is that? Am I in 1980? Most softwares will automatically merge my bank account and here I am, trying to figure out what is debit and what is credit! I close my laptop and crash on my bed hope I would not get nightmares about debit and credit.
A couple of days later I get a mail from ERPNext saying that my trial is getting over. Thank God!! It surely felt like I was on trial! After spending so much time, I had barely managed to scratch the surface. How would I ever go about entering my 1500 Items, 400 Customers and all the pending data? How would I setup my opening balances and when will I get time to figure out the debit - credit nonsense??
I swear I am never going to setup an ERP again.... I guess until my customer shouts at me.
As you may have guessed, this is a parody. But may not be far from the truth!
Rushabh is a software developer and founder of ERPNext. He usually writes about the startup experience, open source and the technologies he is working on.