Highlights from ERPNext Conference 2019 in Mumbai

Kai Rödiger, Jonas Depoix, and Mario Truß were at the ERPNext Conference 2019  in Mumbai representing //SEIBERT/MEDIA as both supporters and as users. The following article is an overview of their experience at the conference.

What is ERPNext and what does //SEIBERT/MEDIA have to do with it?

ERPNext is an open-source ERP system, meaning that it's also free of charge and license-free. It's developed by the Indian software producer Frappe.

//SEIBERT/MEDIA has decided to use ERPNext as a central customer database, and they've put an internal IT team in charge of implementing the system. For us, this is an investment in the future. We support Frappe financially and in return they give us development resources and support.

For //SEIBERT/MEDIA this means that the costs are only upfront; during when the software is being expanded and implemented. Of course, there will be additional internal maintenance and support from the manufacturer.  We're also avoiding a vendor lock-in. This is a considerable gain for us, since we save so much on licensing fees.

At 170 users, how much would ERPNext alternatives cost us each year?

  • Salesforce would  cost us approximately €600,000 per year for all employees, including support and all features. It would cost us €300,000 per year not including support.
  • Sage X3 would cost us $450,000 per year.
  • SAP Business by Design would cost us €285,000 per year.

In the spirit of good cooperation, we wanted to get the know the Frappe community and the people behind it personally. We wanted to introduce ourselves as a local company.  So we went to the conference in Mumbai, where it was being held for 2 days. Lectures were given by companies like us, by other users, and by Frappe themselves. Ex-SAP-Consultants as well as private users who are ERPNext enthusiasts were all present at the conference.

Currently ERPNext is already the central contact point for customer data from all external systems (Projectile, Billomat, Highrise, etc.) at //SEIBERT/MEDIA and is used by both the Atlassian license team and the Google team for license orders. Additionally, we are currently working on integrating ERPNext into Jira Insight - a plug-in that we're currently using to map our CRM in Jira.

The conference further strengthened our confidence in the software and it gave us insights into various areas of application. Many large companies, such as the ones we've previously mentioned, could just as easily have opted for SAP or Salesforce. One of the reasons why companies are choosing ERPNext is probably confidence in the project.

Why the conference was a win for us

For end users, many of the topics we're covering, including deployment with ERPNext, release cycles, and scalability, may be a bit too technical. On the other hand, the level of detail was a good fit for development teams or private user enthusiasts who want to get to know the software better. We learned how other companies configured ERPNext for their particular use cases, including what problems they faced and how they modeled their collaboration with Frappe. At the conference, we were also able to solidify our relationship with Frappe even more than before.

In Dubai we were able to not only present //SEIBERT/MEDIA as a company, but we were also able to represent the German community as well as our developments in licensing automation. We were well received because we set ourselves apart from the crowd: while many companies who introduced themselves relied primarily on praising Frappe, they didn't dare give constructive criticism. We were able to speak to how valuable ERPNext has become for us, while also making clear the difficulties we - as well as Frappe - face ahead of us (for example, in terms of conforming with European Union standards).

Surprisingly, there weren't any major feature announcements. Since the company relies on input primarily from their forums which boast 7000 active users, Frappe doesn't have a traditional public "product roadmap". Therefore, the event focused exclusively on the open exchange of ideas and experiences derived from using and developing ERPNext, which had a unique charm to it.

What we took away from the conference:

  • There are already successful and high-volume companies who use ERPNext: for example, Zerodha, India's largest online stock trader, with annual sales of $120 million.
  • Frappe aims to work towards conformity within Germany and the EU as a whole, which we hope to approach in cooperation with //SEIBERT/MEDIA and the German community.
  • We now have a better understanding of the processes that Frappe uses to develop their products.
  • Networking: We met and made contact with important people, stakeholders who are important for the success of //SEIBERT/MEDIA and this partnership.
  • We also learned the extent to which people and companies are switching from SAP to ERPNext.

So, was it worth it?

The discussions as well gathering new information at the conference weren't just a positive experience for the three of us as a development team, but also for //SEIBERT/MEDIA as a whole. We have a clearer picture of how Frappe works and we've now met some important contacts in person. At the conference we got a better idea of just how ambitious Frappe is at making ERPNext more accessible for users as well as improving it technically.  We learned just how important the exchange of ideas is to them, which is the kind of thing we probably wouldn't have discovered without having attended the conference; including the talks and the more informal personal chats we had while there. All of these reasons help us feel confident in saying that ERPNext is the right choice for //SEIBERT/MEDIA in the long run - even if in the short term it will involve some extra effort and it may be a little frustrating from time to time.

Are you interested in attending ERPNext?

The German ERPNext conference is taking place on 5 November 2019 starting at 15:00 at //SEIBERT/MEDIA in Wiesbaden. If you're interested, you can find more information in the Meetup Event.

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Further information:

ERPNext – Introducing a modern, free and open source ERP system
Learn more about ERPNext
Video playlist of the ERPNext user meeting presentations (in English and German)
Social intranets bring cloud services such as Google G Suite, Salesforce, SAP, and others together in a central platform

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