For most organizations, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a critical tool as it offers complete visibility into important aspects of the business. It gives the senior management a single-window view to monitor organization-wide data.
There are several paid and proprietary ERP tools available on the market. Depending on the vendor, each tool’s capabilities would vary, but mostly all are very robust. But should you always pay to use one?
In some cases, your needs may be too simple to justify paying for an ERP solution. Or you may have never used an ERP system before and want to make sure investing in one is worthwhile. That’s where free or open source ERP software solutions help.
Such ERP tools cost nothing to use and you can upgrade to a paid version to access additional features when you scale. Below, you’ll find three free and open source software tools and learn how much each costs to upgrade. These tools (arranged alphabetically) have been picked from the 2021 Capterra Shortlist for ERP software. (See full selection methodology here.)
- Free plan: Open source version is completely free to download, install, use, and redistribute.
- Paid plans: Start at $9 per month for a single user.
Dolibarr is a cloud-based, open source ERP solution. Its key features include sales management, human resources (HR) management, customer relationship management (CRM), financial management, and reporting and analytics.
It allows you to manage your product and service catalogs, including the pricing and quantity of each item. You can also track the inventory in your warehouse. The tool can be integrated with third-party apps such as PayPal, Stripe, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, and Magento. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
The tool offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
- Free plan: Open source version is free forever and includes all the modules.
- Paid plans: Start at $25 per month for a single user.
ERPNext is an open source ERP tool with capabilities such as HR and payroll management, CRM, project management, inventory management, accounting, and stock management. The software is available in cloud-based or on-premise options.
It offers a multilingual website builder that can manage your ecommerce and content needs. The tool can be integrated with third-party apps such as Razorpay, Amazon MWS, Google Calendar, Shopify, and WooCommerce. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
The tool offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
- Free plan: Open source version is free forever.
- Paid plans: Start at $20 per month for one user.
Odoo is an open source ERP tool that offers capabilities such as inventory management, CRM, HR, accounting, sales, supply chain management, invoicing, project management, and point of sale. The software is available in cloud-based or on-premise options.
Odoo includes more than 30 modules that are updated regularly. Its modular nature allows you to start with a small set of modules and add more when needed. Also, more than 16,000 third-party apps and plug-ins are available in the Odoo app store. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
The tool has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.
How to choose the right free and open source ERP tool for your business
These considerations can make selecting a free and open source ERP system a little easier:
- Look for a scalable solution. As your business grows, you’ll need to handle more business units, more data, and more complex operations.
- Compare the free usage limits of the products (such as the number of users and available features) and shortlist tools accordingly.
You’ll probably have certain concerns when selecting a free and open source ERP system. Here are a few key questions to consider asking the ERP vendor:
- How frequently do you release new updates? The answer to this will help you gauge how active the vendor is in maintaining and improving their ERP software. If the vendor hasn’t released any update or a new feature in a while, this can be a sign that the ERP tool may soon become outdated.
- Will I need additional training to use the tool? Check with the software provider how complex the ERP tool is. Ask if you’ll need additional training to get familiar with its features and if this training will cost you extra.
- Does the software upgrade cost include phone-based tech support? This will help you get clarity on the type of premium support you’ll receive when you start paying for the ERP tool.
How we rate
This article was updated on May 17, 2021. Products considered for this article had to be in Capterra’s 2021 Shortlist for ERP Software and:
- Offer a free, standalone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Meet our ERP definition: “Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software helps organizations track information across all departments and business functions, from accounting to human resources to sales and beyond, and leverages a shared database to provide a single “source of truth” across modules.”
The listed products are part of Capterra’s 2021 Shortlist for ERP Software, and were evaluated to assess whether they included the core features mentioned below:
- Inventory management
- Customer relationship management
- Billing and invoicing management
- HR management
- Reporting and analytics
Products that met all of the above criteria were selected for the article.
Looking for Enterprise Resource Planning software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Enterprise Resource Planning software solutions.