Customers and Products in open source ERP
The two building blocks of every commercial entity are products and customers.
In our last post we created a new customer in Openbravo – one of the leading open source ERP solutions. In this post we will talk about products in ERP systems and learn how to create a product in Openbravo. As always, a flash tutorial will show you exactly how it looks like inside Openbravo’s beautiful UI.
Once we have a customer and a product, we can create our first sales order. Next post will guide you through the process of creating a sales order in Openbravo. Then, we will move on to another leading open source ERP software – Compiere.
Just like we did with Openbravo, we will do an initial Compiere setup,create a customer and a product, followed by a sales order. We will follow this procedure through several other open source ERP solutions, creating flash tutorials for each solution. I believe it will provide valuable insight to those of you who are looking to compare different open source ERP solutions – you will be able to read and run the flash tutorial,side by side, of all the leading open source ERP solution,without leaving this site!
But our current discussion is around products in ERP software in general and in Openbravo in particular.
Prodcuts in ERP systems
Product are usually the most complex object in ERP systems. It might take up to 20-30 screens to maintain all product information. However, for most SMEs, a more basic representation of a product is sufficient.
The following list of properties is common to all products:
- Product ID or number
- Description – usually short and long description and sometime in different languages.
- Category – for many purposes, like spend analysis, sales statistic or production planning, products are divided to categories. Some companies might create there own category structure, while others might decide to use standard classifications like eClass of UNSPSC
- Unit Of Measure(UOM) – A product must be maintained in at least a single UOM. Pieces is the most common UOM, but kilograms,pounds,liters or boxes can also be used for that purpose.
- Price – obviously, each product must have at least one price, although usually companies hold price-lists so product price varies depending on the quantity ordered or which customer is ordering the product for examples. Promotions also cause the price of a product to vary for a predefined period/
- Bill Of Material – very manufacturing or assembly company holds for some of its product the products bill of material – a list of all products that are required to process in order to produce that product. If the product is a personal computer,for example, its B.O.M will comprise from a mother board, a CPU, a harddrive,RAM,power supply,fan and a case. The harddrive itself has its own B.O.M – magnetic plates,a motor,a moving arm,a case and a sticker. What we get here is a tree-like structure describing the different products.
- Attributes – all products are described by attribute name and value pairs. An attribute name might be color and value might be blue. Other attributes might be height,weight or melting temperature. A single product might contain multi-value attributes, so you could offer a T-shirt in blue,red and yellow colors. Attributes are closely related to categories, because products within the same category would usually have the same attributes, so its possible to maintain product attributes in the category level(this is called Taxonomy) instead of repeatedly managing the same attribute for each product separately.
- Alternative products – in many cases its very important for a company to maintain a list of alternatives for each products. A blue T-shirt might be an alternative product to a green T-shirt, so if all blue T-shirts are sold, a store can still offer the green T-shirt as an alternative.
Creating products in Openbravo
It’s time to create a product in Openbravo. Again, since Openbravo’s documentation is so good, you can just view the flash clip below together with Openbravo’s Wiki entry for creating a product to understand exactly how products are created in Openbravo’s open source ERP solution.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://opensourceerpguru.com/flash/CreateProductOpenbravoERP.swf" height="550" width="885" /]