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What Business Software Runs Your Office?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the common-apps-at-the-office dept.

Businesses 60

bardkerbie asks: "I work as a webmaster and sysadmin for a small computer services shop (4 employees including the owner). We're to a point in the growth of our business where we need a system for tracking work orders as they come in and out of the shop, specifically inventory used and time spent. We use Quickbooks Pro 2006 for our accounting and payroll software. I've played around with a number of issue-tracking and CRM suites, including Bugzilla, Eventum, SugarCRM and vTiger, but all seem like they lack one critical piece to handle the workload we have. What do you use for tracking the work you do? Is it something you wrote yourself? Is there an open-source project that works well, or is there a Quickbooks plug-in we can purchase?"

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60 comments

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19098075)

niggah jews

What platform? (2, Informative)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098091)

I run a business about the same size as yours. We're all Mac, so the programs we use most for officy things are Quickbooks Pro, Filemaker Pro, Pages, Keynote and Microsoft Excel. We use Microsoft Word only for printing shipping labels. We're planning to dump Excel when Apple releases its new spreadsheet software. At that time we'll probably update our label templates and move them to Pages so we can dump Word, too.

As a small shop you have the freedom to do things right from the start and not be locked into some legacy system someone put together in the 70's or 80's.

My advice to you is to code your own software and have it as a web service that you run from a beater server in the office. That way as long as there are browsers you'll never be locked in to one vendor, and as your business grows and you have to travel more you can access what you need on the road.

You're scaring me. (3, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098223)

We use Microsoft Word only for printing shipping labels.


Seriously? You know Macs have had programs for that for about, um, twenty-some years?

Code your own software and have it as a web service that you run from a beater server in the office...


Now you're scaring me. Let's say you're pretty good and you code the thing in just 30 business days. Let's also say your time is "only" worth $320/day. You're going to take that $10K investment in a critical system and stick it on a "beater"? If you go this route, please at least take backups like HOURLY and have a second server standing by when the beater craps out.

Re:You're scaring me. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19098801)

I know a couple of very, very, very large companies that run significant pieces of internal software as Access databases or Excel workbooks stuffed with Macros.

There is one place that uses Access for their primary customer relationship management and incident tracking system on a 10m+ gbp/year contract. The databased was pulled together by a regular member of staff, not a developer. It was written for Access 97 in 2005.

Why? Because based on internal charging rules (designed to move margin around) getting an internal development group to do it would have made the bid unwinnable. So instead they settled on this solution. This kind of thing is more common than you think.

Re:You're scaring me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19159779)

You have that problem too?

I am currently in charge of migrating 4 Enterprise class DB's out of MSFT Access into a web application. We're talking stuff the company depends on, couldn't survive or meet goals without. Gawd!

Re:You're scaring me. (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#19104637)

I'd love it if my time was "only" worth $320/day. As it is now, my company values my time at $173/day.

Oh, and my title is "Systems Administrator/Programmer"

Re:You're scaring me. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19108809)

The rule of thumb is that employees typically cost twice their salary when you factor in benefits and overhead. I don't know whether he was implying that or not.. $40/hr is well above average for a typical mid-level programmer, let alone admins.

Re:You're scaring me. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#19108835)

Let's say you just make an Access database, and for some reason it takes you more than 5 business days.. If this is the case, you should either look for a new line of work, or congratulate yourself on convincing the boss you're competent.

Re:You're scaring me. (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19158043)

So you're saying that you're able to make any Access database, of arbitrary complexity, with any user interface, also of arbitrary complexity, in under 5 business days? Pat yourself on the back, you're a genius.

Re:What platform? (3, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098407)

I run a much smaller business and our office is running ubuntu. We have a server which was originally random cobbled together hardware but has been replaced by a proper server.
The main applications are LAMP based and I wrote them myself originally, although they have been extended quite a bit since then.
Any of the growing number of thin clients can access our database through the LAN.

At the moment not having to pay for software licences, and being able to add new clients at the low cost of just a mobo, RAM, input devices and LCD screen IS a big deal for us, but later down the line this setup should have other advantages too.

Re:What platform? (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100205)

I'm in the process of building a very similar system.

About the only difference I can see is that I'll be running Gentoo, and a few low powered 'embedded' systems [200Mhz-ish machines] will be running the thin clients. Basically it will default to very basic XFCE session and will have a stripped-down firefox that will display the web-based software that is being served from the server on the local LAN.

Since I am in the same situation, is there anything specifically you would suggest I ensure I take into account?

Basically we are a small office, 3-4 thin clients and one server machine. All open source software and indeed will be contributing back to the projects we use [most likely in the form of cold hard cash and bug fixes as we come across them].
Essentially we are a small Computer & Repair Shop. We sell fully-built systems as well as custom systems and separate parts as needed. We also offer in-home and drop-off computer service [most people in this area uses Windows as per the stereotype]

I am very close friends to some other businesses that are not in the same business, but are looking for a similar system. So far it's pretty extensible, as it can be used as a cash/invoice terminal, etc. It is appropriate for restaurants, etc. After I get everything worked out I will be releasing it to the public under the terms of the GPL. :-)

Re:What platform? (1)

vertical_98 (463483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135547)

We are almost identical to you except we started in two-way radios and moved into computers. We have a Compaq 380 - dual P3-933 - 512m - 18.2 raid 1, that we bought on Ebay for $50.00 without drives. The 2 drives were $20 each used (with caddy).
 
We installed Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper) and the LTSP [ltsp.org] 4.2 iso. Our thin clients are a combination of Jammer-125s and Compaq DP 2000s (stripped of all drives and using an intel nic with built-in PXE).
 
The sad part is we bought the 5 Compaqs for less than the price of 1 Jammer. I expect the power supplies to crap out on the compaqs one day, but at $15 each its still worth it.
 
So lets see: 3 Jammers at 100.00 and 5 compaqs at 15 each we have 345.00 for the clients and 90.00 for the server. For a small business starting out, thats a pretty good price to pay to get everyone a workstation.
 
For pos and ticket management we used PHP Point of Sale [phppointofsale.com] and just extended it to include a ticket system and customer database.
 
  Blatant Plug: We custom code POS systems using phppointofsale as a base. [firstclassradio.com]

Vertical

Re:What platform? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100643)

Our three employee business used eGroupware. It is actively being developed and has the following capabilities (from the website):
  • Powerful calendar which also supports scheduling of groups, resources and even contacts
  • AddressBook / Contact-manager using SQL or LDAP
  • Userfriendly IMAP mail-client
  • ToDo, Notes and Phonecalls, CRM customer relationship management
  • Element based Projectmanager higly integrated with all other eGW apps
  • Resources managment (inventory) and booking tool integrated into eGW calendar
  • Managing files stored in the VFS (virtual file system) based on files, sql-db or webdav.
  • SiteMgr: Userfriendly intuitve web autoringsystem with fine granulated access control lists.
  • Timesheet application well integrated with projectmanager.
  • Tracking of bugs or other, integrated with projectmanager.
  • Wiki
  • Knowlege base NewsAdmin enter and view news ( RalfBecker, Nelius )
SiteMgr was not the greatest CMS around a couple of years ago, but it was simple to use and made incorporating information from the knowledge base or bug tracking software as easy as one click. If you don't already have a hosting provider, get a web presence, install eGroupware, use the LDAP features to centralize your address book, and start the company off with a solution that is easy to use but which can grow to just about any size. Once you have a reliable hosting provider, make sure your Internet connection is excellent, then sit back don't worry about maintenance other than doing DB back-ups on a regular basis.

Demo is http://demo.egroupware.org/currentversion/login.ph p [egroupware.org] >here. A new version (1.4) is alsmot out the door, so you might want to look at that. The Admin interface is just about the only waek part of the suite.

Good luck.

One or Zero (2, Informative)

millisa (151093) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098129)

One of Zero [oneorzero.com] is a better than average ticketing system we've been trying out for the last several months for tracking issues/work requests and small project. Open source, easy to setup, LAMP base. I have a few issues with the current reporting options (they just aren't good enough for generating something simple to use for invoice creation), but it's been the best we've found for our small shop. There is supposed to be a completely new version sometime soon that is a rewrite from scratch and promises all sortsa nifty features . . .we'll see. Oh, and my small office runs business software, not vice versa...Skynet has yet to take control.

Bah, I typo'd the name in the link. (1)

millisa (151093) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098357)

The title of the parent post is right, not the name in the link. I even reviewed the stupid thing. Go me.

Oh, and one of the advantage of it being a simple LAMP base is there's no reason you couldn't gen your own reports out of the data in the DB in whatever your favorite scripting language is (or you could learn their template format and add to the existing reports and submit back. Go you.).

Powered by goatse! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19098145)

Goatse! [goatse.ch]

Re:Powered by goatse! (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099411)

Goatse! [goatse.ch]

Our office used to use goatse, but we ended up losing data. Personally, I lost my lunch.

Dunno if you meant that as a slam... (2, Insightful)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098153)

"I work...for a small computer services shop (4 employees including the owner). We're to a point in the growth of our business where we need a system for tracking work orders as they come in and out of the shop, specifically inventory used and time spent. I've played around with a number of issue-tracking and CRM suites, including Bugzilla, Eventum, SugarCRM and vTiger, but all seem like they lack one critical piece to handle the workload we have.
Dunno if you meant that as a slam, but if these products/projects don't have the features to handle a generic 5-person job shop, WTF can they handle?

Re:Dunno if you meant that as a slam... (3, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098405)

Well, speaking about CRM because I've been looking for something for some time... There doesn't seem to be any such thing as a generic shop. Or if there is, there's no such thing as a generic CRM system in the opensource world. I'll use vTiger as my example as it's the best solution I've seen.

Someone always comes up with an idea which they'd like to follow through with but is somehow difficult with vTiger.

Yes, I know there's the "it's open source, modify it yourself!" argument. I took one look at the vTiger code and ran away screaming.

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't code something like that up myself - but even so, I think the standards the folk behind vTiger have for what they describe as a "stable" release are a little slack. Just to put it into context, I don't consider "stable" release to mean "most of the core features are there and stable but there's a whole lot of stuff (including the "upgrade from earlier version" function) which isn't particularly stable at all, is not specifically marked as being unstable so you may not know until it's too late and hasn't been disabled for the release.

Further, I was particularly interested to note that the failure mode in much of vTiger (particularly if there's something even relatively minor amiss with the database) seems to be "return a completely blank page to the user's browser and don't log the issue".

VTiger (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19107013)

It also seems somewhat stagnant. Last update is over a year ago?

Re:VTiger (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19110397)

Er... nah, it's been updated. Last update was October (which I guess is still 6 months).

Despite being open source, vTiger tends to follow a more "cathedral"-style development model. Major releases are few and far between, minor/bugfix releases only fix the most heinous of bugs. Rather like a lot of the more expensive proprietary software out there, now I think of it. (Aside: There's plenty of expensive proprietary software out there which makes Microsoft look like a shining beacon of excellence staffed entirely by geniuses).

I think CRM has the same problem as groupware [jwz.org] . It's never going to attract "itch-scratching" individuals because it solves a problem which individuals don't have. It's a classic example of how Open Source is not a panacea, and is certainly not a substitute for employing your own developers.

Re:VTiger (2, Informative)

richievtiger (1102331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19126901)

Hi!
I am Richie from vtiger.
Yes, of late, the release has been very late by vtiger standards. This was done so that the quality issues are addressed. Earlier on, vtiger was more date-driven and hence had compromised on the quality and user-experiences. This time around, quality is the paramount factor in mind. Hence the extended time before we release.

The last release was on 30/10/2006. It has been 7 months now since the last release. The new release is due this month and will be primarily a bug-fix release.

Pertaining to the original discussion, I would agree with jimicus. Open Source is not a silver bullet. You will have to be very careful in what you want and how you would like to achieve the same. I would suggest Open Source since you will have multiple alternatives but at the same time, you have to be careful as to which horse you back even in the OS domain. Priorities change depending on the community response to the releases so what you want may or may not be in the next release.

Try and build modular plugins/extensions so that you can replace them with anything new that comes in. This way you will be uptodate and not be hampered by progresses. You will not be able to do this with Commercial products though.

Richie

Re:VTiger (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19127085)

Hello Richie,

It was the 30/10/2006 release I was wrestling with. To be perfectly honest with you, after a week of wrestling I was prepared to give up my IT career and grow begonias.

It's nice to know there's been some work on the quality of the product. Do you know if anything's been done to make upgrading from earlier releases more reliable?

Re:VTiger (1)

richievtiger (1102331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19128241)

Hi jimicus!
Yes, the 30/10/3006 build had issues. vtiger had done a lot of work in the past on the migration front but somehow it reached a peak of fiasco in that build. So I guess, you were upset.
This time around, we have been focussing a lot on the migration and also on the migrated build.
As earlier, the UI is embedded within the product and we have made some additional fixes in it as well.
We have tried to cover as many loopholes as possible this time.

As ever, things are perfect in a developer environment. I am myself keeping my fingers crossed as to how things go when it goes live into the market.

Richie

Re:Dunno if you meant that as a slam... (1)

richievtiger (1102331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19126939)

Jimicus, yes, we had/have flaws in our system. Let me assure you that we have tried to address a majority of these kinds of issues in the 5.0.3 release. In fact, because of the fact that we decided to address the host of issues that were present, the release was delayed by around 4 months or so.

The last vtiger release 5.0.2 was on 30/10/2006. 7 months have passed since then and we are about to release the 5.0.3 now.

I hope you will like this release.

Thanks for voicing your opinion. Appreciate it.
BTW, we are working on the last observation of yours too.

Thanks,
Richie

It's the everything syndrome (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099535)

ut if these products/projects don't have the features to handle a generic 5-person job shop, WTF can they handle?
Y'know, "It has to be perfect, do everything". Which is a contradiction, the more generalised a tool, the less good it is at any one task.

For an all in one, compiere or opentaps. Mantis for issue/request tracking.

 

Trac (3, Informative)

maccallr (240314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098269)

Trac [edgewall.org] might be worth checking out, although I don't think it will handle inventory and time spent. Maybe it does - I'm just an end user on one project (bug reporting and feature requests) - what do I know?

Re:Trac (3, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099537)

Unfortunately, trac is the epitome of one of those open source projects that evolves into something can do a little bit of everything, but nothing well.

It's wiki, rev control, etc. are all good for specific things, but they all severely lack in certain areas.

CRM and ERP (2, Informative)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098289)

Our shop is a little bigger than ours. I had the same problem when deciding what to use. I finally went with a combination of sql-ledger and vtiger and it's actually working out quite well. Of course since there are two main apps there is some redundancy but not too bad. The tiger is for standard sales use and monitoring sales persons progress plus our website is setup to run off of it's products dynamically displaying info and pics of products that meet a certain criteria plus generating invoices the salesmen can work with. sql-ledger comes in to handle true accounting level type of transactions and history. vtiger at some point is supposed to support postgres at which point I intent to at least partially integrate the two at least on the inventory level to reduce redundancy, but it's certainly tolerable at the current level it's at. No different that using QB plus some other type of CRM software plus I get a lot more functionality. I have vtiger and our main site setup with phpthumb so our sales manger can quickly market products on hold or reduced for clearance plus vtiger mass marketing integration is good. Not the greatest, but they have much planned so it'll only get better.

Re:CRM and ERP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19103237)

Our shop is a little bigger than ours.
Sweet...

Try RT (2, Informative)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098511)

http://bestpractical.com/rt [bestpractical.com]

It was what my previous employer used. It has lots of features, and is quite easy to use and setup.

Re:Try RT (2, Interesting)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099529)

Easy to use and and setup? Have you seen the dependency list? Have you installed it? Have you admin'd it? It's a nightmare to setup, it's an ongoing battle to keep it setup correctly (read: high maintenance) and it has so many weird and obtuse requirements you'll can really use the box it's setup on for anything else.

Outside of that it's a good program, but it's anything but easy to setup.

Re:Try RT (1)

zamboni1138 (308944) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100035)

The first five or so times, trying to get it installed can be a nightmare. I've posted about RT before, and it does fit a lot of situations well (once you get it installed). Yes, the dependencies are an issue. First time I installed RT I didn't even know what CPAN was. Boy did I get a wake up call.

About a year ago I wrote my own CRM system to address things RT just didn't have or didn't implement well (like the FAQ Manager addon), and ended up switching all of customer support to the in-house system.

Re: What Business Software Runs Your Office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19098575)

What Business Software Runs Your Office?
Yo momma, bitch.

In all seriousness though, we employ females for most tasks.

Compiere (1)

Aging_Newbie (16932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098587)

The spring 2007 release of Mandriva came with Open Source Compiere that is a combined Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management product. If you look it up in Google you will find lots of info. Wikipedia has an article on it, and several discussions are going on whether it is going to fork into private and open source versions. I looked at it, it appeared to have promise, but did not need it immediately so have not done a deep dive. I liked the fact that it could work with any database you want (including Postgresql, my favorite) but cannot speak to its complete functionality.

I don't think anybody could recommend a product such as that for you, serious investigation is needed. But, I would give Compiere a look and maybe it will be the closest thing to what you need.

Re:Compiere (1)

nedigital (148927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099041)

I'll second the recommendation to take a look at Compiere. My shop has 10 techs. Compiere does about 90% of what we needed right out of the box. For the other 10% we were able to bring in a Java programmer to make the modifications.

Re:Compiere (1)

Tumbarumba (74816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099097)

Out of interest, does anyone know how stable it is to run Compiere on Postgres? The main page mentions that Oracle is the only supported database, but it will run on Postgres as an "unsupported" option.

Joe

From someone in a similar boat... (2, Informative)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098959)

I'm also in a small shop with four people, we do general network planning and setup for local companies. Personally, I've been investigating the viability of TinyERP [tinyerp.com] for the job. I'd imagine that a lot of the replies received will mention the same packages as in this recent slashdot article. http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/11/21 25226 [slashdot.org]

I certainly won't cry dupe because I was looking for more discussion on the issue!

Enterprise Resource Planning (1)

Tumbarumba (74816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19098977)

This question is nice timing for me, too. I'm looking for inventory control systems right now. My wife is about to open a new shoe shop (see http://www.lillifoot.co.uk/ [lillifoot.co.uk] ). So, not really the same as computer services, but there are many other things in common. I really need something to help track orders from suppliers, current inventory levels, and sales to work out when we need more stock.

Wikipedia has a handy list of useful software at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ERP_software_ packages [wikipedia.org] . I'm looking for something I can install on a Linux server, and not pay too much. I initially tried Openbravo, but the performance was atrocious. I'm currently giving TinyERP a whirl (which seems OK, but I'm unsure about integrating the POS terminals with the inventory).

I'd be really interested to hear about what people think these and other software packages which can help.

Joe

Re:Enterprise Resource Planning (1)

happy*nix (587057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19104623)

Not a full blown ERP but nolapro is a nice lamp based accounting software. There is inventory tracking POS integration, even a web-store. It handles employee pay, and order tracking. Some parts are not intuitive. (But I'm not a lover of accounting) Speed has been good, it has search as you type (an important feature to me), and other stuff too. Best of all there is a free demo avialable, plus a 30 or 60 day trial. It is a subscription model (kind of a downside) but just $20/month hosted or host your own.

Inventory/Labor Tracking and Integration (1)

El Royo (907295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099181)

Well, this is an opportunity for me to toot my own horn, so to speak. It sounds like what we offer might be a bit overkill for what you need right now but our software, Co-Log/Open [data-net.com] might be something to look at when you want to start integrating portable (and fixed) bar code data collection terminals into your various system. Our products are designed for companies that want to track inventory and labor on shop floors, although it's really a data collection system toolkit. We use our own system internally for tracking our inventory and tracking RMAs. We use Quickbooks but haven't upgraded to a recent enough version to really try direct integration, though what I've looked at shows the integration will not be very difficult. Bar codes might be something to look at a little further down the line but systems are getting inexpensive enough that smaller and smaller businesses are taking advantage of them. And the nice thing is that our system has the capability to integrate into a variety of back end systems so you're never stuck.</shamelessplug>

PSA Software (2, Informative)

pjbus (728439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19099199)

What you're looking for is a class of software called "professional services automation". There are several major software packages that are available (both hosted & on-premise). They all handle CRM, time & billing, service ticket tracking, project management, etc. Most integrate with Quickbooks for GL. Connectwise PSA - www.connectwise.com Autotask - www.autotask.com Tigerpaw - http://www.tigerpawsoftware.com/ [tigerpawsoftware.com]

My wife (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19099405)

She's very soft and cuddly.

allocPSA and GNU Enterprise (2, Informative)

mrcgran (1002503) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100159)

As someone else noted, you are looking for PSA systems. AllocPSA is a nice GPL PSA project.

allocPSA: http://www.allocpsa.org/ [allocpsa.org]
screenshots: http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?gro up_id=165183&ssid=57157 [sourceforge.net]

GNU Enterprise is another: http://www.gnuenterprise.org/ [gnuenterprise.org]
http://www.gnuenterprise.org/packages/ [gnuenterprise.org]

Filemaker is really quite great. (1)

VoxBoston (670308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100267)

No, it's not OS. But you can do virtually any data-crunching thing with it, and developing on it is insanely easy. For example, you can make changes to the way your system looks and functions without kicking users out. It's multi-platform. You can publish databases to the web (or just create simple 'guest-book' web forms that populate your primary databases) with just a couple of clicks. Imports / exports to spreadsheets, has fancy data-scraping tools (i.e. track packages via UPS, integrate GEO data from mapping sites, etc). The templates that come free with FMP are also very useful for many business functions (contact manager,invoicing system, inventory manager, etc.) , and you can learn how-to develop on FMP by modifying these solutions. I can't recommend it enough - we've used it for 9 years.

Mortgage company (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 7 years ago | (#19100885)

We've (citipacificmortgage.com [citipacificmortgage.com] ) developed our own CRM software (swiftlead.com [swiftlead.com] ) that is highly customized for mortgage brokers (as well as used by lead providers and branch operations). Things like SugarCRM just aren't really suitable for how most mortgage companies operate. We use Trac and Subversion for our development, LAMP and WAMP to run our application on, google mail and calendar.

LedgerSMB, vTiger, Joomla (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101507)

Vtiger [vtiger.org] is a SugarCRM fork which is IMHO further developed (Sugar seems to have stopped when it went commercial), and in 'further' I include the ability to integrate with practically the whole Office suite. We don't use half of that because we ditched MS Office for OpenOffice.org and, where possible, Open Source we can use instead - the aim is to abandon the Windows platform altogether. (note to Skype: get video to work on Linux).

Ledger SMB [ledgersmb.org] is a SQL Ledger fork which started out of frustrreation with unaddressed security issues in SQL Ledger but which has since moved to do a complete code overhaul (i.e. a large debugging session) and is heading for a 1.3 release with a much cleaner code base which will support APIs for integration. Just lurk on the mailing list and you'll see just how active this project is. IMHO a good sign if you're about to commit your business finance to it, but make sure you gave it firewalled. Not because you have to (code seems to be reasonably OK), but because you should (it's your money we're talking about).

Joomla [joomla.org] is a CMS which allows you to knock up a website pretty quickly. Set up DB, instal template and off you go, especially if you use Joomla Cloner [joomlaplug.com] for backup. It takes a while to get used to, but CMS is the only way to go for an average size business.

There you go :-).

Forgot to mention SUPPORT! (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19102429)

Part of the reason why we use those specific packages is because we also consider the issue of support and possible outsourcing of any adjustment, bespoke code or improvements.

It's all jolly well to pick any kind of package that promises the earth and/or has good starting motives, but you are trusting your business to this.

The packages I listed are the ones we felt it would be possible to either get paid support for if needed, or would offer us the ability to subcontract our needs if we couldn't meet them internally. In other words, we have maximum flexibility. We need it because the group I work with is international which means multiple nationalities, currencies, languages, legal frameworks and, above all, ability to integrate. The latter was the prime driver to go completely Open Source, it's much easier to get everything standardised across multiple systems.

As for desktops, I fully expect to end Q3 with thin, LTSP based Ubuntu or Kubuntu desktops, and maybe an Asterisk core to bring VoIP inhouse if we feel that Skype is no longer providing what we need (so far, so good, it's a backup option).

Going back to what I started with, this doesn't mean we wholly exclude new developments. The nice thing about a stable core is that you can experiment without blowing things up, and I'm always interested in new ideas (both as a mental exercise and to see if we can improve the way we operate or serve our customers). We just keep core business and 'nice to have' well separated :-).

Ubuntu. (0, Offtopic)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101661)

Seriously. It comes with everything. Open Office, Tomboy Notes, The Gimp, Pidgin, Skype, Firefox. ....Sadly it doesn't come with Thunderbird by default, so that costs me approx. 5 minutes of grief per machine every time I set up a new one. I have to remove Evolution, sudo apt-get thunderbird ... You know the drill.

I also change the background for every machine, and lose the brown default theme as well. An additional 30 seconds per machine.

Other than that, a default Ubuntu install is almost perfect for an office machine in any department.

rhY

Re:Ubuntu. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19127933)

well that's fucking lovely for you!

apart from the fact that none of those tools do what the op was asking for, do you not realise that those tools come with every linux distro, they're not ubuntu-specific, you could have just said "linux", but nooooo, every slashdot thread has to have an ubuntu fanboy.

bugger off back to digg.com

Meh. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19142089)

I'm not saying there aren't other great Linux distros. I just happen to find Ubuntu very easy and fast for everything I need to do.

However: If a different Linux distro did the following I would switch right away:

A. Stay as easy to use, and require even less of the command line.
B. Allow me to just be root all the time. Or make it easier to be root in nautilus, at least.
C. Ditch the Brown.
D. Ditch Evolution for Thunderbird.
E. Make installing codecs even easier.
F. Ditto "restricted" drivers.
G. Allow me to keep some things bleeding edge (wine, emulators, etc.) in an easy way (without adding repositories, etc.)
H. Come with beryl and Avant Window Navigator on by default.

So show me the Distro that keeps the simplicity and stability of Ubuntu, but fixes those issues, and I'll switch tomorrow.

rhY

solved it (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101901)

We're writing our own.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101935)

In Soviet Russia the office runs you....oh wait

TimeTrex for Time and Attendance/Payroll (1)

passion4 (1069666) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101989)

We're a little bigger then you are, but once you get to a certain number of employees most companies discover that tracking employee attendance and processing payroll becomes a huge burden for them.

So far we haven't found anything that even comes close to the capabilities of TimeTrex [timetrex.com] and the best thing is that it is open source.

We save thousands of dollars per year compared to going with the popular payroll outsourcing companies, plus we have some pretty unique needs, so we were able to customize it and eliminate any manual calculations and data entry. Its worked out great!

Re:TimeTrex for Time and Attendance/Payroll (1)

happy*nix (587057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19104697)

A more basic timesheet application I like is timesheet.php (http://www.advancen.com/products/timesheet.html) Take a few minutes to try the demo.

BB software hacked up with extra features (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19102153)

Didn't start with phpbb, but unless you have something custom that you're familiar with hanging around it's probably the best place to start. I then added plugins to allow the creation of a status & assignee field to a topic, and ability to sort or filter by either (less than a day's work). Create a board for each client, set the main page to sort boards to show oldest open post assigned to logged in user at the top. What's nice about this system is that we get RSS feeds of open jobs, which is a feature I haven't seen anywhere else.

Stop recommending spaghetti code (1)

babylon93 (611333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19107817)

Joomla - written in PHP - is the only item in your list with decent source code. Comments in the code and the use of CVS or SVN are some obvious good points. It still has the HTML-in-the-code problem but 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

vTiger (and SugarCRM) - also written in PHP - both have Terrible performance. Absolutely terrible. I suppose that if you use this software with a database of less than 10,000 customers you might be ok. Searching for bugs actually times out (not a good sign). Something else of note: the SugarCRM developers can't code valid HTML. See for yourself - http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww .sugarcrm.com [w3.org]

LedgerSMB and SQL-Ledger are seriously some of the worst Perl I have ever seen in the last 10 years.

I wouldn't touch LedgerSMB/SQL-Ledger with a 10 foot pole.
Every Perl programmer worth his/her salt knows that any Perl program or module should begin with:

#!/your/path/to/perl -w
use strict;
use warnings;

I looked through the source code and although I didn't see any obvious vulnerabilities (i.e. SQL Injection or Cross-Site-Scripting) there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of lines of (poorly coded) HTML scattered throughout the Perl source.

Conventions as old as Perl5 (October of 1994) are completely ignored (clear module hierarchy, stricture, code comments, POD documentation, full test suite, etc.) and will ultimately lead any business built on such shoddy code to peril (or ruin).

The Dieter Simader (coder) and DWS Systems Inc. (company) may have made headlines with this steaming pile back in 1992. However, looking at the source code, it bears a copyright date of 2006. Mr. Dieter Simader appears to have successfully sheltered himself from learning anything new for the last 13 years (and running). Great Job!

Shitty code like *THIS* gives Perl a bad name. I would rather they simply close the download site before another hapless would-be user falls into the trap that is SQL-Ledger/LedgerSMB.

SalesForce (http://www.salesforce.com/ [salesforce.com] ), NetSuite (http://www.netsuite.com/ [netsuite.com] ) and Oracle/Siebel CRM on Demand (http://www.crmondemand.com/ [crmondemand.com] are all excellent (hosted and proprietary) tools.

there is no ready solution ... (1)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19113799)

Hi,

First, whatever you get, it won't do everything you need it to; You'll have to either adapt your company's workflow, or customize the software you choose.

Second, developing your own is tricky, since it involves lots (and I mean LOTS) of coding and testing cycles (read that as time and resources) and its a bit difficult to justify.

We're in a different situations: being in a corporation, we have our own CRM, which is sold externally, so for us its a matter of eating our own dog-food.

Even in this situation (having our own product), the CRM we use is still heavily customized for our own workflows and we have a dedicated team developing and testing customizations for our internal use.

Mantis for CRM (1)

Zukix (641813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19144457)

Its pretty much how I would have designed a CRM - lightweight and very simple to use - generally a pleasure to use. Open-source php and an option of database vendors (mysql mssql etc). I'm no php coder but I still integrate some reporting and make some minor tweeks - it doesn't make enough sense to me for major changes though. http://www.mantisbt.org/ [mantisbt.org] My only BIG want is for out-of-the-box integration with source control.

cool (0, Troll)

Pamila (1083475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19157245)

Sounds cool indeed. Mortgage refinancing [mortgagerefinancing.com]
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