All the benefits of an ERP package at your fingertips—with none of the costs!
In recent times, we have all heard of the significance of ERP solutions in streamlining businesses. Heavyweights such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are all trying to woo global businesses to implement their tools, which no doubt, costs money—in fact, the word fortune is apt!
It is, apparently, a costly affair to implement ERP solutions in a business. However, in today’s world of “free and open source”, you should have no excuse for being left behind in the race to maximise productivity and profitability. Keeping in mind, the numerous tiny businesses and small and medium-sized entities in the industry today, we decided to find the most effective solution for this one need—Enterprise Resource Planning. Considering the shoestring budgets of SMEs, tools such as R/3 by SAP, PeopleSoft by Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics by Microsoft Corporation and SYSPRO, all seem to be out of the picture.
As a matter of fact, this industry is so large, that by itself, other outsourcing companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and others are generally roped in to carry out the implementation part! Not to forget the time lag and other overhead costs that are associated with these projects. Which is why we present this article on ERP, to equip you to stabilise, control, track and streamline your venture for higher productivity. From a host of free, open source solutions, and analysing a range of considerations, we rounded up with Tiny ERP—an open source solution, which is as expected, free, small in size, and most of all—if done meticulously, is the easiest to install.
The pre-requisites of most ERP software are higher RAM and larger memory for the database. Nevertheless, for an SME, around 5 GB free space on your hard disk with anything around or more than 1 GB of RAM will be sufficient for smooth and glitch-free operation. Another important point to make note of is that, Tiny ERP will work only if your disk partitioning format is NTFS—it should not be FAT or FAT32. Start off by downloading the installer from the Tiny ERP Web site, at http://tinyerp.com/download/stable/win32/. Alternatively, click on the home page, click on the products tab, and then on download. From this page, navigate to the appropriate file. Download the all-in-one file, named tinyerp-allinone-setup-4.2.2.exe, which is a 70 MB file. This includes the database (postgresgl), as well as the server and the client, all bundled into one single setup file. This was a decisive factor in selecting our ERP application, as other solutions required separate installations of heavier databases, Java Environments and a client in addition, and expectedly, being really heavy on system resources. One such example is that of Compiere (www.compiere.com).
After you download the setup for Tiny ERP, ensure that you do not have PostgreSQL installed on your system, because this can really be an issue, thereby causing error messages to pop up. Now, run the application, and just follow the instructions as they proceed. Leave the default values, especially be sure not to change any port values—assuredly, this can be the biggest pain factor during installation. The error messages as a result of port conflicts can really dampen your ERP plans. With Tiny ERP, however, you should not face such issues.
After the setup is run, it will prompt you to “Launch the Tiny ERP client”. Check this box and click Finish. After launching the service, do not be alarmed to see error messages that say “cannot connect to the server.” Click Cancel, and in the client, go to File > Databases > New Database. Enter details of the new database. By default the super admin password is “admin”. Type in a new database name and click OK. After entering all these details, Tiny ERP will setup a database for your company. This will take about a minute. By default, two users are created—each with a username and password as “admin / admin” and “demo / demo”, respectively.
Initiate the creation of a new database
Login as an administrator, as you are the first user. Select the minimal configuration, and select your language as English. Proceed with the details of your address, which is non-essential information as far as testing this software goes. Click Install at the end of it. Tiny ERP will install all the required modules, depending on the selections that you make initially.
Once the database is installed, you are all set to use Tiny ERP! The server application is installed on the main server, while user terminals are selected as clients. Effectively, they will login as demo-user. After login, you will see a default dashboard.
Close this dashboard by clicking on the close button on the toolbar on the top of the window. On the menu screen, as an example we will take a closer look at the Human Resources application. As we all know, Human Resources requires a considerable amount of data, such as payroll, leave applications, project details, and even attendance. All these involve logging into a database.
The default dashboard for an accounting profile
Once you click on Human Resources from the main menu, you will see a host of options. Depending on your application, you can click on any of them, and Tiny ERP will take care of entering it appropriately into the database. Being the Human Resource module, the obvious first step will be entering details of the employee names. Click on New Employee to enter all the relevant details.
Add details of employees to streamline your HR needs
Typical fields such as the name of the reporting manager are also provided, so that the database is organised for queries such as leave and project details.
Easy To Use
Similar to the application of Human Resources, Tiny ERP also provides CRM, Projects, Sales, Procurement, e-commerce and accounting modules, which you can greatly benefit from. The best part of it all is that it is really friendly to use. So feel free to experiment with the different modules that best suit your needs.