Over four years ago we moved our company's main operation to Großbettlingen and severed our access to our partner's ERP system. The decision was swift and we were under pressure to replace the system. We have in the past implemented two ERP systems at two other companies so not without (negative) experience we set off on a crusade scanning the internet searching for adequate replacements.

Over a period of only four weeks we had tried many systems and read many comparisons. Tired and now under ever more pressure we concluded that nothing really fit our requirements and almost everything was very expensive not to mention the long term running costs. So we took a first look at open source solutions and we found Dolibarr. Dolibarr is a web-based ERP solution made in France (http://www.dolibarr.org).

Installation

We installed proxmox as a virtualisation platform and added a Debian virtual machine. Then we downloaded Dolibarr version 2.8 and attempted to install as we had done previously with other open source solutions. It worked first time and we had the system up and running and started testing more intensively than on the communal online installation.

It was fast on our small machine and impressed both management and staff. There were translation issues and it did not satisfy all our requirements but it appeared to be robust and well structured. With 7 from a maximum of 10 points in our system comparison we decided to give it a real chance and planned the next project steps.

Importing contacts and products

Then a first minor shock - the tables and columns in the mysql database have French names. Now I am blessed with one very weak and outdated GCSE in French so for me, importing our data became a daunting task. After about 20 hours work the "foreign" data was imported and "accepté" by our new system.

Going live

We went live and had to live with a few compromises and I will not mention them individually here as the majority have been eliminated by the frequent updates supplied by the Dolibarr foundation. We had up to 8 people working with the system from two remote offices. In the first year of operation the company had too much work and no resources to look after or improve the system. We implemented a proxmox live snapshot backup system and hoped for the best. After 423 days uptime and little to no administration we experienced a power cut and all systems went down. After the power returned our office staff complained that they had no access to the system. Someone mentioned the "French stuff" and we found the switch in proxmox to start the instance automatically on reboot. It was not the "french stuff's" fault.

Updates have been provided twice a year with remarkable progess and additions

We decided that the system really deserved more attention and in 2015 it was updated several times. Updates are not a real problem as they are well managed - the system recognises the update and sends the administrator through a short (unbelievably short!) menu. Of course we were worried during the first few updates. We copied the virtual machine, updated the reserve system and tested. We were cautious, no, correction - we were over cautious. We have had no update issues at all really and look forward to installing version 3.9 shortly - touch wood.

Do not get me wrong, there are still compromises we have learned to accept and there are still translation issues but they do get fewer with every update.

Customising

We have done some small customising to the system. One of the changes is no longer used (a design mistake on our part), the other, an application to manage our employees working hours, has been in use since version 3.0 and has even outlived the update avalanche of 2015. We kept in line with the well documented rules and have had no problems to date.

Conclusion

Dolibarr is a great open source software and the last fews years have proved to us that it is on the right track to become an even better one. We have not made any further ERP system comparisons - it has not been necessary.