Tired of monthly software fees?

This article was first published by dmcityview.com

Cutting corners has a rather negative connotation; if you can’t do something correctly, cut a few corners and live with the diminished result. While generally true, there exceptions to all adages and for small businesses cutting some corners can offer avenues to serious cost savings. One particularly costly expenditure for businesses is technology, particularly software. With many popular software companies transitioning from single pricey purchases to on-going software subscriptions turning one time buys into never ending cash drains. Luckily there is a small glint of hope in the expensive software barrage; an altruistic technology solutions movement called “Open Source.”

Before you start screaming how you can’t give up your Mircosoft, Quicken, SalesForce, or Oracle take a deep breath and consider the word ‘free.’ Open Source only works because a swarm of programmers and engineers understand many people out there can’t afford software standard-bearers. What’s crazy is many of open source solutions offer the exact same solutions only without big flashy brand names and marketing behind them.

For enterprise resource planning there is Apache OFBiz, for customer relationship management there is SugarCRM or Odoo, to setup a local email server there is Zentyal, for business analytics there is Pentaho Open, Joomla for online content management, and so many more more. The secret of many of these products is they are all free, open versions of paid enterprise software. So if you care to test drive the free open software and discover they cover many your any of your bookkeeping, customer management, sales, data, or commerce needs making the transition is possible with the potential to jump to a more robust paid platform down the line.

Now there is a real negative to consider with open source software; given as these products are free (some supported by paid versions, some community efforts to generate alternatives) there is no guarantee they will exist or be serviced in perpetuity. The most popular open source tool ever “Open Office,” offered a free facsimile of Microsoft Office, and even with millions of users it’s benefactor shut it down.

So at the very least if you’re looking for short term relief from software expense, research an open source tool that might loosen your budget. Just be prepared to transition back in the event that your open source product announces an impending shutdown.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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