ERPNext becomes the most affordable ERP system in Germany!
Thomas was searching for a cost-effective and less complex ERP. He landed upon the ERPNext website. The community helped him meet independent service providers which led to a successful collaboration.
Meet Thomas, a technician turned into a designer and founder. Raaj is a night owl, a travel enthusiast, and a developer who loves to code and learn ML & AI. Shivam is a prolific businessman who loves to write, and read and has mastered relationship building.
Mr. Coelho rightly said, “when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” These three gentlemen were doing well in their careers until the freedom bug bit them hard. They ditched their career to work in an open-source environment. They happened to know ERPNext out of the blue and their success journey took a U-turn.
Let us understand how?
Know the roots of Alkoto
It was in 2000 when digitization was booming rapidly and the opportunity for advertising started raining in. Thomas had a secure job as a technician in the energy system. Parallelly he started working as a web designer, where he successfully created software for the marketing sector. That era demanded the need for flyers, posters, brochures, and business cards, which led to the start of Alkoto. The creativity and demand of the workaround for the advertising world interested Thomas and dared to jump into the deep end and start his career full-fledged as a technology enthusiast in the field of advertising and marketing.
Alkoto is a media & advertising technology manufacturing company based out of Bavaria - southeast Germany. With a team of five members, they have successfully managed to cater to 2000+ customers. They are into graphic and logo designing, web hosting and web designing, and laser engraving.
(Founder of Alkoto - Thomas Hirn)
Know team Akhilam Inc.
Team Akhilam is an Independent service provider. Shivam and Raaj were ex-colleagues before becoming business partners. They started their venture Akhilam Inc. with a dream to lead the tech-innovative industry. Based out of India, together they have built a diverse team of professionals who are experts in implementing ERP and developing solutions with a global mindset who love to work in a collaborative culture. Their goal is to bring a cost-effective ERP implementation plan to the table and ensure that it is afforded by Enterprise as well as SMBs.
They attended one of the recent ERPNext Conferences held in November 2022 which helped them understand ERPNext better. Here one of the community members demonstrated how one can make localization easy which made the team's job easier and they are willing to contribute more to the community. It all started with a customization project and later they bloomed to serve in 15+ countries. With a team of five members, they have implemented 25+ ERPNext implementations in different domains like Manufacturing, Retail, Service, Logistics, and Supply Chain. They cater to services like Business Process Re-engineering and aligning the same with ERP, Business Intelligence, ERP customization, training, support, and development.
(Team Akhilam Inc.)
Encounter with ERPNext
Alkoto was using Xentral, an ERP solution based in Germany. Since Xentral gave Alkoto a run for their money, Thomas started searching for cost-effective ERP solutions on Google. That is how he discovered ERPNext. He decided to go ahead with ERPNext because it is web-based, easy to use, and does not require the installation of any additional software. Beforehand, he did consult a few organizations that are already using ERPNext in Germany. He also attended the ERPNext forum, the feedback and reviews helped him in the decision-making process.
After finalizing ERPNext one drawback that he was facing was that he was unable to install it, customize anything or develop anything on his own. He was searching for ERPNext Developers and the Frappe teammates on LinkedIn. He got in touch with Raaj and Shivam who are active members of the ERPNext Community to migrate the data from Xentral to ERPNext, Thomas found them to be nice and friendly guys who were ready to help him.
In the case of Akhilam Inc, Raaj started working as an ERPNext Developer and later took on some freelancing projects. That helped him build a strong connection with the ERPNext Partners, and he was fortunate enough to work on some good projects. He also got in touch with Vishal Aarya from FOSS United who helped him with a project for T4G Labs an NGO where they were implementing ERPNext on Frappe Cloud. These implementations laid a strong foundation for the team Akhilam to start their organization and implement ERP effectively.
One of the main reasons for the team to start this organization was they wanted to create an impact on society and see the difference firsthand. In a large organization, their 9 to 6 job gave them less opportunity to work for such cause.
You mean what?
Before the migration process took over, team Akhilam was struggling to translate the documents from the German language to the English language. One of their team members was aware of the language which made it easier for them to understand. On a funny note Thomas adds, “by the time we complete 100% migration, Raaj and Shivam will be able to communicate in the German language.”
Learning goes a long way
While ERPNext handles 80% of the vanilla implementation, for migrations they had to write scripting where they fetched the data from the Xentral ERP and migrate them into ERPNext. Team Akhilam did face challenges while migrating the Alkoto data from Xentral to ERPNext. The system required to migrate almost 1.23 lac data, initially when they started they were surprised to see the large number.
Studying applications from Quickbook and Tally helped them. Raaj added, “I wrote Python scripts and they were able to make excel sheets and CSV files which made our migration process easier.”
Firefighting with the migration process, from Xentral to ERPNext
In the first place, team Akhilam started migrating items, customers, suppliers, and transactions like sales orders, quotations, and delivery notes. They also migrated the opening stock, credit invoice, purchase invoice, and other masters like contact and addresses.
While this process was ongoing, the team took a systematic approach to overcome the hurdles. They faced several challenges while migrating their data, some of them are shared below:
The complicated structure of the table in Xentral
ERPNext has different documents of customers, suppliers, and employees. Whereas in Xentral they had everything stored in one place. Team Akhilam created a custom script that helped them bifurcate the data and further prepare the sheet according to the ERPNext structure.
Dealing with documentation structure in Xentral
Xentral differentiates the data in documents using different tabs but in ERPNext we have sections for the same. To align everything, the team created a section that is similar to the Xentral tab. This in return helped the end-users to relate to the previous system and it was easier to understand or them.
Managing a large volume of data
It was not an easy task for the team to migrate the 1.5 lac number of data in one shot. Hence they divided the data into multiple CSV files and uploaded the same, which thereby helped them with the visibility of errors with each upload.
Keep the names of the documents unchanged
They added a field of old names on the ERPNext instance and set the naming by field.
Taxation is the biggest pain point
ERPNext is not 100% compatible with the German taxation process, though some developers from the ERPNext community have developed a workaround for using ERPNext in the German taxation part. They use Detev report for taxations. Raaj customized the reports and made it in such a way that it is lab usable. This helped the team Alkoto and their tax advisor use the system effectively.
ERPNext as an enabler
Because ERPNext is an open-source product, the ERPNext community acted as a platform for the team to come together, discuss and help each other. Thomas adds, “taxation is a great problem in Germany and he is grateful to team Akhilam for developing a solution that has optimized his business with the help of ERPNext. It has become easier for us to deal with the German market and the business is ready to scale, that in return is helping us work faster. He feels that ERPNext is a great solution and it should be used more in the German and European markets. Frappe Founder - Rushabh Mehta has done a splendid job in the open-source industry and his thoughts should be spread like wildfire.”
In some parts of our lives, we all have worked in a closed-source environment, and with that experience, we understand the bottleneck and limitations of using any code or communications for that matter.
Being 100% open-source and free software, ERPNext is glad to bring open-source enthusiasts under one roof. Certainly, the universe and its conspiracy played a good role here. Adding to Thomas’s words, yes more people should use ERPNext globally and they will understand the difference. Our Sales team is expanding in the European and German markets and we look forward to creating more awareness.