Through a series of topics on these forums, readers are informed about the experiences in moving to Odoo by Invantive. This topic is the first in this series. The goal is to use these topics to share decisions, happy moments and disappointments. Undoubtedly this information can be found elsewhere, but specifically within our own bubble in the business world we find that there is little practical applicable background knowledge about Odoo.
Other topics are currently (sorted from most recent to older):
- First experiences with data integration on Odoo via Invantive SQL
- Considerations for running SQL across Odoo Accountancy environments with large numbers of databases
- Odoo SQL-driver performance improvements for very large Odoo environments
- Niet altijd liefde op eerste gezicht: de relatie Odoo-database en Odoo-abonnement (alleen Nederlands)
- Where can I find my current Odoo database name in Odoo itself? (alleen Engels)
- Configure an external email server on Odoo.com using Amazon Simple Email Service and Route53 (alleen Engels)
- Hoe meld ik me aan op Odoo voor SQL-queries? (alleen Nederlands)
It cannot be ruled out that disappointment will prevail at some point and Odoo will be prematurely placed on the list of systems to be phased out. Even then, that will be indicated. That doesn’t disqualify Odoo, but more about our way of implementing systems: starting a project with some brains, without testing everything extensively beforehand, continuously balancing risk and speed.
This topic explains why there were business reasons to move away from the current accounting package.
Why switch to Odoo?
Invantive uses a large number of systems to help the users of its software products. The core systems are custom-made, often written in Invantive SQL or related products (the “make” products). But some systems are so general in nature that excellent solutions can be found in the marketplace (the “buy” products).
All products have their own life cycle. Such a life cycle for a software product is not very different from that for, say, a CT scanner or a car: the first models are so innovative that they acquire marketshare despite their poor qualities (the “babies”), then they become stronger and more stable (the “adults”), and finally there is a phase when viscosity increases to some sluggish process and running costs increase each year (the “elderly”).
One of the products bought is the accounting package. This package has been used for more than 15 years and Invantive was among the first few promille users compared to the current installed base. Due to relocations within the Netherlands and the desire to maintain existing business relationships as much as possible an online accounting package was chosen long long ago, so that cooperation with the accountant was possible without having to travel long distances with documents. This accounting package is actually still used in an unchanged way: general ledger, bank ledger, sales and purchase ledger and assets. An occasional quotation is made. The accounting package has matured over the years. Some improvements were relevant such as being able to renumber accounts. Sidenote: due to crashes of SQL Server that lies beneath the accounting package used, relationships at Invantive historically have a high account number; SQL Server loses a large percentage of the possible sequence values when using a so-called “identity column”.
Administration growing from personal relationships to real-time and massive
Invantive has evolved somewhat over the years and currently runs five administrations. The main improvements relate to the booking process becoming more real-time; while 15 years ago purchase and sales invoices were only checked for payments and open items once every few months, today users expect their invoice payment to be processed immediately after transfer. Also, as the number of business relationships has grown much faster and with less direct contact, the need is great to be able to inform and help each new user as soon as possible, including accounting or with that occasional quote.
To be able to collaborate more real-time, accounting is integrated with other systems such as for marketing and the primary processes. A new user should preferably be found in accounting right from the start of a trial.
The main changes over all these years in accounting were:
- more real-time processing of payments,
- more real-time processing of relationship changes.
These facilities were also available in the accounting software 15 years ago, but the implementation required many improvements in the process.
In all the years, the cost of accounting software has gradually increased by about a factor of 1.5 (prices factor of 3, but inflation largely compensates).
In recent years, the use of the accounting package became increasingly problematic and the insistence on the requirement for more real-time processing leads to substantial additional costs, mainly in labor and increasingly prolonged periods of crisis. The quality and usability of the interfaces became increasingly difficult. Fortunately, the platform is also supported by Invantive SQL, so the investments for the necessary modifications cut both ways: we help our own organization, but also users, to circumvent these problems.
The last few years have been costly and frustrating from an accounting point of view due to increased needs on real-time accounting and decreasing performance in functionality and service of the accounting package. In retrospect, that was actually also the sign that the “Sunset” phase had begun for the current accounting package. Discussions about this with the manufacturer are therefore not very useful.
After positive experiences in terms of less business worries and cost reduction by switching from the old scanning software to currently Basecone, we also had to conclude at some point that continuing on the current path does not make sense.
Recent further and unannounced restrictions in the functionality of the accounting package - typically linked to the End of Life phase - increase the costs by about a factor of 10 in the short term to maintain the current capabilities.
The life cycle of software is a beautiful thing. From a cost, functionality and service point of view, the time has come to find an alternative to accounting in the young-pubescent phase: a bit rough, but with potential and stable in crucial areas.
Within the Dutch market this is not easy; oddly enough, most commonly used packages are all at the end of their life cycle at the same time: super-stable, sometimes expensive, not innovative and panning out. The gaze was therefore turned outward. From eminences grises in the accounting and ERP world came the advice to consider Odoo. A limited number of other packages were also mentioned, but significantly less frequently.
Odoo was previosly called OpenERP and earlier even as “tinyERP”, although on a different technical foundation. Ten years ago a trial was done with OpenERP; the conclusion then was: a “baby.” But this baby seems to have grown into a handsome powerful young adolescent who wants to move forward and is also actually moving forward. In terms of technical architecture, it seems to be largely free from “technical debt” and well modularized based on metadata. Technology is generally not important, were it not for the fact that this eliminates many current frustrations: the user interface is flexible, fast and reflects the internal workings.
In terms of functionality, major improvements can be found, such as a better collaboration tools across the supply chain and a great structure for expanding by additional modules without the drag of a huge system (JD Edwards says “hi”). It is also a huge step forward in terms of interfaces/APIs: few limitations in terms of speed, great documentation, full completeness (CRUD) and excellently structured.
Within the 80 platforms supported by Invantive SQL and for example the Power BI connectors there is a large spread of functionality and usage. Drivers are regularly added, but drivers are also regularly put in the run-out phase, for example because they are End of Life. We know the functionality of many connected platforms, but some better than others. Based on knowledge of the current accounting package, we have linked thousands of companies.
It is expected that the Dutch market in terms of accounting packages will be shaken up sometime in the coming years because so many products are in the End of Life phase at the same time. As Invantive we therefore choose to see if Odoo will start to gain a large market share. With more than a million companies already using it, it is also a new large additional market for Invantive internationally.
Invantive’s Odoo drivers in combination with the front-ends will therefore be relatively heavily invested in.
Whether this adolescent can fill our needs for less than 10% of current costs? We will experience that in the course of 2023. The first steps are to migrate for production purposes the knowledge database based on Atlassian Confluence and the marketing tool from Dlvr.it, along with an extended Invantive SQL driver for Odoo.