Road to success with ERPNext and Frappe

blog


A read for startups and enterprises, who are looking to leverage ERPNext and Frappe Framework as their core backend transactional and business operations system, to know what are the different challenges / hurdles that they might face in the course, and what it takes to succeed with the platform for all its goodness. Read on.


A Case for ERPNext & Frappe as a promising backend transactional system platform


ERPNext - one of the leading 100% Open Source cloud ERPs and the Frappe Web Framework on which it is built, as it stands today, has drawn tremendous interest and adoption from Startups and Enterprise across the board. Stories of fully bootstrapped startups like Zerodha has a large part of their product success attributed to their early adoption of ERPNext as their backend platform. Large Multi-national Enterprises are now on the foray to the adoption of ERPNext as their primary transactional and operational cloud software.


As much as ERPNext and Frappe is an attractive platform that companies are looking to leverage for it's low code & DIY nature, rich out-of-the-box ERP features, 100% Open Source and all other great capabilities that it comes bundled with in order to rapidly meet all most all imaginable enterprise software requirements at a fraction of the cost in comparison to any proprietary ERP solutions that are there in the market - we having been on the other side helping clients succeed with the platform, very well know how the engine cranks and the different challenges faced in keeping the platform in its best performant state, especially if the scope of your usage of the platform is beyond just the basic DIY configurations.


The beauty of the platform is that it gives you the degree for freedom and flexibility needed to be able to script your enterprise software requirements the way you want to shape your organisational growth.

It is you, who is in control of your business and not the software you adopt.


ERPNext comes bundled with all the modern cloud app building blocks, such as,

  • workflows and automations,
  • REST API integrations & webhooks
  • background jobs,
  • offline capabilities,
  • many popular 3rd party api integrations readily available,
  • low-code development capabilities through the metadata driven end-to-end auto code generation (even with great UI automatically created for any new entity within a few clicks after you decide your table fields),
  • different scalable and cloud native hosting options and much more.
  • Plus all enterprise features and modules for different domains like Accounting, HR, Manufacturing, CRM and much more. (like a kid in a candy store - you go crazy with the feature cover that the software comes with)

With these complexities comes the challenges attached to it - the complex monolithic software stack that it is - one can only image that the the road to success with ERPNext poses its fair share of challenges and without the aid of a collective team consisting of functional, technical and R&D experts, the chances of succeeding with ERPNext implementations is a long shot.


Known Challenges

Listing here some of the known challenges and hurdles that any company trying to boot up ERPNext for the first time (with the goal to leverage it extensively for all the goodness that the software brings to the table):


  1. Installation Setup - anyone who would have tried to setup ERPNext on a vanilla Linux box would have at least ones reached their wits end with all the benching woes. Dependency issues, lack of clear documentation explaining where is what, difference between developer mode and production mode - all of these interfacing with the system through the bench tool might not always go well in the first several tries.
  2. Documentation - Though ERPNext has quite clean documentation and in several languages too, when it comes to specifics of certain integrations - you will end up groping in the dark to some extend. Recently we had a challenge trying to setup the India E-Invoice requirement for a client - though the documentation presents the setup as a set of straight forward steps - we needed to do a lot of searching and code debugging in order to get the feature working as per our client's requirement. Has covered that story in a blog here. Also all documentations are tailored to the ERPNext.com environment specific - and addresses all generic aspects - this might not be what you need when you are trying to self-host ERPNext.
  3. Development - the possibilities, freedom & flexibility that the platform provides is endless for realising any sort of custom requirements, integrations with 3rd party systems. The fast development turn around time that Frappe as a metadata driven framework offers is one of the best aspects of it for rapid web development. Also data engineers and analytic teams love it for its Python based backend development environment. But where the real challenge lies is with the development itself. Compared to other comparable web frameworks like Django or Flask, Frappe lacks any extensive API level documentation coverage - so the best way to learn the framework internals is by looking into the codebase itself and figuring your way around. So if you are a newbie - the tutorials and official documentation serves well in order to get you started, but going deeper requires digging into the framework codebase and working your way through in order to gain advanced level of understanding of the framework. Understanding how to override the core behaviours through your custom app by keeping the core code intact, exporting your custom fields and other customisations via fixtures into your app, all of these requires advanced level skills.
  4. Dependancy on Frappe release cycle and hotfix releases for core bugs - when a business critical feature or workflow breaks on your live site due to a core bug or a data issue - the standard procedure incase of a bug is to register the issue in Frappe Github repo and submit a PR for the fix. Then work with a maintainer developer to validate and approve the fix and get the PR merged and finally released. Typically for high priority issues you cant afford to wait for the official Frappe release cycle to make the hotfix in GA. You want a faster turn around time and want your developer to immediately identify that bug and fix it for your live site in order to avoid any rapid adverse business impact for your company.
  5. Scalable Hosting - To get started on ERPNext the standard standalone installation on a 4GB Ubuntu box would suffice - but as you scale, a standalone vertically scalable installation wont do - you need to piece out the different software stack and set it up in a cloud native, horizontally scalable and high available manner. These are non-standard non-OEM supported approaches, but you would need to leverage these setups for being able to sustain it yourself.
  6. Support - Frappe the OEM provides excellent SLA support for the product - however for customised and non-standard requirements that evolve specific to your business, you always need to rely on the open source community support and discuss forums, which has its own share of challenge in getting around and sometimes leaving you frustrated. By now, it is quite apparent that anyone seriously looking at ERPNext as a potential backend transactional platform - better be ready to combat these challenges that the platform poses.

Road to Success

We at Tacten from our years of customer engagements and the learnings from those engagements - has recognised that, in order to succeed with your ERPNext projects - you need a collective team of Consultants, Developers and R&D experts. It is not the forte of any lone-wolf developer out in the wild that you can work with to get you up and running on ERPNext. You need to be a company possessing a verity of skills and most importantly very much entrenched in the community, forum and the Frappe partner eco-system in order to be able to deliver quality service for clients wanting ERPNext.


Bringing together our team strength in a cohesive manner, we at Tacten is pioneering an innovative Client Engagement Model for getting you upto speed with your ERPNext implementations.


Whether you are a startup with in-house tech team, or an enterprise customer looking for a managed service partner - we have a very innovative engagement model that works the most ideal way in a vendor neutral manner. The model is inherently focused on the following 4 aspects:


  1. To stay as loosely coupled as possible - you are on the driver seat and our interest is to stay at arms length from your business, and be the IT vendor supporting with all what it takes for your organisational growth. We admit that we may not know as much as you know about your business and domain from your years of being in the business - but we can pair your business requirements with ERPNext for yielding best digital outcomes.
  2. A plug-n-play model that fosters easy access to our services, without complex services contracts / agreements and any multi year long term commitments either.
  3. Focus toward self-sustaining you - We don't want to tether ourselves with your business, instead we are big believers that better outcomes are certain when you can self sustain your IT. The knowledge you gain (rather what you pay for), is with you and we are very supportive to self sustain you sooner.
  4. Open Source and product enhancement focus - As much as we all benefit from this great software, unless we give back to the open source project - (in terms of contributions to the core, PRs, documentations and many other avenues towards the product improvements and enhancements), we are setting us up for risk at using the very product we rely to run our business. As it is evident from the previous 3 points, that our focus is toward enhancing the product, enabling rapid adoption and self-sustenance, so that the product grows and creates more value for everyone. If our clients are also on the same page with us - we are open to co-develop any interesting use case that can be made generally available as part of a module or feature enhancement in the software. We look out for those opportunities in our client engagements, and those gestures of social good are always welcome from our clients.

Highlights about our Innovative Client Engagement Model

Taking advantage of the DIY, low-code and other agile benefits of ERPNext is inherently unique about - we have operationalised the entire implementation delivery model largely in a remote and touch free manner. We also replace emails to a large extend from our delivery process (unless for any strategic communications), with a very effective SLA based ticketing tool for managing all implementation projects and tasks.


Scope Covered in our ERPNext Client Engagement

ERPNext and Frappe Standard Feature Scope


blog


Non-Standard ERPNext Customisation

blog


Scope Covered in our ERPNext Client Engagement

Model Highlight - a lightweight and a win-win model where 100% of all standard features and functional consulting is taken care of. The model is purely based on our in-house ticketing tool that our clients will get access to within their ERPNext sites - They can the use the tool to raise the implementation tickets with us pertaining to the scope of support as mentioned above and our collective team of developers, consultants will pick it up and put in place the solution for you.


How it works

  1. Dedicated Ticketing tool to post the tickets
  2. We will commit a turnaround time SLA for the task and complete it with-in the specified time frame
  3. A dedicated ERPNext consultant will be assigned to work with you on a daily basis.
  4. Tickets will be resolved by our collective team of consultants in a round-robin fashion within the estimated timeline.
  5. Daily clarification call with the client teams.
  6. Feature after development will be handed over to UAT.
  7. Feature push to production after UAT verification by client.
  8. Monthly committed effort of 120 hours whether used or not.
  9. Provision for purchasing additional ticket hours separately.
  10. Any clarification or trouble shooting over call or chat not exceeding 20min is not counted as a ticket. Only concrete tasks are counted as a ticket.
  11. You benefit significantly from our collective experiences

blog


Model Highlight -

The engagement model is optimised for better results, easy to get started and most of all backed by a collective team working under the hood as we onboard the clients on to ERPNext and see you self-sustain and derive all the benefits the platform offers.


Conclusion

In conclusion if you are startup looking at options to build out your backend transactional systems, ERPNext is a sure bet and saves your a lot of engineering money and fast track your go-to-market approach in unprecedented speed and efficiency.


But the key is getting ERPNext right, going past that initial learning curve - after which things are a smooth sail and your company is setup for great scale and success, all with a fraction of engineering money spent otherwise.


Reach out to us to know more about our engagement model and how we can help you with your ERPNext activations.


A quick intro about us: We are Tacten LLP— a Bangalore-India based ERPNext partner company that offers full line of services around ERPNext and Frappe. We are a team of software developers and domain experts with an obsessive focus on helping our customers exceptionally succeed with ERPNext and Frappe. Our primary area of expertise are in the Manufacturing and Healthcare domain. We have the extensive experience of implementing ERPNext for several domestic and international clients under our belt.

Do share your valudable feedback about this read or any questions about our offerings and services to info@tacten.co