ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) software has traditionally
been used by large corporates to integrate and automate diverse
departments across the enterprise. For a long time, smaller
companies purchased individual accounting and payroll packages
and then migrated to expensive ERP solutions as they grew. They
did not have much options as ERP solutions were costlier and
required magnitude and many employees to justify their use.
Now, with many Open Source software coming out, it is possible
for SMEs to go in for ERPs at an earlier stage. There are
several in the market including Compiere, ERP5 and Fisterra.
Companies have to carefully study individual requirements and
test out these softwares to determine suitability.
In this article, I would like to review CK-ERP, an
Open Source ERP/CRM system, ideally suited for use by SMEs. It
has a total of 19 modules including accounting ledger, Accounts
Payable, Accounts Receivables, Purchase Order, Sales Order,
Quotation, Point of Sale, Human Resource, Payroll and contact
management. It operates as modules running atop phpGroupWare.
This makes it possible for the software to be easily installed
on Internet if employees are in various locations or on the
Intranet for more secure transactions.
Here is a overview of its excellent features.
Customer Billing process
Any company with more than 10 recurring customers should
seriously consider using an ERP(such as ck-ERP) to keep track of
payments, work orders and related accounting. ck-erp has
ck-Quote (a Quotation module), ck-so(Sales order module) and
ck-ar (Accounts Receivable module) to keep
* Sales reps can key in Work Quotations for customers. The
CK-Quote module allows for easily configurable Quotation
templates which can be printed or emailed to customers.
* Sales reps can easily convert the Quotations to Sales Orders
when work commences. A Sales order serves as a formal record of
a work order and the terms and condition under which the work is
executed sent to a customer. This direct conversion from
Quotation to Sales Order eliminates a lot of extra work typing
out docs. However, it is possible also to manually enter Sales
* At the time of billing, Sales Orders can again be converted
to Invoices. It is possible to create Invoices with or without
Tax. Here again, print and email friendly Official invoices can
be generated. It is also possible to Bulk-Dispatch several
invoices at the same time.
* Want to check out how promptly a customer pays? Simply check
the Billing history which says when a customer was invoiced and
how quickly he has paid you. You can also check Billing
histories of each Sales order.
* Once a customer has been invoiced, it is a easy matter to
record payment receipts. A single invoice can have several
payments. For instance if a customer is invoiced for $1000, he
can pay in parts. It is an easy matter to enter part payments
against any invoice. You can also check out the pending payments
- invoice wise, customer wise and even company wise. An aging
report shows you how much dues you have to get.
* All invoice and payments get automatically integrated with
the General Ledger, making accounting very easy. It is possible
to view related Journal/Ledger entries for each invoice
You can easily enter customer records and configure various
types of tax. The accounts receivables include Accounts
Receivable Aging reports, Customer Invoice Aging reports and
Detailed list of Tax collected.
If you are a Manufacturing company with thousands of customers,
you can consider middle agents like Distributors or C&F agencies
as customers and keep track of their payments using the same
The system is multi-currency and multi-user, allowing each
module multiple access levels.
Inventory and Purchase process
Many companies, especially trading and manufacturing companies
are generally swamped with purchase inventory and vendor
information. Keeping track of vendor payments and paying bills
in time before credit collection agencies call is a major source
of tension. Here is what you can do with ck-erp's purchase
modules - ck-po(Purchase Order module), ck-ap(Accounts Payable
module) and ck-inv(Inventory module) . Lets see how a purchase
* Enter purchase orders to keep track of the service contracts
and products you have purchased.
* The moment you receive the purchased products or service, you
can add it to your inventory using ck-inventory module. Marking
goods receipt, automatically updates the inventory. You can view
your Inventory Balance and In/Out History for each product that
you have in the Inventory. This feature is very useful for
Traders and manufacturers. The inventory is integrated with the
General Ledger, so that increases in the inventory also updates
the Asset value of your company.
* When you receive an invoice from the vendor, you can convert
the Purchase Order into a Vendor Invoice. Maintaining vendor
invoices on the system, reduces your dependency on the email or
paper invoices your vendors keep sending you. You can easily
manage vendor payments and due dates with this system.
* When you make payments, Record full or part payments made
against Vendor invoices.
* You can view at any time, reports on unpaid invoices and
aging reports on the total amounts due per vendor or per
purchase order. The ERP gives you an amazing degree of clarity
on outgoing dues.
* You can maintain Vendor database and configure various kinds
* The Inventory lets you maintain product names and numbers,
Bin/Location information, photos, reorder levels, unit and
weight information, and 3 different
* Inventory adjustments, Assembly information and Alternate
Part/Service information are some other features of ck-inventory.
The accounts section has practically everything one would want.
The core General Ledger module has the basic Double Entry
accounting system with Ledger and Journal. The interesting
aspect of the General Ledger is that it is the base for the
Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory, Bank and the
Payroll modules. The entries from all these modules ultimately
reflect in the General Ledger.
The accounting system has multi-currency support. The admin can
set Standard Remarks for the invoice, purchase orders,
Quotations and so on. The admin can even setup Multiple Ledgers
for various divisions.
A Bank Reconciliation module allows you to reconcile bank
statements with ledger entries.
On the flip side of the Accounts module is the fact that it does
not have the yearly Opening and Closing balances. This makes it
difficult to reconcile yearly accounts. A major flaw, which one
can hope will be corrected in the near future.
Point of Sale(POS)
If you are a supermarket with multiple cashier desks and high
cash transactions, you could use this module. Again the Point of
Sale module is integrated with the General Ledger.
The ck-pos module lets cashiers enter Cash Sales, with or
without tax. A good feature of the POS system is that it allows
Credit Sales as well. Useful when customers insist on Purchase
on Credit, for example in high value goods. Any Credit Sales
entered by the cashiers have to be approved by Manager.
The Manager interface to the POS, ck-pos-m allows a manager to
remotely control all the cashier operations from his office.
* Cashboxes can be setup for each POS counter and each shift.
The manager can setup staff to work at each counter.
* The Manager can for instance view Shift End cash balance per
Counter per shift. . The Manager can for instance view the Shift
End cash balance at Counter 2 at the end of yesterday's morning
* Managers can setup special price plans
* Managers can add Reduction Charges such as special student
discounts, senior citizen discount or Add-On Charge such as
Sunday Surcharges or service charges.
* Managers can configure various payment options for non-cash
options such as Cash Coupons, Exchange Coupon, Cheques and
* Taxes such as VAT, GST, PST can be setup.
* Sales reports
Human Resource Management
HR management software of some sort is required if you have more
than 10 employees, and better still if payroll is integrated
with the General Ledger. CK-ERP has excellent HR management
* Manage employee database including name, staff grades and
roles, photo, address, email, phone and emergency contacts. A
good feature in the HR software is that you are not limited by
the number of phone fields. You can enter unlimited records per
* Employees have their own Staff Self Service , something like
a ``My Account'', which lets them Apply for Leave, enter Time
sheet and attendance details and even request for Expense
reimbursement. As soon as someone applies for leave or for
expense reimbursement, their supervisor gets an email
notification for approval.
* Timesheet and attendance management. Timesheet can be linked
to achievements. For example if you are a PC assembling unit,
employees can record the number of PCs they have assembled per
day or per hour. Sales staff can enter the sales targets they
* Multiple department support
* Record Performance Evaluations per employee
* Expense reimbursement management
* Leave application and leave management.
* Payroll management. Automatic/manual payslips via email. Bank
statement for payroll.
CRM and Contact Management
CK-ERP's latest addition is the CRM package.
* CK-CRM offers Helpdesk management and Sales contact
management(for pre-sales) in a neat package all integrated with
the central Customer database. Sales reps can track the sales
calls and the sales contacts made. Customer relation executives
can check the help calls and the helpdesk contacts made with
* The HelpDesk system is especially beautiful. Customer
relation executives can view the entire Call case History Log
per HelpDesk call, record the customer's state of mind(furious,
angry, pleased, excited), media(email, phone call, meeting) and
the status of contact(research, resolution, followup, closed)
Monitoring officers can be set for each ticket. Priorities(high,
neutral low) and case categories(complaint, suggestion, bug
report) can be setup for each call .
* The CRM is integrated with Quotation, Sales Order and the
Invoice modules as well. This makes it very powerful. Customer
Relation executives and Sales reps can check for instance the
credit rating of the customer, the number of times he has been
Quoted, billing histories and payment made.
* Customer Contracts can be recorded
* Credit Limits can be set per customer
CK-CRM also includes a Contact module for organisational
contacts and individual contacts.
About the author:
Sangeetha Naik heads Bobcares.com, a Tech Support
company for webhosts and ISPs. She is the co-founder of Poornam
Info Vision Ltd., a software and IT services company which
specializes in Linux based solutions for Webhosts and ISPs.
Poornam Info Vision is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company with a
team of over 100 engineers.
Sangeetha is a Computer Engineer based in India and has over 7
years of e
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