Free Open-Source Software for Small Businesses
In this ICTs for Everything era, even if you’re not running a technology company, technology is integral to your business. For a small business to manage customer communications, multiple projects, and company finances requires certain software applications. On one hand, these tools improve productivity and efficiency. On the other hand, they can be costly, maybe too costly, for a small business or startup.
Microsoft Office 2013 for Home and Business costs about $220. QuickBooks, the widely-used accounting management software, costs $320 per year on average. Microsoft Project can make project management easier, but at a price tag of $460, it’s not that easy for all small businesses to swallow.
Small businesses are faced with purchasing costly software applications to boost productivity. But here’s the good news – now there’s an easy way to increase productivity and save on costs! The answer – swap out costly software for free open-source software alternatives.
Free Open-Source Software
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available to users and open to study and change by anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software is developed in a collaborative, public manner, much like user-generated content.
Open-source software has become one of the most dynamic and rapidly growing sectors of information communication and technologies. A survey by Standish Group shows that free open-source software has saved $60 billion per year for consumers worldwide since 2008. Open-source software provides tremendous opportunities for small and medium businesses. Here are three free open-source software applications most commonly used by small and medium enterprises today.
Few people will doubt that word processing software has become an integrated part of office life. Working without Word, PowerPoint and Excel is unimaginable for many people. The open-source software, LibreOffice, provides exactly the same functionality as its Microsoft counterpart except for one thing. It’s Free. Making this transition is easy because everything is similar to Microsoft Office. Users can view and edit Microsoft Office documents through LibreOffice, and documents generated on LibreOffice can also be viewed and edited on Microsoft Office.
The importance of having a good accounting management system cannot be over-emphasized for any business. Many small businesses are using QuickBooks to keep track of their finances. Now, that could all change. Business owners can get the same capability for free. TurboCASH does not provide just basic features such as debtor/creditor management and bank reconciliations. Users can reconfigure the system for different currencies and industries to meet their own special business needs.
Running multiple projects at the same time can be a daunting task for a small business. A project management software that helps to keep everything on the right track is imperative. It makes budget management and allocating resources much easier. Companies spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on their ERP system. But small businesses can now implement their own solutions. OpenProj provides all the functionality as its expensive counterparts. What’s more, its open source nature enables users to add or delete any desired or unwanted functions.
Turning to free open-source software not only reduces costs, but it is a completely new way of utilizing information communication technologies (ICTs). Rather than take what is given, small businesses can get just what they need. This on-demand consumption is becoming a trend that will change the whole ICT business model. Try the free software introduced here and experience the big value it can add to your small business.
Thomas has an education in electrical engineering and background in software development.