Cloud storage applications, backup solutions, productivity apps, scheduling tools, communication platforms – the list goes on. Any modern enterprise uses a heavy mix of these (and other) technologies, in the form of installed, on cloud, or on premise hosted applications, varying in complexities. The common undercurrent to all of these is the fact that these are indispensable, and that they are fairly expensive. The result – a CIO always lives with a fine headache related to annual IT applications licensing and installation costs, apart from maintenance and upgrades. Is there any alternative, then, given that these applications are a must-have for organizations? The answer is a resounding YES. The keywords to remember – open source. Let’s tell you more about free open-source software that can help small businesses start experiencing the power of process automation and digitization, without the accompanying expenditures. Office productivity suites A couple of points to ponder: – Small businesses rarely need to reach out to Microsoft for support on MS Office. – Small business document management does not require advanced Office features Why then, would you want to spend heavily on MS Office licenses for your organization? Check out these open source and free alternatives. Of course, their feature range is not nearly as expansive as that of MS Office, but they get the job done, and do so without costing a dime, and with complete compatibility with commonly used file formats. – Apache OpenOffice: Compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS, this application is an intuitive office documentation package. – LibreOffice: Brought to you by Open Document Foundation, this tool is compatible with macOS, Linux, and Windows, and easy to use. – NeoOffice: This is a Java version of renowned OpenOffice application; use it for word, powerpoint, and excel documentation without any hassle. Financial Management, Accounting, and Book-keeping Applications It’s never a great idea to adopt an accounting and financial management suite without due diligence. This caution is what drives purchases of extensive premium finance management applications such as Sage, Quicken, and QuickBooks. Thankfully, there are intuitive, feature rich, and end-user friendly open-source alternatives that have feature such as organization structure mapping, taxation and pricing management, account keeping, dunning, payment rules, reporting, and audits. Here are some useful open source options for small businesses. – GnuCash: For basic accounting, book keeping, accounts tracking, and reconciliations, look no further than this application. It’s compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS. – TurboCASH: If you use Windows, and don’t see changing your OS, this is a great option. Its general ledger maintenance features are easy to understand, transaction postings are intuitive enough, and reporting is value adding for managers. It supports more than 80 international taxation procedures, which makes it a future safe accounting management application. – xTuple: This application takes functionality a step further, and integrates sales management, CRM, and inventory management features into the interface. Pf course, there are extensive ledger, postings, taxation, and reporting management features for accounting, book-keeping, and financial planning. ERP software systems We’re sure the availability of accounting and financial management applications came as a pleasant surprise for you. Wait till you hear more on fully loaded ERP software options, all open source and completely free. This might not be a replacement for SAP or Oracle ERP per day, but trust these open source ERPs to get the job done. – ADempiere: Compatible with macOS, Windows, Linux, and Unix, this ERP comes with power packed material management, plant management, sales management, and financial management features, which make it a wholesome free ERP option. – OFBiz: Coming from development labs of Apache Foundation’s, OFBiz also offers pretty much all basic ERP features, for free. – Odoo: Compatible with Linux and Windows, this ERP offers sales, material management finance, and HR planning features, apart from inexpensive support and unlimited bug fix guarantee. eCommerce Platforms Want to integrate a web store in your business’s sales channel ecosystem? Try out one of these 2 open source and free ecommerce platforms. – OpenCart; It’s ideal for mid-size and large retailers, allowing you to easily create product pages, integrate multiple payment gateways, and add sales and marketing management widgets for better business management. It comes with lifetime support guarantee. – PrestaShop: It’s right up there in competition with OpenCart, and renowned for its pricing and taxation management features, apart from localization options via language translation, multi currency support, etc. You can avail support by paying a small amount. Other Open Source Must-Haves We’re not done yet; let’s tell you about some other amazing free and open source enterprise software packages. Content Management System If you want to manage a sophisticated business portal with regular content updates, advanced features such as memberships and accounts, RSS feeds, social media integration, etc., try out Drupal as an open source platform. Another equally amazing option is WordPress. You can add mesmerizing free design templates and give a professional look and feel to your website. System Performance Analysis VisualVM is one of top 3 java profilers to help your IT team’s developers to analyze system performance and debug production performance issues. This tool, along with JProfiler, and YourKit, is great for tracking CPU usage, CPU sampling, CPU time aggregation, call and memory usage analyses, run garbage collection, and deep call structure analysis. Customer Relationship Management SugarCRM is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS, and offers advanced features for sales force automation, marketing campaign management, and multi-channel customer support, apart from functionalities to manage customer loyalty programs, and to enhance customer lifetime value. Open Source Telephony Forget any expenditure in Private Branch Exchange hardware, when you have open source and free software PBX options, such as Elastix (Linux). It runs on Asterik telephony software, and integrates additional features such as email and instant messaging, apart from fax, translating into a wholesome communications management application for your business. Conclusion Believe us, if you have a clear small to mid-sized IT-business requirement, there is most likely a free open source IT tool to fulfil it, if you look hard enough. Which open source tool do you use for your business? Please let me know in the comments below.