Yes, free and open-source software (FOSS) is free to download, free to use. But using software is never cost-free. There are always going to be costs and fees that need to be considered before adoption of any kind of software, commercial or open-source.
With that said, free and open-source software can sometimes be more cost-effective than commercial systems. You just have to figure out which software is better for your organization in terms of your requirements and budget.
To assist you in estimating the cost of adopting OpenBoxes, here are some startup and operational costs that you should take into account. Total Cost of Ownerships (TCO) estimates should look out over a period of between 3-5 years in order to accurately compare costs between open-source (which may have heavy maintenance costs) and commercial systems (which may have heavy upfront and licensing costs).
This is all really complicated. Therefore, we'd be happy to discuss these costs with you to help you figure out whether OpenBoxes is the right fit for your organization. We can also help you find implementation and development partners that can accompany you through the adoption process.
TL;DR: OpenBoxes is free to download and use, but nothing is ever really free.
Sample Cost Analysis
The following table depicts sample costs for a relatively small implementation (i.e. ~2 months, 5-10 users). These are just hypothetical costs. In other words, these are costs you might see if require assistance implementing a system like OpenBoxes. Actual costs might be less for smaller implementations that you can primarily complete yourself. In addition, costs might be much higher (up to 5x) if there's a lot of complexity involved in implementing your workflows (i.e. customization and integration).
Migrate data from another ERP system using Excel exports.
Includes costs of exporting, cleaning, and importing data.
Minimal customization to implement workflows
Typical implementation costs range from 25,000 USD for a small project to over 100,000 USD for a larger one.
Includes remote implementation
If an on-premise implementation is required, you should budget for travel costs for the implementation team.
Includes remote training for up to 5 users with a single trainer.
If interested in on-premise training should budget for travel costs.
Excludes integration with other systems
Typical costs might be 2-3 times higher with complex integration and data replication requirements.
Excludes support costs
For Professional Support, expect to pay an additional $5,000-15,000 per year and/or budget for your own support and IT staff.
|Configuration / Implementation||Startup||The costs involved in installing, configurating and testing the software as well as implemeting your organization's workflows. This can usually be done in-house but may require external resources in cases where technical experise is not available. This should also include the cost of data backup / restoring processes and contingency plans if the software becomes unavailable due to power/Internet outages and hardware failures.||$2600 / week||4 weeks||$10,400|
|Training||Startup||The cost to train employees to use the software, which may include training materials like documentation, tutorials, videos, etc. This will likely be an on-going cost as you'll have to train new employees and update training materials as the software evolves.||$600 / half-day session||3 days||$1,800|
|Data Migration||Startup||If your organization is using another software system (even if it's just Excel) to manage your supply chain data you'll probably want to move that data to OpenBoxes. In either case, you will need to export (e.g. download as CSV), transform (e.g. re-format the data to be imported), clean (e.g. remove duplicate and obsolete data) and most importantly test your data before you can start using the new system. This process can range from manual data-entry to automated data importing using APIs and other data migration tools.||$1250 / week||2 weeks||$2,500|
|Development||Startup||Hopefully OpenBoxes does everything you need. But let's be honest, it probably doesn't. Therefore, you may want to hire a developer to build new features or fix bugs. For the sake of this exercise let's say you need to develop two (2) custom features, each about a weeks worth of work.||$150 / hour||80 hours||$5,200|
|Integration||Startup||At some point your organization may want to ingrate with an external system like accounting software. Integration costs depend on how complicated it will be to communicate between the two systems. Today, most software utilize REST APIs to facilitate communication between systems while older systems use EDI (electronic data interchange). Integration costs should also include updates to standard operating procedures (SOPs) which may require re-training.||$150 / hour||0 hours||$0.00|
|Cloud Hosting||Operational||Whether you want to host OpenBoxes in the cloud (AWS, Heroku, Digital Ocean) or on on-premise (e.g. your personal laptop or a beefy server you just bought), hosting software can be somewhat cheap or really expensive. A relative cheap cloud-hosting option will run you about $20 per month while a dedicated cloud hosting solution may cost hundreds per month. In addition, you also need to pay for other services like SMTP, Server Monitoring, Data Backup. This could easily cost $250-500 per month.||$250 / month||12 months||$3,000|
|Staffing||Operational||You may not need to hire anyone, but the time spent on using and supporting the software should be factored into the total cost of ownership. IT staffing capacity (sysadmins, developers) is an important consideration here. Depending on your user support requirements you may need to hire full-time staff to provide support.||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Support||Operational||The cost of supporting users who use the software on a daily basis, from IT support (restarting servers) to application-related help desks (debugging issues with the software).||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|Year 1||Total first-year startup and operational costs shown above.||$23,700|
|Year 2||Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (80 hours @ $5200).||$8,200|
|Year 3||Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (40 hours @ $2600)||$5,600|
|Year 4||Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (40 hours @ $2600)||$5,600|
|Year 5||Fifth year costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), no custom development.||$3,000|
NOTE If after performing a cost analysis you notice that your customization / integration costs represent a larger portion of your implementation costs than expected, you might be looking at the wrong software. In other words, it's ok if you plan on customizing the software over the course of ownership, but if you need to do a lot of upfront customization just to meet your basic requirements, then there's a change that the software is not suitable for your needs. If that's the case, please don't hesitate to ask us for alternatives.