Guided Tour of Open ERP¶
You’ll now explore the database openerp_ch02 with these profile modules installed to give you an insight into the coverage of the core Open ERP software.
Translating new modules
When you’ve installed a new module and are using additional languages to English you have to reload the translation file. New terms introduced in these modules aren’t translated by default. To do this use Administration ‣ Translations ‣ Load an Official Translation.
Depending on the user you’re connected as the page appears differently from the Main Menu that showed before. Using the installation sequence above, certain dashboards may be assigned as various users’ home pages. They show a summary of the information required to start the day effectively. A project dashboard might contains:
- a list of the next tasks to carry out,
- a list of the next deadlines,
- public notes about projects,
- a planning chart of hours required,
- the timesheet.
Each of the lists can be reordered by clicking on the heading of a column – first in ascending then in descending order as you click repeatedly. To get more information about any particular entry click on the name in the first column, or if you want to show a particular panel click Zoom above it.
Users’ home pages are automatically reassigned during the creation or upgrading of a database. It’s usual to assign a dashboard to someone’s home page but any Open ERP screen can be assigned to the home page of any user.
Each user has access to many menu items throughout all of the available menu hierarchy. But in general an employee uses only a small part of the system’s functions.
So you can define shortcuts for the most-used menus. These shortcuts are personal for each user. To create a new shortcut open the select menu and click on the Add link to the far right of SHORTCUTS.
To change or replace a link click SHORTCUTS. Open ERP then opens a list of editable shortcuts.
The following sections present an overview of the main functions of Open ERP. Some areas are covered in more detail in the following chapters of this book and you’ll find many other functions available in the optional modules. Functions are presented in the order that they appear on the main menu.
To familiarize yourself with Open ERP’s interface, you’ll start work with information about partners. Clicking Partners ‣ Partners brings up a list of partners that were automatically loaded when you created the database with Load Demonstration Data checked.
Search for a partner¶
Above the partner list you’ll see a search form that enables you to quickly filter the partners. Two tabs are available for searching – Basic Search and Advanced Search. The latter simply shows more fields to narrow your selection.
If you’ve applied no filter, the list shows every partner in the system. For space reasons this list shows only the first few partners. If you want to display other records you can search for them or navigate through the whole list using the First, Previous, Next, Last arrows.
By default the list in the GTK client shows only the first 80 records, to avoid overloading the network and the server.
But you can change that limit by clicking the + icon to the left of the search criteria, and you can change the offset so that it starts further down the whole list than the first entry.
Similarly the list in the web client shows only the first 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 records.
The actual number can be switched by clicking on the number and selecting one of the other limits, but you can’t select any other limit (so, unlike the GTK client you can’t select hundreds or thousands).
If you click on the name of a partner the form view corresponding to that partner opens in Read-Only mode. In the list you could alternatively click the pencil icon to open the same form in Edit mode. Once you have a form you can toggle between the two modes by clicking Save or Cancel when in Edit mode and Edit when in Read-Only mode.
When you’re in Read-Only mode you can navigate through the whole list you selected, as though you were in the List view. In Read-Only mode you can also click Search to see the form in List view again.
The partner form contains several tabs, all referring to the current record:
- Suppliers & Customers,
The fields in a tab aren’t all of the same type – some (such as Name) contain free text, some (such as the Language) enable you to select a value from a list of options, others give you a view of another object (such as Partner Contacts – because a partner can have several contacts) or a list of link to another object (such as Categories). There are checkboxes (such as the Active field in the Suppliers & Customers tab), numeric fields (such as Credit Limit) and date fields (such as Date).
The History tab gives a quick overview of things that have happened to the partner – an overview of useful information such as orders, open invoices and support requests. Events are generated automatically by Open ERP from changes in other documents that refer to this partner.
It’s possible to add events manually, such as a note recording a phone call. To add a new event click Create new record. to the right of the Partner Events field. That opens a new Partner Events dialog box enabling an event to be created and added to the current partner.
Actions possible on a partner¶
To the right of the partner form is a toolbar containing a list of possible Reports , Actions, and quick Links about the partner displayed in the form.
You can generate PDF documents about the selected object (or, in list view, about one or more selected objects) using certain buttons in the Reports section of the toolbar:
- Labels : print address labels for the selected partners,
Certain actions can be started by the following buttons in the Actions section of the toolbar:
- Company Architecture : opens a window showing the partners and their children in a hierarchical structure.
- Send SMS : enables you to send an SMS to selected partners. This system uses the bulk SMS facilities of the Clickatell® company http://clickatell.com.
- Mass Mailing : enables you to send an email to a selection of partners.
Reports, Actions and Links in the GTK client
When you’re viewing a form in the GTK client, the buttons to the right of the form are shortcuts to the same Reports, Actions and Links as described in the text. When you’re viewing a list (such as the partner list) those buttons aren’t available to you. Instead, you can reach Reports and Actions through two of the buttons in the toolbar at the top of the list – Print and Action.
Partners are used throughout the Open ERP system in other documents. For example, the menu Sales Management ‣ Sales Orders ‣ All Sales Orders brings up all the Sales Orders in list view. Click the name of a partner rather than the order number on one of those lines and you’ll get the Partner form rather than the Sales Order form.
Right clicks and shortcuts
In the GTK client you don’t get hyperlinks to other document types. Instead, you can right-click in a list view to show the linked fields (that is fields having a link to other forms) on that line.
In the web client you’ll see hyperlink shortcuts on several of the fields on a form that’s in Read- Only mode, so that you can move onto the form for those entries. When the web form is in Edit mode, you can instead hold down the control button on the keyboard and right-click with the mouse button in the field, to get all of the linked fields in a pop-up menu just as you would with the GTK client.
You can quickly try this out by going to any one of the sales orders in Sales Management ‣ Sales Order ‣ All Sales Orders and seeing what you can reach from the Customer field on that sales order form using either the web client with the form in both read-only and in edit mode, or with the GTK client.
Before moving on to the next module, take a quick look into the Partners ‣ Configuration menu, particularly Partner Categories and Localisation menus. They contain some of the demonstration data that you installed when you created the database.
The chapters in General Accounting in this book are dedicated to general and analytic accounting. A brief overview of the functions provided by these modules is given here as an introduction.
Accounting is totally integrated into all of the company’s functions, whether it’s general, analytic, budgetary or auxiliary accounting. Open ERP’s accounting function is double-entry and supports multiple company divisions and multiple companies, as well as multiple currencies and languages.
Accounting that’s integrated throughout all of the company’s processes greatly simplifies the work of entering accounting data, because most of the entries are generated automatically while other documents are being processed. You can avoid entering data twice in Open ERP, which is commonly a source of errors and delays.
So Open ERP’s accounting isn’t just for financial reporting – it’s also the anchorpoint for many of a company’s management processes. For example if one of your accountants puts a customer on credit hold then that will immediately block any other action related to that company’s credit (such as a sale or a delivery).
Open ERP also provides integrated analytical accounting, which enables management by business activity or project and provides very detailed levels of analysis. You can control your operations based on business management needs, rather than on the charts of accounts that generally meet only statutory requirements.
Dashboards give you an overview of all the information that’s important to you on a single page. The Dashboards menu gives you access to predefined boards for Financial Management, Manufacturing and Project Management.
Unlike most other ERP systems and classic statistically-based systems, Open ERP can provide dashboards to all of the system’s users, and not just to a select few such as directors and accountants.
Users can each have their own dashboard, adapted to their needs, to enable them to manage their own work effectively. For example a developer using the Project Dashboard can see such information as a list of the next tasks, task completion history and an analysis of the state of progress of the relevant projects.
Dashboards are dynamic, which lets you navigate easily around the whole information base. Using the icons above a graph, for example, you can filter the data or zoom into the graph. You can click on any element of the list to get detailed statistics on the selected element.
Dashboards are adaptable to the needs of each user and each company.
Construction of dashboards
Open ERP contains a dashboard editor. It lets you construct your own dashboard to fit your specific needs using only a few clicks.
In Open ERP, product means a raw material, a stockable product, a consumable or a service. You can work with whole products or with templates that separate the definition of products and variants.
For example if you sell t-shirts in different sizes and colors:
- the product template is the “T-shirt” which contains information common to all sizes and all colors,
- the variants are “Size:S” and “Color:Red”, which define the parameters for that size and color,
- the final product is thus the combination of the two – t-shirt in size S and color Red.
The value of this approach for some sectors is that you can just define a template in detail and all of its available variants briefly rather than every item as an entire product.
Example Product templates and variants
A product can be defined as a whole or as a product template and several variants. The variants can be in one or several dimensions, depending on the installed modules.
For example, if you work in textiles, the variants on the product template for “T-shirt” are:
- Size (S, M, L, XL, XXL),
- Colour (white, grey, black, red),
- Quality of Cloth (125g/m2, 150g/m2, 160g/m2, 180g/m2),
- Collar (V, Round).
This separation of variant types requires the optional module product_variant_multi. Using it means that you can avoid an explosion in the number of products to manage in the database. If you take the example above it’s easier to manage a template with 15 variants in four different types than 160 completely different products. This module is available in the addons-extra list (it had not been updated, at the time of writing, to work in release 5.0 of Open ERP).
The Products menu gives you access to the definition of products and their constituent templates and variants, and to price lists.
In Open ERP a consumable is a physical product which is treated like a stockable product except that stock management isn’t taken into account by the system. You could buy it, deliver it or produce it but Open ERP will always assume that there’s enough of it in stock. It never triggers a procurement exception.
Open a product form to see the information that describes it. Several different types of product can be found in the demonstration data, giving quite a good overview of the possible options.
Price lists (Products ‣ Pricelists) determine the purchase and selling prices and adjustments derived from the use of different currencies. The Default Purchase Pricelist uses the product’s Cost field to base a Purchase price on. The Default Sale Pricelist uses the product’s List Price field to base a Sales price on when issuing a quote.
Price lists are extremely flexible and enable you to put a whole price management policy in place. They’re composed of simple rules that enable you to build up a rule set for most complex situations: multiple discounts, selling prices based on purchase prices, price reductions, promotions on whole product ranges and so on.
You can find many optional modules to extend product functionality through the Open ERP website, such as:
- membership : for managing the subscriptions of members of a company,
- product_electronic : for managing electronic products,
- product_extended : for managing production costs,
- product_expiry : for agro-food products where items must be retired after a certain period,
- product_lot_foundry : for managing forged metal products.
Open ERP’s Human Resources Management modules provide such functionality as:
- management of staff and the holiday calendar,
- management of employment contracts,
- benefits management,
- management of holiday and sickness breaks,
- managing claims processes,
- management of staff performance,
- management of skills and competencies.
Most of these functions are provided from optional modules whose name starts with hr_rather than the core hr module, but they’re all loaded into the main Human Resources menu.
The different issues are handled in detail in the fourth part of this book Effective Management of Operations, dedicated to internal organization and to the management of a services business.
The various sub-menus under Stock Management together provide operations you need to manage stock. You can:
- define your warehouses and structure them around locations and layouts of your choosing,
- manage inventory rotation and stock levels,
- execute packing orders generated by the system,
- execute deliveries with delivery notes and calculate delivery charges,
- manage lots and serial numbers for traceability,
- calculate theoretical stock levels and automate stock valuation,
- create rules for automatic stock replenishment.
Packing orders and deliveries are usually defined automatically by calculating requirements based on sales. Stores staff use picking lists generated by Open ERP, produced automatically in order of priority.
Stock management is, like accounting, double-entry. So stocks don’t appear and vanish magically within a warehouse, they just get moved from place to place. And, just like accounting, such a double-entry system gives you big advantages when you come to audit stock because each missing item has a counterpart somewhere.
Most stock management software is limited to generating lists of products in warehouses. Because of its double-entry system Open ERP automatically manages customer and suppliers stocks as well, which has many advantages: complete traceability from supplier to customer, management of consigned stock, and analysis of counterpart stock moves.
Furthermore, just like accounts, stock locations are hierarchical, so you can carry out analyses at various levels of detail.
Customer and Supplier Relationship Management¶
Open ERP provides many tools for managing relationships with partners. These are available through the CRM & SRM menu.
CRM & SRM
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, a standard term for systems that manage client and customer relations. SRM stands for Supplier Relationship Management, and is commonly used for functions that manage your communications with your suppliers.
The concept of a “case” is used to handle arbitrary different types of relationship, each derived from a generic method. You can use it for all types of communication such as order enquiries, quality problems, management of a call center, record tracking, support requests and job offers.
Open ERP ensures that each case is handled effectively by the system’s users, customers and suppliers. It can automatically reassign a case, track it for the new owner, send reminders by email and raise other Open ERP documentation and processes.
All operations are archived, and an email gateway lets you update a case automatically from emails sent and received. A system of rules enables you to set up actions that can automatically improve your process quality by ensuring that open cases never escape attention.
As well as those functions, you’ve got tools to improve the productivity of all staff in their daily work:
- a document editor that interfaces with OpenOffice.org,
- interfaces to synchronize your contacts and Outlook Calendar with Open ERP,
- an Outlook plugin enabling you to automatically store your emails and their attachments in a Document Management System integrated with Open ERP,
- a portal for your suppliers and customers that enables them to access certain data on your system.
You can implement a continuous improvement policy for all of your services, by using some of the statistical tools in Open ERP to analyze the different communications with your partners. With these, you can execute a real improvement policy to manage your service quality.
The management of customer relationships is detailed in the second section of this book (see Managing Customer Relationships).
Purchase management enables you to track your suppliers’ price quotations and convert them into Purchase Orders as you require. Open ERP has several methods of monitoring invoices and tracking the receipt of ordered goods.
You can handle partial deliveries in Open ERP, so you can keep track of items that are still to be delivered on your orders, and you can issue reminders automatically.
Open ERP’s replenishment management rules enable the system to generate draft purchase orders automatically, or you can configure it to run a lean process driven entirely by current production needs.
Open ERP’s project management tools enable you to handle the definition of tasks and the specification of requirements for those tasks, efficient allocation of resources to the requirements, project planning, scheduling and automatic communication with partners.
All projects are hierarchically structured. You can review all of the projects from the menu Project Management ‣ All Projects. To view a project’s plans, select a project line and then click Print. Then select Gantt diagram to obtain a graphical representation of the plan.
You can run projects related to Services or Support, Production or Development – it’s a universal module for all enterprise needs.
Project Management is described in Internal Organization and Project Management.
Open ERP’s production management capabilities enable companies to plan, automate, and track manufacturing and product assembly. Open ERP supports multi-level bills of materials and lets you substitute subassemblies dynamically, at the time of sales ordering. You can create virtual sub- assemblies for reuse on several products with phantom bills of materials.
BoMs, routing, workcenters
These documents describe the materials that make up a larger assembly. They’re commonly called Bills of Materials or BoMs.
They’re linked to routings which list the operations needed to carry out the manufacture or assembly of the product.
Each operation is carried out at a workcenter, which can be a machine, a tool, or a person.
Production orders based on your company’s requirements are scheduled automatically by the system, but you can also run the schedulers manually whenever you want. Orders are worked out by calculating the requirements from sales, through bills of materials, taking current inventory into account. The production schedule is also generated from the various lead times defined throughout, using the same route
The demonstration data contains a list of products and raw materials with various classifications and ranges. You can test the system using this data.
The Sales Management menu gives you roughly the same functionality as the Purchase Management menu – the ability to create new orders and to review the existing orders in their various states – but there are important differences in the workflows.
Confirmation of an order triggers delivery of the goods, and invoicing timing is defined by a setting in each individual order.
Delivery charges can be managed using a grid of tariffs for different carriers.
Open ERP integrates a complete document management system that not only carried out the functions of a standard DMS, but also integrates with all of its system-generated documents such as Invoices and Quotations. What’s more it keeps all of this synchronized.
Many documents have a workflow of their own, and also take part in cross-functional processes. Take a document that could be expected to have a workflow, such as a Sales Order, and then click the Process button above its form to see the full process.
You can see the position of that particular document in its process, if you have selected a single document, by the solid bar on one of the process nodes. You also link to documents and menus for each of the stages.
There is a clear distinction between a cross-functional process (that is currently only shown in the web client) and the detailed document workflow (that is shown in both the web client from a process node, and the GTK client from the Plugins > Execute a Plugin... menu and clicking either the Print Workflow or the the Print Workflow (Complex) option.
Alongside the document management system, the process visualization features make Open ERP far better for documentation than similar systems.
You’ve been through a brisk, brief overview of many of the main functional areas of Open ERP. Some of these – a large proportion of the core modules – are treated in more detail in the following chapters.
You can use the menu Administration ‣ Modules Management ‣ Modules ‣ Uninstalled modules to find the remaining modules that have been loaded into your installation but not yet installed in your database. Some modules have only minor side-effects to Open ERP (such as base_iban), some have quite extensive effects (such as the various charts of accounts), and some make fundamental additions (such as multi_company).
But there are now more than three hundred modules available. If you’ve connected to the Internet, and if your addons directory is writable as described at the beginning of this chapter, you can download new modules using the menu Administration ‣ Modules Management ‣ Update Modules List.
A brief description is available for each module, but the most thorough way of understanding their functionality is to install one and try it. So, pausing only to prepare another test database to try it out on, just download and install the modules that appear interesting.