Of course, the devil’s in the details: there’s inventory to manage, backorders to fulfill, outstanding invoices to collect, orders to process, bills to pay, and customers to service. The goal of business may be simple enough — but the business of running a business is anything but.
Fortunately, computers are a natural for the back office, and software to manage a business — called customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource management (ERP) software — has become a big business in itself. SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and Microsoft charge plenty of beans for bean counting software. For example, Microsoft’s Great Plains Software division charges $50,000 for a license, $100,000 for implementation, and $20,000 a year for maintenance.
But just as Linux has provided a free alternative to proprietary operating systems like Windows and Solaris, Compiere, this month’s "Project of the Month," provides an open source alternative to commercial CRM and ERP solutions. link