I think I can give you a pretty honest comparison between Odoo and ERPNext, though I’m probably a little biased toward ERPNext. I haven’t used Odoo in a while (the last version I used was 9), but I think I have a pretty good handle on what Odoo is and what ERPNext is. I’m a current user of ERPNext. For background, I was the ops manager at a couple of companies using QuickBooks Desktop that completely outgrew it in short order - not that QB is ever a great option for companies that make things - but with some pretty big resistance from accounting for a switch to something else.
As a sidenote, I’m no longer involved with a company that manufactures or that has inventory, so I can’t answer specific questions about most of your use cases as I haven’t used manufacturing or inventory modules in either ERP. I can give you the 10,000 ft view of each, I think, though.
I’m assuming since you’re looking at the hosted version of ERPNext, you’re comparing it to the same offering from Odoo. Through version 8 of Odoo, it was a lot like ERPNext. All of it was open source. The only difference between the community version and the enterprise version was the option to let Odoo host and support plans. Starting with version 9, the community and enterprise versions diverged. They like to say that the community version and the enterprise version aren’t all that different. They say the enterprise version is 80% open source and 20% proprietary. The only problem is the good stuff is in that remaining 20%. So if you’re looking at the hosted version, you’ll get that 20% of good stuff (I have used both the hosted enterprise version and the self-hosted community version).
Now I’ll segue for a second. The Odoo app store has something like 4.2 trillion apps. There’s functionality you can bolt on for many, many things. Odoo basically offers three tiers:
- Self-host the community version
- Self-host the enterprise version
- Use the enterprise version on their cloud
There’s also hosting on odoo.sh. I don’t know anything about this or how it works with 3rd party apps.
Since going proprietary with the 20%, they’ve been trying to include all the popular features inside of the cloud version from the app store (which is partially free and partially paid apps). However, if you are on their cloud, you can’t install any of the 3rd-party apps from the app store. If the functionality you need is there, great! If it’s not, you’re out of luck - you can’t extend functionality with something that has already been developed and is available in the Odoo app store.
That being said, you might find that Odoo has the functionality you’re looking for built-in, but if you need to customize, you’ll have to self-host (this includes with the enterprise version - self-hosting allows you to install 3rd-party apps or apps you develop whether using community or enterprise). I do think their manufacturing module is further along, especially given the features you listed that you need, than is ERPNext’s.
If you decide to go the Odoo route, need further customization to fit your business processes, and decide to self-host, then you can definitely develop those features. I will say, though, that Odoo’s code and backend are a bit of a hot mess compared to Frappe and ERPNext. Odoo functions fine for an end-user, but a developer would tell you the backend is held together with duct tape and baling wire. Brian said that ERPNext is a web framework first and an ERP second. That is completely true. Some of the things you need aren’t there. But getting them in there will be a good bit easier in ERPNext than Odoo because of this.
Given you might have to self-host to get a QB integration like some of those on their app store (unless you can do this now with odoo.sh), I’ll stress that enterprise is the only way to go. Not only for the features, but migration from one version to another is included with enterprise. There’s a lot of friction moving to a new version with the community version.
ERPNext has called itself a “monolith” for years. What they meant was, all the features were included in the ERP. There’s even full verticals in ERPNext, like agriculture and retail (healthcare was in there until it was pulled out recently). Basically, they wanted an environment where all features were under the hood and development was concentrated on improving Frappe/ERPNext’s core instead of a million piecemeal apps. Right now, they’re in the process of shifting gears a bit and making it more modular. I think the eventual goal is for just about every module (and definitely the verticals) to be broken out where they can stand alone.
At the same time, with the introduction of Frappe Marketplace recently, custom apps are being encouraged. Hopefully we’ll see more apps that fit regional and industry-specific needs.
It’s definitely missing some of the features you need, but let’s focus on what’s good to start with. ERPNext is designed to be good at the core functions every business needs. This whole idea that because it’s open source it needs to be hacked to a specific company’s mold is kind of the notion it tries to avoid. 90% of the time, your processes will probably follow its workflows.
With that being said, if you’re in a specific industry that operates a little differently or have some other specific requirements, ERPNext is super-easy to customize for the functionality that is there. You have lots of options for modifying whatever you’re dealing with across the platform… You can make it behave how you want from the front-end with no code. I will say, it takes a bit of getting used to the power that comes with ERPNext, but you’ll end up with a few power users where somebody in manufacturing can be like, “Hey Jan, how can I make it do this?” And Jan can modify it for that particular process pretty easily (or show them how).
As far as upgrading, the Frappe team doesn’t introduce any intentional friction. If you don’t have any custom apps, then you’ll have a seamless upgrade more than likely. If you do have custom apps, they may work on the newer version or might need some tweaking if something in ERPNext or Frappe got completely reworked. For instance, there’s custom apps out there, like POS Awesome, that work on both 12 and 13.
If you were to develop a custom app, it can be installed on ERPNext’s enterprise hosting, Frappe Cloud, or a self-hosted deployment fairly effortlessly.
Once you use it a bit, it’s an extremely intuitive system. You will totally need some additional features for what you want to achieve, but I think in the long run, you’ll be happier in an investment with this than anything else if you have the budget and time for it.
I’m a bit of an enthusiast for this ERP (if you haven’t noticed) and this is only my opinion, but given the rapid changes Odoo has seen on their sales and marketing side, it looks like their primary motivation is revenue growth. I think that’s an environment where things could look quite differently in just a few years as far as what a company’s ERP spend looks like. Frappe is obviously a for-profit organization, too, but I think they have other motivations and values in addition to revenue growth that lends an air of stability to what things will look like with Frappe/ERPNext down the road.
There’s other ramifications for this divergence in values and paths. I felt a little burnt when Odoo went proprietary with virtually all new features. I don’t mind paying for something I find value in, but at this point, calling it open source is just a marketing gimic. I found ERPNext refreshing. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that Odoo will change its path of making all new things (and old things it can get its hand on) proprietary. I likewise don’t see ERPNext changing its path: it will be a cold day in Miami when pigs fly before ERPNext starts fracturing and closing its system off. They’re exploring all sorts of options (one of which is Frappe Cloud, which is awesome!) for how to best monetize their products, but they’ve made it clear they’re all-in on FOSS. They support not only their own projects but do a ton to foster FOSS development in general. If they were in the US, they would be a B-Corp. They’re definitely someone you feel good trading with because they have an awesome culture. They treat their employees well, their employees want to be there and contribute, and they care about the world around them.
If you’re considering working on ERPNext, everything you want on the manufacturing and inventory end would certainly make the manufacturing module more robust, so you may want to reach out to @umair. He offered to provide some direction to someone wanting to add a feature in this thread. It may be something Frappe would have an interest helping with to have it in the core.
I don’t want to discount what Brian said, though, that what you want to achieve would be a really big undertaking, but I thought I would share my two cents on what I know about these two ERPs.