Understand the world of free software

When in the world of proprietary software there is a rumor that an SME or any company (the bigger the better) requires an ERP, it is certain that lots of commercials will appear, dressed in their suits and ties trying to “sell” their solution as the best.

If necessary, to “sell”, they will go 2 or 3 times to the client’s house. They will carry out the commercial deployment that is necessary. In each session they will show you some beautiful power points with graphics and colors … that are very engaging and give the appearance of professionalism. What matters is… that the client signs the contract. They can afford this commercial display. The annual licensing costs cover this and the necessary merchandising (it is very common for them to deliver folders, pens, mechanical pencils and various gifts with their name on each visit to each of the meeting attendees). All of this seems perfect to me. In the end, the customer is the one who decides to sign a contract with a company. Each one sees which is the best option and if he has signed, it will be that he has thought about it and has chosen well.

But all this leads us to the fact that there are Clients who expect exactly this from us. Coming from that world, they are shocked that to make a demo of more than an hour we charge for the service. That sometimes we refuse to go to their offices and offer at most remote demos and above all … they are shocked that we do not present any bunting and that we go straight to the point by showing the application. But it is simply that this does not work like that. We are mostly freelancers and small businesses where practically all of us work on an hourly basis. We do not give away folders or pens and normally if we go, it is because we see the project more or less clearly.

This is free software, that is, we do not “sell” software. We offer a comprehensive solution on which we offer our services. We do not take a margin for implementing OpenERP. We do not charge exorbitant monthly / annual maintenance fees per user and position. We invoice the hours we work, whether for installing, updating, programming, teaching how to use the tool, for functional doubts, for technical resolution of bugs … for any service that is required around OpenERP or any of the other software platforms free with whom we also work. Simple as this. Therefore, in order to give good service to the Clients that we already have, we cannot dedicate many hours of our time to those who are not yet.

And the Client who does not understand this concept is better to sign a contract of 5 or 6 figures with a company of traditional software to use.

Last Monday a potential Client asked me … What guarantee can you give me that this works? My answer: None. It is free software. It does not carry a guarantee, you do not pay for it. If you have an error and you want it to be fixed NOW … you pay for its fix either with a technical maintenance contract, or by the hour. And if you prefer to wait for someone of their own accord to fix it, you report it and wait. If it really is a bug, it will be fixed sooner or later. What nobody assures is… when.

Anyone might think that this is not the right answer to “sell” something. But it is the truth. It is so. We cannot say otherwise. And again … the Client decides. If you are scared at that moment, you don’t know the world of free software. If you assume it and accept it. Welcome to the club. We will be happy to offer you our services.

Therefore … in this world, despite everything, you can survive without a maintenance contract (although it is not recommended unless you have technicians in your own company) but … And with proprietary software. how does it work? yes … possibly the bugs are covered by some kind of fee, but in the end, you report the error and wait for them to pack and publish the new version, according to the update schedule of the Motherhouse. I mean, you have to wait. Same.

On rare occasions and if the error is very serious, they quickly put a patch to fix it. But what if you don’t pay this fee? Well, nothing is fixed for you, nor is it ever updated (this, if they let you continue using the application, that some or that). And if the software is closed on top, you or your technicians can’t fix it either. Read the fine print because I do not know any and I say no software manufacturer that guarantees that their program is free of errors … simply, because it is not possible. The software for being software (not for being free or proprietary) has errors and is always improvable. Forever. Without exception. Even if a 6-figure contract is paid for it.

So where is the difference? What guarantee can they give you? Likewise … none. But yes … they cannot answer this, because they would simply and possibly “lose the sale”, their contract and their commission.

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