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Can I use Open Office for my new business?

 
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jpaj
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:41 am    Post subject: Can I use Open Office for my new business? Reply with quote

Hi,

I am looking at starting my own business. I am a appliance repair technician with over 20 years of experience.

Long store made short, I have worked for the same place for over 20 years and have started putting a business plan together to start my own appliance repair company.

I will need software that will let me create a billing invoice for my customers and keep track of there history with my company.

For example Mr. Smith calls for service on there refrigerator. I go out to Mr. Smiths and repair there refrigerator and bill them.

The bill I create would have all the info as to what work was done and what parts were used. Along with basic info such as there name, address, phone number and pricing.

When I enter a part number I would like for it to get removed from parts inventory.

So for example when I go to put part #1234 on the invoice it will show me we have ten of part #1234 and after I bill Mr. Smith for one it will correct inventory so next time I look it will show we only have nine of the #1234.

I would guess that in Open Office I can create basic billing invoice like this a save them so I can look back into the customers past history with our company, but were do I start?

Also can I use Open Office to keep track of parts inventory like in the example above or do I need to look at some other program to keep track of parts inventory?

I just downloaded and installed Open Office and ithere is so much to it that I am overwhelmed at this point and have no idea were to start.

If I can get everything together and decide to start my own business it will be over the next year. This should give me lots of time to get everything in order.

Thank you,
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Villeroy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This question is rather unspecific. Of course you can build up a single-user business solution with OpenOffice.org alone, since it includes a database and a versatile concept of templates and styles.
This requires some advanced knowlege. Millions of entrepreneurs worldwide earn their living with this kind of stuff.
Here is a French example of a spreadsheet invoice, connected to a database. I don't like it because it is not localizable easily and the form-in-spreadsheet aproach is too clumsy. Futhermore it covers just a single line of workflow.
http://www.cpserv.net/fr/modeles.php
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hol.sten
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 10:59 am    Post subject: Re: Can I use Open Office for my new business? Reply with quote

jpaj wrote:
I will need software that will let me create a billing invoice for my customers and keep track of there history with my company.

For example Mr. Smith calls for service on there refrigerator. I go out to Mr. Smiths and repair there refrigerator and bill them.

The bill I create would have all the info as to what work was done and what parts were used. Along with basic info such as there name, address, phone number and pricing.

When I enter a part number I would like for it to get removed from parts inventory.

This looks like you need a database. But that's not easy to realize. And I wouldn't recommend OOo Base. Particularly not without connecting to a real database like MySQL.

jpaj wrote:
Also can I use Open Office to keep track of parts inventory like in the example above or do I need to look at some other program to keep track of parts inventory?

As I wrote, I would build something using OOo Base for the GUI (forms) and MySQL as a database.

Regards
hol.sten
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Villeroy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with hol.sten. This is why I wrote "single-user solution with OOo alone". Utilizing a decent database server, such as MySQL, you can implement a multi-user solution, where this office is just one option to access data. Could be a browser or some other suitable software as well.
For instance, the content of this forum is a MySQL database too. There is a program which creates web-content from the database content, when you click on a link or log in. Many users and guests use this forum simultaniously. Users can edit their own postings only. Guests have read-only access. If I had the required permissions I could connect OpenOffice.org to this forum's database directly without browser and type this message into a table or database-form instead of a browser (well, theoretically).
Whatever you may set up by your own: Please, don't save your data in spreadsheets.
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saphil
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I would use Centric's Web-based Workflows, or Zen-cart, so you can use the benefits of a web-based 24-hour sales outlet and have much less invested in development.

One example of Zencart is the (inprogress) http://networkdefense.biz
Zencart is also free of charge. Centric has a cost, but it is about half of the cost of salesforce.com
Might even consider Drupal with the optional eCommerce module.
It is very complete, as well. All three use a real relational database and form-building is pretty simple. This also makes telecommuting for you and your employees easier.

I am pretty much for letting the customers spell their own names and addresses. This saves lots of time and money for your company. This is the stuff I do for a living, when I am not writing security books, so I have seen these kinds of questions before.

Single-stand-alone solutions are going to cost you more than they are worth, even if they are free.
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foxcole
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PlowKing wrote:
It looks like you are in the same vote that I am. Nobody's answering.

It's not reasonable to expect an answer on the same day as a post, let alone within just a couple of hours. Keep in mind that nobody "lives" in these forums---we're all users who have lives and jobs and families and other things to do, and other forums to participate in. Three or four days is a reasonable amount of time to give it before you bump the topic up (add a new comment to it)... and it should be bumped before you label it unanswered.

(Oh... the phrase you want is "in the same boat". Your version is interesting. It seems like it might have resulted from bilingual pronunciation, maybe in a region with deep Hispanic roots. That's of course pure guesswork on my part, but it is interesting to think about.)

PlowKing wrote:
I have some questions somewhat similiar to yours. Maybe you have to have so many posts before your excepted here. Or maybe there just isn't anyone who knows. I'm not sure.

No, that's silly.... Wink Everyone's accepted here if they're not abusing the forum rules.

What usually happens when posts go unanswered is one or more of the following (which are true for all user forums, not just these; and most of which do not actually apply here, they're just reasons that might be useful to know):

- The question isn't asked well. Perhaps it shows evidence that the asker didn't bother searching first for an answer, which is expected of people before they post. Or, perhaps the asker didn't provide enough detail for other people to begin to work with. Sometimes people don't even ask a question... they make a statement of some kind and assume that others can guess what it is they want to know. And sometimes people post rants because they're frustrated and have anger-management problems, or are otherwise rude or unpleasant or abusive, without realizing that they're antagonizing the very people they expect help from.

I know I sometimes pass up poorly formed questions because I don't have time (or energy, or desire) to go play 20 questions with the poster.

- The question wasn't allowed enough time to receive an answer (see above).

- Forum members don't feel like answering for whatever reason, or are hoping that someone else will offer a better answer first. All participation in a user-to-user forum is voluntary and is subject to individual human moods, motivations, and priorities. People answer questions because they want to, not because they have to.

- The forum member who can best answer the question hasn't seen the post... could be any number of reasons for that. Maybe they're out on vacation or away on a business trip or had a death in the family, or haven't had time to check the forum, or they only check once or twice a week... or they live on the opposite side of the globe and won't see the question for several more hours.

- Forum members are taking time to research and test their answer before posting. Not all of my posts are done off the top of my head. I normally ensure my information is correct before I offer it to someone else.

- Nobody knows the answer. (This is rarest, and sometimes it is actually caused by a poorly asked and therefore misunderstood question.)

PlowKing wrote:
Anyways, here is a link that might help
http://www.learnopenoffice.org/tutorials.htm
I'm going to try out as many as I can.

Excellent! There are also user guides in the link in my sig line below.
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Manuals: http://documentation.openoffice.org/manuals/index.html
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PlowKing
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all, I didn't mean to offend anyone in this forum. I frequent many forums to get answers to questions I have. It is usually an easy way to do so.
Second, my post is on the fourth day, and hol.sten has answered with some useful links. Thanks! I noticed that there were over 600 posts since I asked my question, it just felt like there wasn't anyone who was interested in my post. My apologies!!!
Third, finding the answer on your own on this forum is difficult. The layout, to someone new to the forum, is very busy and confusing (not that I get confused easy or anything).

I've recently downloaded OpenOffice after reading an article in PCMagazine. There is so much to learn with using this program. It is quite overwhelming!! I've never used Excel, due to its price tag. My hats off to someone with the cool idea of outdoing Microsoft with an affordable alternative that is every bit as good, or better, than Excel.

By the way, in response to this racial comment, I'm very much white (not that it matters), just too stupid to proofread my post before posting!
Quote:
Oh... the phrase you want is "in the same boat". Your version is interesting. It seems like it might have resulted from bilingual pronunciation, maybe in a region with deep Hispanic roots. That's of course pure guesswork on my part, but it is interesting to think about

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saphil
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back OT
jpaj - has your question been answered at all to your satisfaction?
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noranthon
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest getting advice from someone like saphil. I know someone who has run a business using all free open source software and he also advises. I dare say there are other advisers about. You are better off paying for advice and even software rather than spending a lot of time trying to research the subject yourself and look into all the options and their various advantages and disadvantages.

I imagine your real interest is in the business you intend to run, not in administrative details. Production and marketing will probably be your main concerns. I'd treat software questions as unworthy of a great deal of my time. As you have already discovered, it will take you long enough to learn how to use the software once you've found it. With the right package, your administrative burden will be lighter as well. OO may or may not be part of the package.
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saphil
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Noranthon. It is true, as you say, that business owners, and especially owners of brand new businesses often mistake their purpose as -developing an entirely new system for doing things that there are already open-source packages for (or even proprietary packages Rolling Eyes ).

Trying to be your own software consultant, even if your business is software, may be an expensive mistake. My research system is to run two scenarios, one where I put my time into doing everything myself, and one where I hire it done.

In one spectacular lesson, a few years ago, I had a belt go bad on my car, and
I decided I could do this piece of auto mechanics myself, as I fancy myself a passable mechanic. "How hard can it be to replace a belt?"

As it turned out, I worked for 10 hours on the project before giving in. On that brand of car (Olds 88 LSS), it seemed to require the engine to be entirely removed from the car to replace the belt, as it was threaded through the motor-mount. By the time I had worked on it for 10 hours, I was well aware of the apparent problem, but I didn't have the solution.

I took it to a mechanic down the street. He said he was glad I had not found a way to put the belt on, because I had accidentally purchased the wrong one. He then gave me a cup of coffee, and put the new proper belt on the car in approximately half an hour, which included the time to send for the right belt.

It was obvious I could have saved the 10 hours to use for billable work, or to spend with my family, or even have fun. Now I cheerfully pay experts to do what they are good at.
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noranthon
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One important consideration in choosing software is its access to and use of open and common document standards. I've recently tried two Foss word processors and rejected both, in one case to some extent because of its default standard and its failure to use the open document standard and in the other case because of the software's exclusive use of its own standard which AFAIK no other software recognises.

There's a brief, recent article mentioning this consideration: Open standards 'more important' than open source. I add 'common' to 'open' because even if a standard is 'open', it's of limited use if it is not commonly recognised. For example, a document using AbiWord's default format is not much use if it cannot be opened readily by other software. The widespread use of M$ Office means that many users of OO adopt M$ standards as default for their documents. There's some risk in that if later versions of OO cease to recognise earlier M$ standards. I gather that M$ software does not always recognise older M$ standards. Exclamation That's the problem that has people worried because M$ standards are not open.
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