· case study · 8 min read

How ERPNext become Next ERP for MH

How ERPNext has been chosen to become the next generation ERP system for MH Notebook Factory when compared with Odoo?

How ERPNext has been chosen to become the next generation ERP system for MH Notebook Factory when compared with Odoo?

MH Notebook Factory is one of the biggest notebook factory in Thailand. The 70+ years old business established 1951, is a well known notebook manufacturer especially for schools all over Thailand. This family business is now under management of the 3rd generation. Although with a lot of legacy processes in place, the management team has been continually improving its IT system, and since last 10 years, Odoo ERP was introduced.

Ecosoft is an IT consulting firm that focus on 100% open source ERP solutions. With Odoo as its long time offering and ERPNext as the latest addition.

As the very first customer, MH and Ecosoft has a kind of special relation. We are more as a partner that will listen to each other suggestion. Ecosoft implemneted their first ERP 10 years ago with Odoo 7. The management team was thrilled to have their business operation truly online.

And yes, implementation went well and it has been serving almost 40,000 invoices a year. Following is how Odoo 7 looks like for MH.

User like it, developers love it. Odoo is a modern framework and it is easy to customize. What was the problem about it?

Business never stop to progress, and ERP system need to evolve. As years flew by, and without any upgrades, the once modern software wasn’t so modern anymore. Soon enough, the system will need a major updates. But with existing system that we have been supporting for years, there are some serious challenges.

The Challenges

The challenges of MH is not about additional business processes. Because at the end implementation, we know we can fill the required business features with whatever ERP we choose. The challenge is more on after finish the implementation, on the long term maintenance and day to day problem solving.

Here we will discuss top 3 threats to longevity of ERP software as we found, and are the reasons that MH decided it need to change.

1) Cannot upgrade to new version

As MH’s ERP is based on Odoo Community Edition, there is no easy way to upgrade. Upgrade only available on Odoo Enterprise Edition which can cause a hefty cost on licensing, and yet apply only to Odoo core (not our customization).

Although OCA has a project called OpenUpgrade that rescue community edition, the bigger challenge lies into Odoo’s software architecture itself. The modular architecture of Odoo framework, is so rigid that make it unlikely that module you develop for older version will be compatible with in newer version of Odoo.

OpenUpgrade is a collective works from community members around the world to migrate only OCA’s modules across versions. But when it comes to your custom modules, you are still on your own.

And with MH, where we did a lot of customization on top of Odoo 7, the upgrade to i.e., Odoo 16 is only to dream of.

2) Long term maintenance is painful

Again, I have no problem with development environment of Odoo. In fact, I love it! As a programmer, I can’t see any other framework come close to developing a custom module that can magically snap into existing business process, get it installed, updates and uninstalled without any worries like Odoo.

Problem is, with a smallest feature changes, require a decent programmer to work in a classical way,

  1. Setup develop environment locally that replicate production state
  2. Code and test in local machine
  3. Push code to github
  4. SSH to login to the server and deploy

During project or sometime after go live, quick fix is not a problem as everything still hot in the programmer’s brain.

But as years passed, small label fix in a form printout can take hours to just setup local running instance and hours to fix and deploy.

Imagine if system (OS, libraries, Odoo, etc) is not updated for another 10 years, it won’t be possible even to setup the local machine to work for such a legacy environment.

3) Fully managed Odoo is too costly (and EE only)

This point is also about modernize infrastructure and ease of maintenance in long term. In the past, managed cloud hosting for ERP was not available, MH has no choice but to maintain hardware infrastructure on site. Programmer connect via SSH when he/she want to deploy a patch. Today, many software including Odoo.sh and Frappe Cloud are great options to host your production securely on the cloud, with utilities that ease developer life while maintaining the software.

And even we decided to surrender to Odoo EE. To use Odoo.sh with minimum spec possible (1 CPU, 25 GB) + user licenses (at 20 users) can cost MH $606.25 / month or $7,272 / year. This cost more than buying branch new high-end spec server every year.

ERPNext came to rescue

We are thankful to MH for give Ecosoft a thrust through its transformation journey and also thank ERPNext for coming at the right place and the right time.

With all the above challenges, MH and Ecosoft were deciding between re-implementing with Odoo 16 CE + OCA or changing to ERPNext once and for all. With a lot of discussion for pros and cons, conclude that all the above challenges will persist with Odoo CE and so we decide to give it a try with ERPNext.

Will discuss into more detail on how ERPNext came to rescue. Here is now the new ERP for MH will look like.

1) Easier upgrade even with custom modules

Frappe Framework (ERPNext is a big module) is not as modular as Odoo, in contrary, it is more monolithic approach. As so, it do not have the problem with dependencies between modules we found in Odoo.

Creating new modules and business features that snap into existing business process is possible through a predefined DocType event (i.e., before insert, after insert, before save, after save, etc…) without worry much about dependencies make it less fine grained integration when compared to Odoo. This loosen integration technique in ERPNext is in trade for a much easier upgrade process than Odoo. Our customized module often not require any changes to fit with next major version of ERPNext.

Can’t go too much into detail here, but I hope you get some sense. In ERPNext, the migration of the entire system is as simple as,

  1. Pull latest code
  2. Run command > bench migrate

2) Easier long term maintenance with low code tools

I previous mentioned how annoying and time consuming it was to fix a label in a form and deploy it to production with Odoo. In ERPNext, after system has gone live, most of the maintaining task can be done effortlessly with many low code tools.

For example, Fixing a form with Print Designer tool

Adding a data field with Customize Form tool

Create or Modify Report / Dashboard

Adding business logics with Server / Client Scripts

And a lot more!

In MH we have been blessed by these low code features, not only to fix the existing stuff, but also to enhance the business processes. Of course, there are times when more complicated coding is required and that will require classical way of deployment. But I found that the 80% of the times, things can be done in low code. ERPNext comes with these features by default.

In Odoo, these low code features are available with Studio app (Odoo EE only) which are prohibited by the hefty price tag.

3) Fully managed Frappe Cloud

Finally, MH can now leverage the modern software platform and move everything into the cloud. Frappe Cloud can do everything that Odoo.sh can do, but with a fraction of cost.

Here with similar server spec, but come with unlimited users will cost MH only $25 / month or $300 / year. (Odoo.sh is $7,272 / year).

In the past, there were too much trouble with the server that will rely on an IT guy to manage. With this offering, MH ERP now live worry free with unlimited support tickets from Frappe Helpdesk team too.

And now, update to latest version for MH ERP is just a click away. Problem solved!


At the time of writing, the new so called MH ERP 2.0 has been live for almost one year now. It was a tough decision at first to change an ERP system, especially when the previous solution is what we (Ecosoft) has way more experiences. I summarize ERPNext as the software that built for users, while Odoo is for developers. There are many things that users can do by themselves without the need of developer. Easy versoin upgrade is also crucial to long term maintenance of the software. Additionally, Frappe Cloud has also serve us very well. There were some problem along the way, but all of them has been response very quickly by Frappe Techonologies.

Things only get better and better with Frappe / ERPNext.

by Kitti U.

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