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Open Source accountancy software

HI

I'm looking for a free (I mean $0) accountancy software for liberal professions (doctor, dietician...)

Idealy the soft should :
- manage data clients (personal info) and appointment
- all the money of the cabinet (consultation cost but also the local rent, invoices, ...)

I tried google with no result :(

Olivier B
Friday, June 25, 2004

http://sql-ledger.org/

finitesoup
Friday, June 25, 2004

Do you want $0 price, or do you want Open Source? The two are not the same...

Tom H
Friday, June 25, 2004

Olivier - great to meet you! I'm looking for free (I mean $0) medical care for some friends that are contract programmers. Can you hook them up?

Surely the docs don't mind giving their services away in their free time, right?

Philo

Philo
Friday, June 25, 2004

Philo,

They don't

http://www.icrc.org/eng

Tapiwa
Friday, June 25, 2004

And to the OP, this might be overkill, and the accounting module is still missing a lot of features, but check out Open For Business

http://www.ofbiz.org

Tapiwa
Friday, June 25, 2004


Philo,

I can perform any medical procedure you want.  I'm not licensed by the AMA, but I have a Dremel (rotary power tool), a hammer (smashing device), and a utility knife (sharp cutting tool).


I only accept payment in advance and he'll have to sign a "don't sue me" contract, but just drop me an email to set up an appointment.

KC
Friday, June 25, 2004

I said open source but if it's a freeware (or not expensive shareware) it good too.
I'm looking for such a program for my girlfriend, who will start as a dietetician in september. She has no money at all and the firsts months/years will probably be very difficult (expensive invoices, few clients)
So the main goal is to find some good programs to begin with.

I tried OpenOffice for and it's really a great job thy've done... MS office for $0 ! So I'm now looking for the same concept for accountancy and clients management...

I know that the concept of having free software to use for billing clients is not very popular... but you also probably know that starting it's own compagny isn't really easy !

Olivier B
Friday, June 25, 2004

I've done some work in the field of medical billing and I can tell you, it's a quagmire.

Between federal, state, local governments, private insurance companies, patients with no insurance, etc, everything is a paperwork nightmare. And if she accidentally submits a bill that isn't right she could be a huge legal mess; tell her to be very careful if she gets anywhere close to Medicare or Medicaid.  OTOH, there is good money to be made in the field.

Anony Coward
Friday, June 25, 2004

So, do you really want your accounting done by a free software program with zero liability (or motivation to fix some niggling little bug?).

Mr. Analogy
Friday, June 25, 2004

They provide free healthcare, but only to the very most needy folks on the planet. Plenty of feel-good, but questionable actual long term impact.  The poorest of the poor need clean water more then the latest drugs. If fact, a friend from France pointed out that most wars are actually over WATER (or farmable land (i.e., that has enough water, etc. for farming)).


Ya' know, I was thinking : Imagine if we provided free software, but only the the most technologically needy: those with Windows 3.1 computers and no pc skills.  This wouldn't help them, it would hurt them.

Then, I realized, we do the same thing with free medicine.

We gve out discounted or free medicine (for aids in Africa, etc.) to people who DO NOT HAVE CLEAN WATER.  This doesn't solve thier most immediate problem, and only excacerbates the other problems.

Mr. Analogy
Friday, June 25, 2004

Your free surgery will come with limited, obscure instructions on how to do the preparatory anaesthetic work yourself.

Herr Herr
Friday, June 25, 2004

Ummm, at the risk of droning on, I'll just point out that the USA is the only country in the West that doesn't have health care that is free at the point of use.

The points about access to clean water are well made though.

Simon Lucy
Friday, June 25, 2004

Olivier,

For whatever reason, a good general purpose and full featured open source accounting package has never been developed.

In general, the OSS field doesn't do well with applications that are tied to business functions. 

My impression is that the sort of people who are attracted to committing large blocks of their time to open source development don't have the career or business background to create something very "businessy". Committed career programmers usually have no clue about business activities (in fact many of them pride themselves on ignorance about business.)

As ugly as it sounds, tell your friend to bite the bullet and buy Quickbooks. I don't care for Intuit's "jam it down your throat" marketing messages embedded in their products, but Quickbooks is easy to set up, reliable, and most CPAs can deal with Quickbooks data files.

Bored Bystander
Friday, June 25, 2004


I'm developing a *very simple* accounting module for one of our departments here at work.

The reason general purpose Accounting systems are rare is because of the domain knowledge that has to go into it.  There are bits and pieces that everyone understands pretty easily and quickly.  There are lots of custom exceptions depending on which "Accounting Standards" you use.  It's a raging mess.


This may sound terrible, but start in Access.  You can have simple databases up and running in a matter of minutes and, unless you need them, forms are optional.  Then, when you find/build the system that you're looking for, the data can easily be pealed out using SQL.

This will allow you to figure out your needs before you spend too much time or effort.

KC
Friday, June 25, 2004

"I'll just point out that the USA is the only country in the West that doesn't have health care that is free at the point of use."

An important point, I didn't know that health care grows on trees in other countries.  Very cool.  We should set up some greenhouses and get our hands on some of those seeds...


Friday, June 25, 2004

Olivier - my apologies to you and your girlfriend. I was a bit sharp, prompted by my profiling on the term "doctors."

If you're in the US, she needs to make sure she complies with the requirements of HIPAA, which can cause significant legal hardships if not adhered to.

I would suggest looking for groups she can join - maybe a local medical association or a national dietician's group. They might have discount services available and advisors to help her get started without getting into trouble.

There are also medical billing services available that will take care of the work - I have no idea how much they cost.

She should also try to get a reference for a lawyer and have an initial interview. An initial consult shouldn't run more than $200, and a good lawyer will have checklists and how-to's that she can use to protect herself. Establishing a relationship will also make it less scary to go see the attorney when she might want advice.

And I'll be the first to admit - it sucks that she has to worry about this kind of stuff when she's excited about a new job.

Best of luck!

Philo

Philo
Friday, June 25, 2004

May I ask who would be liable if a free (as in $0) software accounting package had a bug that caused either extra or too few bills to be sent???  Think either significant revenue losses or fraudulent billing.  Sometimes it's good to have someone else on the line too.

Jeremy
Friday, June 25, 2004

Jeremy : open source does not mean "a single developper developping a bad software when he has time, 2 hours once a year...

I was so impressed by OpenOffice that my conclusion was : wow, what a great job for free. And many people work on this project, with no money consideration, and i believe with real quick response time when bugs are reported... maybe quicker than Microsoft.

That's why I'm looking for open source too for tha accountig program... open source projects are generaly more "up to date" than freewares/sharewares because many people works on it instead of a single developper at home.

For others : she will be dietetician in France. I'm sure there's lots of little things making the application becomming complicate because of each job specialites that's why open source could be one more time a good thing. Maybe would I be able to add some custom functionalities...

The other way is for me to start from scratch and developping her own application. the customer part should be quite easy.. but the accounting is a bit harder I imagine :-)

I tried the programs you told me, but they seems a bit too big (I don't know how to explain) I mean to complicated for just liberal professions.

Olivier B
Friday, June 25, 2004

I am guessing business applications will never be open-sourced.

I would say OSS projects get started becuase it is a "cool thing", technical challenge or some kind of system utility. Business apps are none of these. So businesses are forced to buy shrink-wrapped software or develop their own. 

After spending money or time developing software would a business give away their custom software to their competitors?? Not gonna happen.

DJ
Friday, June 25, 2004

I'm asking the question that if there's a problem,  who will get sued?  And if the billing was indeed in error, whose responsibility is it to pay for the damages?  The legal risk could far outweigh any cost savings, at least in the US.  I'm not familiar with the legal climate in Europe but people in the US seem to be sue-happy, especially with medical items.

Or, to Philo's point, if the program does something that violates other regulations, like HIPAA, which governs patient privacy, who is the government going to sue?  That would probably be the doctor.

Clearly these are not functional issues, they're business issues, and quite relevant to the discussion.  I don't know _anyone_ would would give away their software and take on your legal risk.

Jeremy
Friday, June 25, 2004

I don't know anyone who would sell you software and take on your legal risk.

Oren Miller
Friday, June 25, 2004



Uh... right now nearly every EULA (End Users' Licensing Agreement) that I have every seen says that the user is responsible for its usage.

Therefore, when a bug charges people multiple times (or crashes the ATM), no one is allowed to blame the Vendor/Developer at all.

This isn't just commercial software, the GPL has a "use at your own risk" clause too.

KC
Friday, June 25, 2004

Just because it's in the EULA doesn't mean that someone can't sue in civil court.  Have those limited liability provisions ever been upheld in a case?

Even if those clauses hold up for now, I suspect that we'll see a push for product liability for software vendors like other industries in the not too distant future.

Jeremy
Friday, June 25, 2004

OSS is the artworld of the software community:

People doing cool stuff to please thier own community-centric interests.  More power to them.

But just as I get frustrated by an artist who is angry that no one will pay them to do what THEY WANT to do, I have little sympathy for a programmer sho gets frustrated that no one will hire them after they worked so hard to create a floppy-disk sized Linux router.  Read Atlas Shrugged.

Mr. Analogy
Friday, June 25, 2004

Some accounting solutions at the low end of the market (if she can't afford forking out $100 for something as important as an accounting software, she might want to reconsider her going into business :-))

http://www.milec.com/
http://www.ctc-soft.com/logiciel.htm
http://www.ciel.com/produit/visu_produit.asp?pd=WK
http://www.ciel.com/produit/visu_produit.asp?pd=WCLIB

Fred
Friday, June 25, 2004

"I was so impressed by OpenOffice that my conclusion was : wow, what a great job for free. And many people work on this project, with no money consideration, and i believe with real quick response time when bugs are reported... maybe quicker than Microsoft."

It might be worth remembering that OpenOffice started life as the closed source, commercial StarOffice (the earliest reference I could Google was 1995 for the OS/2 version, though in 1993 they may have been selling the cross platform toolkit used to create it). Sun bought it in 1999, and Open Sourced it a year later. I'm sure they still contribute heavily to its development.

What I'm getting at is that OO.o is not necessarily a good example of what can be created by a bunch of guys in their spare time. Maintained and improved maybe.

Chris Altmann
Saturday, June 26, 2004

"An important point, I didn't know that health care grows on trees in other countries.  Very cool.  We should set up some greenhouses and get our hands on some of those seeds..."

How much did you pay to drive to work this morning?  Or are those freeways just the product of some giant slug that roams about America leaving a concrete trail?  If so, could you share some with the rest of the world.

Or are you constantly lobbying your representitives demanding that toll's be charged on all roads?

Ged Byrne
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Oliver,

A good way to find open source software is to search Sourceforge.
http://sourceforge.net/

Here's two possible projects:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/open-accounting/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/gnucash/

However, don't expect every Open Source project to be like Open Office.  Turnkey solutions are rare.

However, if you are in a situation where you have time but very little money then open source can be a great solution.

Ged Byrne
Saturday, June 26, 2004

------' We gve out discounted or free medicine (for aids in Africa, etc.) to people who DO NOT HAVE CLEAN WATER.  This doesn't solve thier most immediate problem, and only excacerbates the other problems. "--------

Yea, I mean this staying alive is a minor problem.

Strangely enough the World Bank proposals on water supply insist on a charging model. The disastrous effect this has on shanty towns when put into practise doesn't seem to phase them too much.

About the only good thing the change of government in Sri Lanka has had is the shelving of the privatisation of water proposals.

To get back on topic, I don't think there is any very good accounting software, because it is so much more a question of domain knowledge, which changes every year and for every country, than it is dependent on programming per se.

This is one case where she would probably do best to shell out a little for the appropriate one for her country and tax year.

Altenratively a bit of extra work with a spreadsheet and mail merge.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Another issue is that accounting standards differ around the world.  Heck, here in the US there are at least two major standards that I know of (US Govt. and FASB), and which you use depends on who your major customers are.  Once you add foreign countries into the mix, it becomes a huge mess to program for. 

Hmmm. Another reason is possibly the lack of passion towards accounting software.  There just aren't that many people that get excited over the area.  I mean, lets face it -- it's not like it's a 3D game or anything really cool.

Chip H.
Sunday, June 27, 2004

You Ayn Rand nerds are a wonder.  Keep on trying to marginalize open source.  And stick to Microsoft while an ever-greater proportion of the Internet runs on poorly-maintained, buggy, unreliable codebases with authors you can't sue... projects like Apache, MySQL, PHP, and GNU/Linux.

I was feeling masochistic 5 years ago and took a Javascript class.  There was a brief discussion of server-side scripting in the class, and the teacher opined that PHP was going to forever remain the forte of guys that "run their sites on servers in their garages".  He was an ASP developer.  *snicker*

Amused
Monday, July 26, 2004

Jeremy,

You seem to be under the impression that if someone using Quickbooks has an accounting error due to a bug in the software, Intuit will somehow share the liability. That is completely False.

The claim that Open Source software is risky because nobody is liable for flaws in the program is a red herring, because the same is true for most proprietary software. I invite you to examine the so-called "End User License Agreement" for Quickbooks or MS Windows. They explicitly disclaim all liability due to errors in the program. I don't know to what extent this has been tested in court.

It may be possible to find a proprietary company that covers liabilities due to bugs, but I've never heard of it, and I bet it would be as expensive as some serious insurance policy.

In short, the software providor is never liable for bugs in the software, whether the software is Free or proprietary.  Instead we can ask what recourse one has when there is a bug in the software, and here the (theoretical and practical) advantages of Open Source become more apparent. Basically, the Open Source software tends to get fixed much faster, and anyone who wants the bug fixed can cause it to become fixed.  With a bug in a proprietary program, the user is entirely at the mercy of the vendor to fix it, and as Microsoft has shown time and again, there are many factors (marketing, internal politics, whatever) besides technical and user-friendliness that determine if and when a bug gets fixed in proprietary software.

Steve
Thursday, August 12, 2004

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