While open-source software is free to download and use, there are costs and limitations that should be taken into consideration before you begin the adoption process.
An OpenBoxes installation requires a system administrator to install, monitor, maintain, and upgrade the software and server components throughout the software lifecycle. These tasks require competent IT personnel.
While OpenBoxes has been streamlined considerably since its creation, there may be significant time costs associated with using this inventory management system.
Examples of potentially time-intensive tasks include, but are not limited to:
- Master Data Management e.g. creating products to track within the system
- Periodic Reviews e.g. stock counts, min/max/reorder review, fast moving vs. obsolete inventory
- Data Entry e.g. recording and adjusting inventory
- Forecasting e.g. period review of demand/consumption data, disease incidence, population growth, service expansion within the hospital
While OpenBoxes is a relatively simple inventory management tool, some training is required to allow users to successfully utilize all of the functionality offered by the system.
While OpenBoxes could be used by small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME) in most industries, there are some limitations that might make it difficult to use:
1) OpenBoxes does not have a Sales Order feature yet. There's not an overwhleming need for such a feature within the hospital. For now, you can create a new location to represent a customer, generate a PO for that location (customer) against your facility depot, and fulfill that PO in order to approximate a Sales Order. This feature will eventually be implemented as pharmacists would like to generate a sales order when filling a prescription for a patient.
2) The Requisition feature (i.e. Pull Replenishment) which is used to move stock from a facility depot to a point-of-service location (e.g. ward, pharmacy) is primarily used within the depot. In other words, Requisitions are created by a warehouse manager within the hospital depot instead of by the requesting party (i.e. a nurse or pharmacist).
This was a decision made in order to save time and avoid the need for adding time-intensive processes for nurses and pharmacists. In the use case at Mirebalis Hospital, nurses and pharmacists will send a paper requisitions to the hospital depot, warehouse staff will enter the requisition into the system and proceed to fulfill that requisition. OpenBoxes will eventually have a point-of-service (POS) client for nurses and pharmacists to request stock from the depot, but that feature is not currently in development.
Static Role-based Authorization
The OpenBoxes authorization mechanism currently only provides three roles (Admin, Manager, and Browser). This limits the ability for an administrator to create roles based on fine-grained permissions. For example, all Manager users have the ability to perform CRUD actions (create, retrieve, update, delete) on most objects within the system. However, I cannot create a new role (e.g. Shift Manager) that allows a user to create a Product, but not a Purchase Order. A more fine-grained approach will be implemented in a future version of OpenBoxes.