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How do I Choose the Best Open Source Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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When selecting the best open source software, it is important to have a clearly defined specification, sufficient background in technology to understand the impact of the decision, and the ability to support the software product once installed. Software products are designed to meet a specific need, and the ability to choose the appropriate software is based solely on the business requirements. Focusing on the core business requirements will increase the quality of the business decision made.

Open source software is any type of computer software that allows users to change, improve, and redistribute the software without paying a copyright holder. The software itself is often made available over the Internet, providing users the ability to freely download the program for use or to contribute software code to improve to tool or expand the functionality of the software. The best open source software has been widely adopted and is a strong competitor in the software product market.

Many people assume that since the software is open source, there is no cost associated with the selection and use of the program. That is not necessarily the case. As with any software implementation project, there are specific hardware requirements, as well as the cost of staff time to test, implement, and train staff how to use the software. Some open source software is so complex that specially trained consultants are required to install and configure the software to meet your business needs.

A well-defined business specification provides a list of the required features, core functionality required and the intended business users. Once this information is completed, a review of the different software options available can begin. When looking for the best open source software, it is important to make sure there is a very good match between the current functionality of the software and the business requirements.

While the best open source software can be customized to meet unique needs, specially trained consultants may be required. It is better to find software that meets the majority of your needs, as extensive customization typically indicates a poorly defined business process or the wrong product selection. Open source software is available for users to utilize as they deem appropriate. The underlying assumption is that the user has resources with sufficient technical expertise to fully support and manage the software product once installed. Firms without the technical resources and experience may find that the project requires more staff resources than is economically feasible.

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