Interview: OrangeHRM--Open Human Resources Management
Does your business need to improve its people skills? OrangeHRM is one of the most robust human resources management applications around, and it's free and open source. Released under the GNU General Public License, it is based on PHP, MySQL and Apache HTTP Server. Himath Dissanayake, CTO of OrangeHRM, checked in with us on how the application can make a difference for businesses.
OStatic: What is your specific involvement with OrangeHRM?
Himath Dissanayake: I am the Chief Technical Officer. I oversee the activities of the engineering team, and the product roadmap.
OStatic: What motivates you to participate in the open source arena, and then freely give your work away?
Himath Dissanayake: Open source products can reach millions of users who cannot afford to use proprietary software in all the countries of the world. OrangeHRM has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by users from all continents. It is very satisfying to see the impact we make on people's lives all over the world.
With open source, the users also get to contribute back to the project. For example, users get involved in defining OrangeHRM requirements, testing, and bug fixing. When an entire community is involved in helping building a product based on their core needs, more value can be created than when only one company decides what to do based on their business plans.
OStatic: What technologies does OrangeHRM use?
Himath Dissanayake: OrangeHRM is built on top of the AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack. This allows us to provide a lightweight and robust system based on open source technologies, which can also scale.
OStatic: What products are your closest alternatives? What advantages/disadvantages does OrangeHRM have over these?
Himath Dissanayake: Currently there is no active open source project that provides features similar to OrangeHRM. OpenHRIS seems to have made an attempt to start such a project, but it does not seem to have much activity.
On the proprietary side, among many vendors, Oracle and SAP are the most well known. OrangeHRM has been in existence for only about 3 years. Therefore, currently it may not have all the features (e.g. performance appraisals) that some of the proprietary vendors offer.
However, we know of instances where customers have replaced some of their systems running proprietary software from vendors with big names, with OrangeHRM. Considering the speed at which OrangeHRM is maturing with the participation of the community, it won't be long before it becomes a better alternative to most proprietary products, not only based on cost, but also based on features and quality.
OStatic: Who is your typical user? How do you support your users?
Himath Dissanayake: All employees of an organization can use OrangeHRM. Even potential employees can use OrangeHRM to submit job applications using its application submission page, which can be easily integrated with an organization's website. HR Managers can have administration privileges and configure the rights of the rest of the users. Using employee self-service, employees can update their personal information, apply for leave, submit timesheets, and apply for benefits. Supervisors/Managers can approve leave, expenses, timesheets, and also view project time reports.
OStatic: Are there any anecdotal comments you can make about any interesting or unusual users/uses of your project?
Himath Dissanayake: OrangeHRM has been translated to 9 languages by its users with little or no involvement from the core OrangeHRM team.
Also other parties have created virtual appliances of OrangeHRM and made them available to the public.
OStatic: How have you monetized your project thus far?
Himath Dissanayake: It's privately funded. Our main revenue sources are through services related to the open source product. More information about the services is available from our site.
OStatic: What does the Open Source movement need?
Himath Dissanayake: More exposure. It's still true that not many people know about open source. Some people may be reluctant to use open source because of the misconceptions they have. There must be a focused effort to take the message of open source across to individuals and, more importantly, to enterprises.