‘Community source’ project helps colleges tackle enterprise systems

“The open-source movement has been gaining momentum in many forms, but this was the first time that we saw interesting developments in the area of ERP systems,” said Randy Ozden, president and chief financial officer of Vivantech, a developer of enterprise-grade, open-source administrative software, describing Kuali’s origins.

Vivantech has been an active member of the Kuali community since 2007 and has helped to develop several Kuali products, including KFS, the Kuali People Management for the Enterprise (KPME), and the Vivantech Kuali DVQE (Disbursement Voucher Quick Expense) Mobile App.

“A lot of people call Kuali ‘open source,’ but I think a more appropriate definition is ‘community source,’” Ozden remarked. “Unlike open-source projects out there where anyone can contribute to the software and modify it, in this case, the community has … functional counsels that determine what goes into the new products or software modules.”

The Kuali Foundation’s participating universities act as a collaborative cohort and share resources, ideas, and even developers to create products they all can benefit from.

“You saw the rise of a lot of universities saying, ‘I don’t want to spend a lot of money, what if universities band together and write it together,’” said Brian Voss, vice president and chief information officer for the University of Maryland (UMD). “It is a community of like-minded and like-motivated people [who] are coming together to create something that all can use.”

The Kuali Foundation is currently home to eight projects, the most mature of which is KFS, which can be hosted on campus or through a software-as-a-service model with the help of commercial support providers.

UMD joined the consortium when officials there recognized that much of their IT staff was nearing retirement age, and they felt it would be counterproductive to train their new hires on the Cobalt Blue ERP, their legacy system that was being phased out by vendors.

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