Since free software was originally created by hackers for hackers, it's no wonder that the first programs they created were tools – things like Emacs - and something to run them on – GNU/Linux. The second generation applications were key infrastructural elements – Web servers, databases etc., while more recently, we've seen the rise of applications like enterprise content management and CRM, as open source moves closer to the end users.
But one class of software that seemed totally absent was that for managing human resources – HRM apps. I thought this was something of a lack, but that would be filled in due course. It turns out that it was filled quite some time ago – 2006, to be precise – and that I somehow overlooked the open source OrangeHRM product completely since then. To remedy this, I met up with Sujee Saparamadu, the CEO and cofounder of the company, to catch up on the subject.
The code behind OrangeHRM was written from scratch, rather than being based on any pre-existing project. That's not surprising, since human resource management is not really the sort of thing hackers sit down and write for sheer pleasure. Indeed, it's arguably about as far as you could imagine from the hacker heartland.
Despite that, the GPL-licensed OrangeHRM is hosted on Sourceforge.net, and has been one of the most popular programs there. It has clocked up some 500,000 downloads in total, and boasts a million users in 100 countries around the world according to Saparamadu.
OrangeHRM is aimed squarely at SMEs, and aims to serve a market currently not well covered by the existing HR packages, which are really designed with major enterprises in mind. OrangeHRM has a one-click installation, Saparamadu says, runs on the LAMP stack, and uses a modular structure to allow customers to add the features they need.
Although I personally don't have much call for human resource management (the only person that needs managing in my business is me, and I'm not sure journalists qualify as humans), but it's certainly good news to know that open source has got this area covered too. It means that even more of the enterprise stack can be handled by free software.
I'm slightly embarrassed that I've only come across the product now, five years into its development, although this does suggest that OrangeHRM might want to make a little more noise about its products, since I can't believe I'm the only one who was unaware of its fruity charms.