Open Source software gives business owners a way to run their business without needing to pay for expensive software. Of course no software is actually free, you have to spend a considerable amount of time learning to use every system. If you are starting a business with very technically employees, it might be less expensive to purchase the software they are currently familiar with to lower the learning curve.
Still many businesses can benefit from free software. This is especially true of businesses that need general office computers to access email, browse the web, and create documents like spreadsheets, presentations, and word processor documents.
If you are considering using Open Source software, here are several questions to keep in mind:
- How will you get support? If you have a technically savvy employee, they may be able to provide support for you. There are also many companies that offer support for Open Source software.
- Who will set it up? Once a computer system is up and running it will probably require very little maintenance. However the setup is important to make sure you have the networking configured, a way to back things up, etc.
- What standards do you need to be compatible with? If your job involves exchanging a lot of information with people who are using Microsoft Office, will your system be able to read their files. If you will receive many appointment requests will your mail program be able to read them.
- How will you handle training? You need to have a plan for how to train people. Maybe it will just be informally teaching your employees in the office or giving them a book. Perhaps it makes sense to send them to some sort of training class. What every you choose make sure you have a plan in place ahead of time.
- What is your backup plan? Make sure you have a plan in place to recover your data if one of your computers is stolen or suffers from a hard drive crash.