3 Real OSS Human Resources Management Systems

In a LinkedIn post someone asked for a recommendation for a Human Resource Management System, it will be used by 300 persons and needed support for life, career and succession plan, performance and work environment evaluations, administration and control in training and educational programs. For payroll they just need an interface, as Mexico’s parametrization is a nightmare and they are outsourcing it. They are consultants so they also know they need system generated data for management reports and indicators to implement successful processes.

But they mainly got meeting proposals from enterprise software and proprietary developed suites providers. So after reading several articles and comparisons from sites like predictiveanalyticstoday, softwareadvice, softwaresuggest, I decided to filter here three Open Source Software (OOS) solutions. They are:

1. Sentrifugo

Developed in California by Sapplica Inc. for human resources management. It offers a system with:

  • Recruitment processes. Background check, interview schedule, document area for certifications and uploading those files.
  • Self-service portal for employees to update personal data, experience, education, holiday calendar, assignment to projects and can be used for onboarding.
  • Employees can apply for vacations or sick leave and responses from managers and authorizer are logged.
  • Performance evaluation in different modalities. Including feedforward.
  • Board and birthday notifications with organization’s relevant documents.
  • Employee service request of software installation or assets (resources, such as computers, phones with invoice number, provider details, warranty status, images) and their assignment to employees.
  • Expenses per trip, receipts and deposits.
  • Attendance record. With a simple and effective way to enter time, track activities and break time.
  • Record of disciplinary actions.
  • Hierarchy display, Unit and Department only.
  • Exit and separation management. Interview, department manager, checklist.
  • Listings are used, not reports. User activity, attrition rates, employees by department, analytical dashboards. Employee request, vacancies and hiring.
  • The configuration of new simple workflows can be done considering executing and authorizing persons; Imports employee data with Excel. It generates important activity logs for auditing and productivity analysis.

Menus are: Dashboard. Self-Service (Personal Details, Leaves -vacations are read only for employees-). Service request (Service request for other departments), HR (Roles & Privileges, Leaves, Exit procedure, Contacts), Appraisals (Manager, Self-Assessment, Team, History, Feed Forward). Recruitment (Requisitions, Candidates, Interviews, Selected/rejected), Background check, Organization (Units, Departments, Structure, Hierarchy, Announcements, Policy documents), Expenses (Category, Receipts, Travel, Advances, My Expenses). Disciplinary (Incidents, Team Incidents), Time (by Project).

For user permissions in the system, there are roles that control access to each option of the menus: view, add, edit, delete.

It is a web application developed with jQuery, PHP Zend with MySQL as a database. Its repository is in Github and Sourceforge. There is a Demo site, blog and a website entry that summarizes its functionality.

It’s the most complete application of the three reviewed here but still, it doesn’t support life, career or educational needs as originally requested. Remember that it has no payroll and the user interface is in only in English. It was last updated in April 2017.

Overview video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoLp3BZiu2c [1:10 min].

Screens (click for larger view) or access the Demo site.

2. Odoo

The Odoo community is the most active of the three presented here, they operate forums, tutorials on YouTube, chats, documentation on how to build modules (extensions). The community version is controlled by a Belgian association that guarantees its free operation. The first source code publication was made in 2005. Current version of this ERP, branch 12 offers in human resource management:

  • Recruitment.
  • Self-service portal for employees with contact details, contracts, information for onboarding.
  • Vacation and absence management. Assist Control.
  • Expense management. And its report, approval or rejection.
  • Documents by folders, categories and labels.
  • For hierarchy, it shows in profile of the official, his manager and subordinates.
  • Surveys. Email integration. Information board. Listings (no reports).

Companies and programmers had provided modules free of cost but not all of them work with the latest version. As an example personnel performance evaluation procedures can be added for formal interview, skills qualification, self-evaluation, exit interview, scheduling of evaluations, formats with questions for appraisals by position type. Employee insurance tracking. Educational or eLearning modules.

There are also modules with advanced functionality that requires monthly payment like Departmental HR Boards. Studio that allows to modify screen design and reports by the user. Reports eg. vacancies per business unit. Dental health monitoring. Help Desk for technical support. Review of KPI’s and KRA’s; Workflow management. Activities can be designed to perform automatic actions. There is also a module for Training Management. And there are companies that offer support contracts in lots of countries.

As an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) it can extend with modules for Email (mass mail for marketing), Website, Online sales (eCommerce), point of sale, customer service (CRM), Warehouse Management, Purchasing, Logistics (Delivery), Accounting and Billing, Manufacturing and Project Management.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUv9kYhtIY4 [3:21 min].

Some screens are shown (click on them to see detail) or visit the Demo site:

Standard menus are: Employee (Details, Contracts, Challenges, Department. Config). Recruitment (Job Positions, Applications, Resumes and Letters, Reports, Config). Leaves (View by week, month, year; My Leaves -requests-, Managers, Reporting). Surveys. Expenses Help Desk, Fleet management. Documents.

It’s a Web application with JavaScript in the client and Python in the server, with PostgreSQL as database. The project started as TinyERP in 2005, on 2010 it changed to OpenERP, and it’s last update was in October 2018. The repository is at Github, has Documentation, Modules Catalog, Guides 1 2 3 and Demo site. Odoo received BOSSIE awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

3. OrangeHRM

The Secaucus company in New Jersey published the first OrangeHRM version in 2006. And it currently represents one of the main personnel management platforms, serving more than 3 million users in the cloud. It offers:

  • Recruitment processes.
  • Self-service portal for employees (onboarding).
  • Training.
  • Performance. Evaluation by KPI and monitoring.
  • Holidays and permits; Time and attendance.
  • Information and salary history.
  • Reimbursement-Expenses Report.
  • Email Integration, Mobile Payroll Application. Information board and customizable reports (MIS).

The advanced options in the paid version are: Reports. Benefits (payroll and insurance plan). Training. Travel expenses tracking. Projects. Document and notification manager. Disciplinary follow-up. Import data. Configurable fields. Logs. Failure reports and advanced workflow (advanced business with a rule-based engine) but only on a Cloud version at http://orangehrm.orangehrmlive.com.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oPoVLcnO8g [1:46 min]

These are screenshots of the application:

Menus are: Admin (Users; Job Titles, Pay Grades, Employment status, Shifts; Organization structure, Qualifications, email). Employee info. Leaves (Entitlements, Reports, Config, Assignment). Time sheets, Recruitment (Vacancies, candidates). Performance (Config, KPI, Trackers, Reviews). Dashboard, Directory.

OrangeHRM won the BOSSIE award in 2008, 2012, & 2013. There is Demo site, Blog. The programming is in PHP 7.3 and uses MariaDB 10 or MySQL 5 as a database. The code in SourceForce corresponds to version 4.3.2 (July 2019), the commercial version is 6.0.


Sentrifugo its the web application with most functionality available out of the box, its functionality can be increased by modules created by the community or your own developers. It almost fulfill the original requirements of the LinkedIn post but those ones are very advanced and require the coordination of several modules and that has not been coded yet. It main disadvantage is that it has not been updated on several years and for that its just my second recommendation.

OrangeHRM has a simple and elegant design, it’s open source version lacks benefit (insurance), training and expenses control that do exist in its cloud version. It lacks a visible community but that can be said for most OSS companies. Those are considerable warnings. Maybe the proprietary/cloud version its worth a pilot project but it would be my third recommendation.

That makes Odoo my first option. You only need a careful selection of modules needed to complete your process and requirements. Even with the investment to acquire non free modules its an excellent option to host on site, in a private cloud, or use their inexpensive cloud services.


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