Best open source HRMS systems
When it comes to your HRMS, are you looking for an off-the-shelf, plug-and-play standard package? Or are you searching for something a little more customizable? If your customization extends to renaming fields and plastering screens with your logo and branding, no problem, most vendors will be happy to talk. But if you’re interested in deeper changes, you may need the freedom to tweak and rewrite the code – for that, you’ll need an open source HRMS.
What is an open source HRMS?
Open source HRMS comes in all shapes and sizes. ‘Open source’ simply means your license/subscription includes access to the software’s source code, with the right to change that code to fit your specific business needs.
Open source HRMS selection
An open source HRMS may be right for you if:
- Standard systems do not meet your specific process and/or technology needs and you require more than ‘cosmetic’ customization to do so.
- You have an in-house team (or other capacity on-staff) with software development skills and experience.
- You have a limited budget (many open source HRMS is available in a free and/or introductory version; but not all…)
- The freedom to change and control your software fits your business or personal principles.
Check out our HRMS product comparison engine to compare the best open source HRMS
When selecting your open source HRMS, usual best practices apply. However, these tips are specific to open source HR software:
- Extra features or user support packages often cost extra.
- Open source HRMS often has fewer features and functionality than proprietary systems. This is changing (see below for examples of specialized open source HR software) but it’s still always worth noting what is not included.
- Ongoing maintenance and upgrades for an open source HRMS often come from a community of developers rather than a vendor’s in-house team. The strength and dedication of that community can determine the value of your HRMS as a business tool.
- Under an open source license, any changes or developments you carry out are usually covered by that same license – meaning they are available to other system developers. This may not be a problem, but it’s worth being aware that the trade-off for open source flexibility is that you can never really ‘own’ the system.
8 best open source HRMS software
Here, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top open source HR management systems available, in no particular order. Use the links below to jump to each system:
iceHRM comes in three flavors, all of which give you access to the source code. The free option lacks a few features which are built into the ‘pay-for’ Pro and Enterprise versions, such as leave management, LMS, recruitment, document, and travel management.
That said, the free version is a solid and well-tested basic HRMS package you can tinker with, including basic employee records, company information (structure and organization), timesheets, and attendance management (including attendance comparison charts).
If you’re willing to pay (for the license, the hosting, or both) then you have a very sophisticated and wholly customizable system. Reviews are few but uniformly positive.
OrangeHRM might be the longest-running open source HR management system out there. Although there are professional and enterprise (and SaaS) versions, the basic free ‘Open Source HRMS’ option is the most popular.
With records/information management, time and attendance, leave management, recruitment, performance, and employee self-service it’s not hard to see why. Orange’s ‘entry-level’ option remains one of the more feature-packed on the market.
Review-wise, functionality receives consistent praise, however support and responsiveness less so (but bear in mind these reviews are from people who have not opted for the paid support and maintenance option).
Designed for organizations of up to 1,000 people, Sentrifugo is a relative newcomer to the open source HRMS market, albeit an increasingly popular one.
With the tagline, “Adopt. Adapt. Advance. For Free!” this vendor is clearly pushing customizability as a core feature. Sentrifugo has built up its product to be feature-rich by any standards, not just those of the ‘freebie open source’ brigade.
As well as the usual HR and workforce management modules, Sentrifugo also offers management of performance appraisals, background checks, interview scheduling, talent acquisition, and even a comprehensive set of analytics. Reviews are limited but glowing, almost all being four- or five-star assessments.
The Sentrifugo website offers a support center, with a helpdesk and user forum to address common problems and concerns.
Odoo is an extensive suite of open source solutions, with functionality for ERP, CRM, project management, and more available alongside its HRMS app. So not technically an HRMS - but we thought it deserved an honorable mention. In fact, if you’re looking for a customizable HRMS that can integrate with other business systems, Odoo might just save you the trouble.
A range of core HRMS features are available; these include recruitment, leave management, expense tracking, and an appraisal tool. Reviews rarely dip below the four and five-star mark and highlight Odoo's ease of use as one of its particular advantages.
Due to Odoo’s extensive functionality, it can be particularly suitable for companies looking for a flexible solution for use across numerous departments.
Pitched as suitable for both small businesses and large enterprises, OpenHRMS offers a comprehensive bundle of HR-related functionality, including records management, time and attendance, onboarding, benefits management, payroll (not available with the base package), performance management, and even automated recruitment.
One caution: online customer reviews are hard to find so your selection process should include a focus on user recommendations, references, and other feedback.
The Open Baraza open source HRMS is offered alongside a suite of other business solutions (all based on the same open source framework) including finance and investment management packages, and more specialized sector-specific software for real estate and academia. If nothing else, this shows its integration capabilities.
The HR option includes an employee database, time and attendance functionality, learning management, recruitment, performance management, payroll, and employee self-service. So far, so standard. However, Open Baraza also offers project management, features to manage your casual workforce, and even arbitration.
There are few online reviews but those that are there are enthusiastic.
Now we’re getting specific… iHRIS is open source HR software for health organizations. Used for health workforce management, regulation, and training, iHRIS is designed for health ministries, councils, and health service delivery organizations. Function-wise, it offers five modules: workforce tracking and management, learning management, workforce planning, recruitment, and management of sector-specific qualifications.
The package comes with access to various implementation and development resources, including an implementation toolkit of template worksheets, forms, and case studies.
Available in various languages (thanks to the established developer community), iHRIS has international operation at its heart and is compliant with international data exchange standards.
Jorani is open source HR software specializing in leave management. Focusing on the basics, Jorani is a free HR system that manages leave and overtime requests with one-click ease, including the option of a variety of standard reports. Potentially, it works for any organization size, and the website states that with Jorani even complex enterprises, spanning different countries, with a web of branches, subsidiaries and departments can manage employee time efficiently.
Jorani is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Ukrainian, Persian, Khmer, Vietnamese, Czech, and Turkish (though the documentation comes in English and French only).
Open source HRMS isn’t for everyone, and the more customization you want, the more work it takes. However, if it’s suitable for your business needs then there are increasing numbers of systems on the market, offering increasing degrees of functionality and/or specialization. The eight systems above are some of the more widely available and representative systems.
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