Top 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 customizing extends to renaming fields and plastering the screens with your logo and color 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 – and for that, you need an open source HRMS.
Open source HRMS selection
Open source HRMS comes in all shapes and sizes. The ‘open source’ tag simply means that your license/subscription includes access to the software’s source code, with the right to change that code to fit your specific business needs.
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 with your business or personal principles.
When selecting your open source HRMS, the usual best practices apply. However, the following pointers are open source-specific:
- 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 some examples of niche or specialized open source HR software) but it’s still worth paying attention to what is not included.
- Ongoing maintenance and upgrades for 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 development you carry out are usually covered by that same license – meaning that 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.
Top open source HRMS systems
iceHRM comes in three flavors, all of which give you access to the source code. The free option lacks a few features 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 very solid and well-tested basic HRMS package that 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 HRMS out there. Although there are professional and enterprise (and SaaS) versions, it’s the basic free ‘Open Source HRMS’ option that 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 that 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 have built up their product to be feature-rich by any standards and 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 an HRMS that you can customize and integrate with your 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.
6. Open Baraza
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 suggests 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 and features to manage your casual workforce and even arbitration.
There are very few online reviews but what there are, 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. With 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 chooses to specialize in leave management. Focusing on the basics, Jorani is a free system to manage leave and overtime requests with one-click ease, including the option of a variety of standard reports. Potentially, it works for any size of organization, and the website states that with Jorani even complex enterprises, spanning different countries, and with a web of branches, subsidiaries and department 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 flavors only).
Open source HRMS is not right for everyone, and the more customization you want, the more work it will be. However, if it’s right 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.
Featured white papers
Best-of-breed vs integrated HRMS: which should you choose?
Should your company select an integrated HRMS or best-of-breed software? It’s not a simple question
HRMS vs HRIS vs HCM: what’s the difference?
The differences between HRMS, HRIS, and HCM explained
Top HRMS requirements gathering strategies
The process of gathering system requirements for a new HRMS has to include current process review...