iDempiere Hero of the Month – July 2022

iDempiere enthusiasts share many examples of how iDempiere changed people’s lives for the better. Here we present to you our hero of the month for his contributions during the month of July.

Michael has been a good citizen for quite some time. He contributes to the multi-functional currency more than any other known community member, he contributes back his findings any chance he has and he is always eager to test results when presented.

Michael Powacht

Zuellig Industrial
Chief Technology Officer
Bangkok Thailand

As an accomplished senior manager and ERP expert who has led information System operations and projects for several Global Fortune 500 companies and with over 20 years of experience in ERP technology, Michael joined Zuellig Industrial’s head office in Thailand in October 2015. With a wealth of experience in implementing commercial and open-source ERP software for large and SME-size organizations, Michael understands the unique challenges, weaknesses, and strengths of both approaches. Under Michael’s leadership, Zuellig Industrial has replaced Thailand’s obsolete and unsupported ERP business software with a modern, flexible, and scalable Open-source ERP system solution.

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up.

I grew up and went to school in Austria’s second largest city, named Graz. It was also there where I earned a degree in Financial Accounting and Controlling, which explains my passion for value flows and corporate finance.  

How did you get into programming?

It was during my 6 year tenure from 1990 at the IBM headquarter in Vienna, where I found my passion for technical Know-How. While I still worked in an accounting function, I became increasingly interested in IBM’s DB2 database technology, its OS/2 operating system and SQL programming. At a later stage of my career at IBM, I managed in-house developed ERP systems. The combination of technical skills, business process know-how and Corporate Accounting was a great advantage. After about 6 years, I left IBM to look for new challenges and started with ORACLE Corporation as application consultant. From there I had a desire to become a freelance consultant specializing in ORACLE databases, ORACLE Forms and ORACLE applications. In 1997, I joined ABB, a large multinational corporation, where I worked in different roles: 17 years of SAP system integration, ERP project management and IT country management in Thailand.

How long have you been part of iDempiere?

Since 2015, when I started work at Zuellig Industrial. At the time I joined the company as Chief Technology officer, the company’s CEO was determined to replace an aging commercial ERP system with free and open-source software.

How and why did you get involved with iDempiere?

I took a deep dive and performed a gap analysis of various free, open-source ERP options – Apache OFBiz was one of them – and iDempiere came out as the best out-of-box ERP solution. But what really convinced me was the fact that iDempiere is much more than just an ERP system, it’s a complete integration platform. 

What is your experience in other OS projects?

I am an outspoken proponent for open source software. I use Linux and open source applications whenever I have a choice. I have successfully worked with the PostgreSQL database and programming languages such as Java, Rust and Python.

Is there something that makes you passionate about open source in general and iDempiere in particular?

I keep reading and learning new things about other open source projects whenever time permits, trying to avoid any kind of commercial vendor lock-in. Open-source not only is free but it also means freedom, the freedom to change and to share with others. The thing I appreciate about iDempiere is that its entire technology stack and tools are based on free, open-source components, including Java, Jetty, Github, and Jenkins, to name a few. And as stated before, the largest benefit in my mind is the fact that iDempiere is a flexible and scalable integration platform. I also appreciate the pace by which program errors are resolved and new features introduced in every release.

I am also very passionate about Open-Source Bitcoin, a digital commodity and store of value, which brings financial freedom and financial inclusion to the billions of unbanked. On my personal website, I offer Bitcoin training courses, helping people to understand this disrupting new technology and to avoid common pitfalls.

What does your typical day look like?

Bangkok has earned a reputation for its notorious traffic problem. To avoid traffic congestion in the mornings, I strictly wake up early at 5:20 AM and I usually arrive at the office in the center of Bangkok at around 6:30 AM. That’s a very different lifestyle than in Europe, but I have adapted to the circumstances. I take my morning coffee at the same coffee shop I’ve been frequenting for the past 7 years. I open my laptop and start reading my emails, and performing routine tasks, such as iDempiere integrity checks using home-grown SQL queries. At 8:00 AM, I walk to my office and continue pursuing my working day. In my role as CTO, I have plenty of video calls and meetings to attend and I perform managerial tasks as well. 

If you have your customers for whom you implement or customize iDempiere, what are they like and what do they typically want?

Up until this stage, Zuellig Industrial and its customers have been focused on procure-to-pay and order-to-cash end-to-end processes, with a stable value-flow backbone, which produces reliable financial results. Of particular interest is our solution’s ability to produce closed financial statements (Balance Sheet and P/L) not only by organization but also by Profit Center, used to represent company divisions, business areas or business units. We have also successfully implemented automatic and secure electronic payment transfer solutions in iDempiere, as was announced here.

What are some of the things you would like to improve in iDempiere?

I think documentation is probably an area, which could be improved.

How does it feel to win the July 2022 Hero of the month title?

I am truly honored to be recognized as a contributor to the iDempiere project. It came as a surprise, but I’m all the more delighted for this nomination. I want to thank each and everyone for this nomination, and I’d like to assure you that I will always keep up my contributions. 

What would you like to say to other community members? Any advice or suggestions?

The way the iDempiere community leads, members and core developers run this project is nothing short of amazing. And it shows with every new release of iDempiere. I’m very pleased to be a member of this global family and honored to be a recognized contributor. Thank you so much to all for making iDempiere better every day!