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 October.
Steven Sackett is an icon within the community. He has been contributing his incredible functional knowledge since the very beginning. He is among the most respected persons in the community when it comes to accounting topics and he is always eager to help and step in when there are doubts about specific topics.
One of the co-founders now retired
Tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I spent my childhood in Sydney, Australia and have lived in Melbourne for many years
How did you get into programming?
I am an accountant by training, not a programmer! I think perhaps this is the first time a non-programmer has been selected for this award. Hopefully it shows that an ERP project like iDempiere benefits from utilising the skills of others to help with functionality, documentation and similar tasks.
How long have you been part of iDempiere?
I have been involved with iDempiere and its for-runners since 2003. Adaxa was formed in that year specifically to be an implementer of Compiere. My business partner Martin Fuggle and I went to Compiere training in Denver Colorado around that time.
I had previously worked as CFO of a company that developed and implemented ERP systems (used by such organisations as the Australia Post Office). Martin and I could see that GUI’s were going to be the way of the future for ERP systems and wished to be involved with their development and deployment in a business we owned. We had developed some experience as managers in a company that became the AU/NZ distributor of what was then known as the ‘Great Plains Dynamics’ accounting system. We hoped that Compiere’s structure and use of a proper database would enable scaling to large businesses which early GUI based ERPs like the early versions of Dynamics were not suited for.
What is your experience in other OS projects?
Is there something that makes you passionate about open source in general and iDempiere in particular?
I just have a preference for open source products and projects that has developed over many years. I have always enjoyed working with iDempiere and its predecessors because the Active Dictionary enabled me as a non-programmer to be able to both do things for myself, contribute to upskilling new users and also contribute improvements and functional extensions up to the point where code changes were needed.
What does your typical day look like?
… like that of most recently retired people 😉 It is very enjoyable to be able to explore possible functional changes and improvements without the requirement to also be running a business and dealing with customer needs.
If you have your customers for whom you implement or customize iDempiere, what are they like and what do they typically want?
How I wish I knew the answer to that question! Certainly over many years the answer to that question has changed and it drives where implementers must look for new iDempiere customers.
In earlier years we found that customers came from one of the following:
- Smaller businesses with complex requirements who had reached the stage where running their business on a financial system and multiple spreadsheets just no longer made any sense.
- Businesses that were running on a proprietary system which was no longer supported and their staff had become used to managing a system and were confidant in their ability to be self-reliant.
- Businesses that were running on an in-house developed system that had reached the point where further investment in old technology made no sense and for whom iDempiere became their new in-house system where someone else provided 80% of the code for free.
- Businesses that had functional requirements that were not well satisfied by off-the-shelf proprietary systems.
In every case, cost was a significant driver of decisions.
In more recent times the number of customers that fell in (2) and (3) has fallen significantly and, of course, we have the growing need to compete with proprietary cloud hosted systems “that do everything the customer needs without modification, training or data conversion … and for only a few dollars per month per user.”
What are some of the things you would like to improve in iDempiere?
I have difficulty answering this question because the appropriate response to any suggestion is “we are an open source project so please feel free to contribute your efforts to achieve whatever improvements you think are necessary and help to motivate others to join with you.”
It is my view that the efforts of the marketing team are very important to make known to prospective users all the great things that the core development team and other plugin contributors have provided and continue to provide. Letting more people know what iDempiere can do and what the project has achieved and that ‘open source’ is not something to be feared must be critical to the project’s success.
From my personal perspective I struggle with what functional changes should be delivered by changes to core and what should be delivered as plugins. I see the argument for both. I wish there was a clearer process to propose, discuss and evaluate possible improvements to core that relate to functionality that may benefit all users.
How does it feel to win the October 2022 Hero of the month title?
I feel honoured! I particular hope that others who, like me, are not able to contribute as a programmer may be encouraged to contribute to iDempiere in ways that their experience and skills permit.
What else would you like to say?
I would like to say that it has been a pleasure to interact with so many people in the community on something that we all feel passionate about. I would like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of all the people in the community who have made iDempiere a success over so many years.
I would also like to thank my colleagues at Adaxa who have guided and assisted me over many years. I shall always remember the advice heard so often: “accountants should not try to design software, just tell us what you want it to do!” It was always good advice 🙁
I am a systems engineer with a great passion for open source, software development, and technology in general. I have been part of the iDempiere community since 2012. I believe the enterprise world is one of the most aggressive environments out there. Companies tend to ruthlessly compete against each other. That is why seeing competitors co-exist and cooperate in harmony in iDempiere (and OSS communities in general) is so interesting to me.