Odoo is free. You read it right. Odoo, the business application framework, is free. Free as in free beer. Free as in no license fees. Free as in "implement it now, grow with it, and never pay a dollar to Odoo." Odoo is free.
More precisely, it can be free. Odoo is licensed as open core. This means there's a whole lot to functional Odoo that you can't use on without paying. By now, you've read the differences between Odoo Enterprise and Odoo Community, or as I call it, Free Odoo. If you haven't, search and read, then come back. I'm sharing how I started loving Odoo, grew to despise the whole concept, and am finally learning to just get along.
Odoo has a strong promise: install Odoo, and manage your accounting, inventory, purchasing, scheduling, lunch plans, dog grooming schedules, hotel reservations, on and on and on. Odoo turns out to really be a business application framework. Is that consultingspeak? Kind of. Hold on while I fly fast and loose with terms and definitions:
Odoo is a combination of an application framework and ready built base objects.
The objects part means means that a running Odoo instance has a concept of a contact, of an item, of an accounting record. The framework part means Odoo is good at storing, updating, searching/retrieving, relating, and displaying these kinds of data.
So, out-of-the-box Odoo is ready to be a lot of things, but it's not really very much, well, out of the box. It needs apps and more (a whole lot more). If you were to buy licenses for Odoo Enterprise, you get access to a whole catalog of pre-built apps. The community version comes with apps also, but they've been strategically selected to provide just enough functionality to make you need something else. You either need Enterprise, or you need to find/write/integrate your own apps.
Odoo is a modern web app - which means it's complicated for many people to deploy and keep maintained. As a modern app, it depends on many, many components. Most of these are not part of Odoo itself. They're standalone projects, written and maintained by people with no relationship to Odoo, other than Odoo decided to include their project. These components get updated to fix bugs and support features. If you were to install once and forget about maintaining your instance of Odoo, you'd be living with the damned in short order. When your browser gets updated, for example, a new security feature might not be compatible with your unchanging Odoo instance.
You simply have to get over any misconceptions that you're going to install Free Odoo and start building out your common business processes. You can contract with Odoo for the Enterprise Odoo and get up and running fast(er). You'll be tied to their ecosystem and you'll have to pay the recurring payments to be on their plans. This might be a fantastic deal. In many cases, it's the best way to go. But, this article is talking about free Odoo.
If Free Odoo is still for you, keep reading these articles.