But where do you get these virtual appliances and which ones should you try? I've narrowed down the list to five and have them here for you to discover. Read on to determine if one (or more) of these appliances will serve your HR department.
1. Orange HRM
Orange HRM is clearly the leader in human resource management. This powerful open source system is used by over a million companies world-wide and offers features like: Employee information management, employee absence management, recruitment management, employee performance evaluation, employee self-service, and other HR-specific management tools. Orange HRM is an ideal system for small to medium sized businesses looking to give their human resource department the power to manage all aspects of employees from a single, web-based portal. And since Orange HRM is modular, you can add and remove modules as needed. Should you need support for Orange HRM, you can choose from one of their support plans.
2. Process Maker
Process Maker is a system that helps you improve the workflow performance. By analyzing inefficiencies and bottlenecks, Process Maker will build specific and in-depth reports to help you fine tune how your business runs. Process Maker also allows you to set up automated notifications and offers an easy to use web-based interface. And with the Dynaform Builder, you can create specific forms focused on improving the workflow between employees, departments, and more. With a drag-and-drop interface, Process Maker offers a user-friendly experience that just about any HR staff member can get up to speed with (so long as they have an understanding of report and form building).
Phreedom is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that allows the small business to enjoy some of the same tools enterprise-level businesses employ. With this virtual appliance you can: Track inventory, manage accounting and contracts, handle check writing, do bank account reconciliation, and much more. Although Phreedom offers much more than most small businesses need, it is a superb means of tracking resources within your company to help build a much more reliable and efficient workflow. Phreedom also offers a plug-in system that allows you expand beyond the standard capability.
vTiger is specific for Customer Relationship Management. The vTiger platform offers features like: Phone and e-mail integration, analysis and reporting, customer support with self-service portal, marketing/sales automation for campaigns, lead generation, billing/inventory management, Google integration, and much more. With vTiger you empower your sales force with a collaboration tool that will make their entire process far more streamlined.
Zurmo is another Customer Relationship Manager - with a twist. Zurmo claims to be the first social and "gamified" CRM. What that means is that users gain rewards for milestones. But don't let the "schtick" fool you, Zurmo still offers all the usual features found in other, powerful CRM tools. The Zurmo feature set includes: Contact management, activity management, deal tracking, reporting, workflow, marketing automation, product management, resetful API, Google Mapping integration, and more. Zurmo also offers security with role management/groups/permissions/ad-hoc teams. And since Zurmo is open source, it can be expanded to perfectly fit your company's needs.
You should find that one or more of these virtual appliances can be deployed to help bring a level of efficiency to your business you've never had. Any small business would do well to look into deploying one of these platforms - just make sure you understand how virtual machines/appliances work so you can get the most out of these tools.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.