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Looking for assistance in finding the right open source web software

By octaviancosma ·
Hello All,

I am looking for your assistance in identifying the proper open source web software to use for a non-profit project supported by our organization.

In short, it's about managing several steps in a multi-stage process of treating individual applications. Potential supporters go through a qualification form, if they are found eligible (it's based on a number of criteria, and we have the form ready, feeding results in a database), subsequently they can continue the process, at which point they are assigned a profile in the system, and their application is processed by one of a few volunteers, acting in a help-desk-like fashion.

Since we have already covered the qualification (by means of the form) we don't need that part integrated into the software I'm inquiring about. Integration would be nice, but not a must.

Overall, the whole process involves about 25 different steps, some of them requiring candidate involvement (not through the system, but offline, like sending forms via regular mail), while others only internal processing (our volunteers checking different checkboxes, confirming that certain steps have successfully passed due to positive candidate action).

Needed features:

- the candidates should be able to log in and securely check the status of their application;
- emails should be sent out once the application passes certain stages in the process (similar to an online shop, where emails are being sent once the payment goes through, the package has been sent, etc.);
- the process definition should be flexible enough to have the ability to change over time, without affecting already started applications, which should be treated by the same process as when started (but an application should be movable to the subsequent versions of the process, should this be required by the change in procedure)
- some reporting (e.g., number of applications in a certain stage, dormant applications, etc.)
- the ability to store files (<5MB/file) as binary objects in the database
- any volunteer should be able to log in and provide candidates' all details concerning their application.

We are looking for a web-based LAMP application (as our team is international), and are not demanding any Web 2.0 features, especially in the back-end portion. All we need is the ability to design/define our process (in the CRM lingo this would presumably be called a 'funnel'), and to lead our applicants through it.

We have considered working with a CRM product, but have quickly found it it's too sales-centric (which we don't do). Then we considered an ERP, which proved to be too hard to configure, and way beyond our needs (things like ordering, purchases etc. are not needed - we don't buy or sell anything, it's only about processing applications).

Some online research seems to point towards 'work-flow software' - but we're stuck there, we haven't yet found anything suitable.

Can anybody help? Again, I'll emphasize that we are unfortunately not rich to be able to purchase expensive software or consulting services. We are a small team of dedicated volunteers, but possessing the ability and willing to install and configure most available open source software.

Thank you for your answers!

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All Comments

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You need a web developer.

by seanferd In reply to Looking for assistance in ...

The developer can choose whatever else she wants on the back end with the LAMP stack. But you need this person or persons to develop your actual web pages/applications.

edit: You may need a database developer as well, but your database engine is already in the LAMP stack (unless you choose a different engine).

Also, one does not store objects in a database, but in a file system.

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Don't really want to develop from scratch, but rather to configure?

by octaviancosma In reply to You need a web developer. existent application. It's hard to believe there isn't something out there which would do the job. I just guess we don't know what to look for.

Thanks for your answer!

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Check back tomorrow - there are plenty of open-source folks here.

by seanferd In reply to Don't really want to deve ...

But it seems like you want an awful lot of disparate and specific items from one application. (But if it is out there, someone will have an idea.) Most of that stuff, you just configure or develop on top of the stack.
Linux - your OS, whichever flavor.
Apache - your webserver. You need to create some web pages or web applications to serve.
MySQL - your database engine. Something you can only configure yourself - you don't install an application into it, you have to set it up.
PHP-Perl-Python - What you use to create your webserver. Use a different language and framework if you want.

If you find an application which actually does everything you want, most of the LAMP stack is unnecessary.

Maybe one of these is the sort of CRM/ERP you need.

Edit: If you value your sanity, don't go for Java apps hosted on Tomcat.

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seanferd is right though

by Jaqui In reply to Don't really want to deve ...

while there may be several options to meet most of your needs, developers can tune any of them to fit better than they do.

It sounds like the options are actually rather limited though, so finding something that will do everything you need is likely to be extremely difficult. a website developer could extend your existing tool to fill your needs perfectly.

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Thanks - I was hoping you would comment.

by seanferd In reply to seanferd is right though

Being the Lord of Linux that you are.

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Thank you all!

by octaviancosma In reply to Thanks - I was hoping you ...

We have worked out the process, and are now about to find the right software.

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Excellent! Good luck!

by seanferd In reply to Thank you all!

I hope your endeavour works out well for you and those you serve.

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