With so many different open-source platforms available, figuring out which one is right for you is tough. You know you want to manipulate these apps to create specifically tailored solutions that are unique to your team but need to figure out which tool gives you the best flexibility and customizability. I've got you! In this post I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different open-source tools with large teams and projects, with my picks of the best open source product management software.
What Is Open Source Product Management Software?
Open source product management software refers to software tools that are freely available, customizable, and collaboratively developed by a community of users and developers. These tools support product managers and teams in planning, tracking, and optimizing the development of products, while the open source nature allows users to modify and extend the software based on their specific needs.
Key features include product roadmapping, backlog management, collaboration tools, and integration capabilities. These enable teams to plan and prioritize product features, manage development workflows, collaborate on tasks, and integrate with other tools, all within a customizable and open environment.
Akeneo bills itself as the #1 enterprise open source PIM—and for good reason. Akeneo is used by over 300 big name companies worldwide, like Staples, Fossil, Frankfurt Airport, and Tarkett.
Akeneo’s robust product data intelligence solutions empowers product teams to quickly and efficiently deliver relevant product content to the channels where it’s needed most by customers. They also offer plenty of free learning resources, like their “PXM for Dummies” e-book.
Akeneo PIM has a free community edition available. Enterprise level subscription pricing can be requested using their contact form and will vary depending on the number of channels needed.
X2CRM is an open source product development tool with enterprise-grade CRM, marketing automations, and a customizable sales management suite.
Marketing teams will enjoy the workflow automations that touch on customer contact across email, website, phone conversation, events, and chat. Additionally, the dashboards are clean, flexible, and easily digestible, which will empower marketing presentations to C-Suites.
X2CRM costs from $35/user/month.
AtroDAM is a free, open source digital asset management system for product managers, retailers, and brands. Product profiles are automatically connected to all relevant digital assets (photos, documents, vidoes, etc.) according to internal links you define yourself.
Their detail-oriented DAM system lets you assign favorite formats and sizers, perform mass uploads of assets with automatic duplicate checks, and easily export and import metadata using Excel.
AtroDAM is free to use and the team offers a free demo upon request.
StrikeTru’s smallPIM is a fully hosted, customizable, and agile open source product management software powered by Akeneo PIM Community Edition.
Take advantage of free extensions like their product change reports, cloud connector for digital assets, image thumbnail previews, SKU title generator, and workflow solutions.
They have no limit on user and publishing channel counts, which is great for growing product teams that value scalability.
StrikeTru’s smallPIM costs from $800/month on a 3-year contract and comes with a 14-day free trial.
Open vSwitch is used in multiple products and boasts the ability to run in many large, complex production environments. Open vSwitch is a production quality, multilayer virtual switch that empowers network automations via programmatic extension.
They support all standard management interfaces and protocols (e.g. NetFlow, sFlow, IPFIX, RSPAN, CLI, LACP, 802.1ag).
Their robust QoD control supports both traffic shaping and OVS support policing. Open vSwitch is free to use.
OpenPIM is a product information management system designed specifically for small to midsize businesses; they are free to use, easy to learn, and make it possible to automate routine processes that SMB owners don’t have time for.
OpenPIM is designed to store and optimize your product data and then distribute it across all channels: online stores, websites, and marketing channels (Amazon, eBay, PriceRunner), as well as printed catalogs, data sheets, and brochures.
OpenPIM is free to use and offers a free demo.
ownCloud is an open source product and project management software with features like simple file sharing, detailed version control, file lifecycle management, and document sharing with links shielded by passwords and expiration dates.
This tool particularly fosters collaboration by letting teams simultaneously work on documents and presentations, including annotation and feedback.
ownCloud has both desktop and mobile apps to connect anywhere.
ownCloud costs from $6/user/month and comes with a 30-day free trial.
They also have a freemium subscription available for a single user.
The MATTR platform champions a verifiable data ecosystem and can be used to extend, augment, and/or drive your application product.
The MATTR CoLab Incubator provides a creative, highly collaborative workspace between product managers and partners with which to conduct design experiments and draft proofs-on-concept. This provides in-app support to translate high-level design concepts into testable artefacts.
MATTR Enterprise has a freemium version of the product available. Their sales team offers customized pricing upon request for additional need
Elastic offers a whole suite of products from website and app search, APM data and metrics, and security information and event management (SIEM).
They excel in building modern search experiences in order to add pretuned search to your website, app, or workplace. Product managers will appreciate Elastic APM, which lets users monitor software services and applications in real-time to better position teams to fix any performance issues.
Elastic costs from $16/month and offers a 14-day free trial.
Apache OFBiz is actually a suite of business applications that can be mixed and matched to address the needs of any product team. This suite of apps is a Java based web framework with a widget based UI for faster prototype developments.
Apache OFBiz comes with a range of core modules out-of-the-box, including one specifically for manufacturing and material requirements planning (MRP) as well as another for warehousing and inventory.
Apache OFBiz is free to use.
Best customer data management
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- WP Project Manager
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- Open Loyalty
Best for product loyalty programs
- ABP Commercial
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- Open Social
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Best for data science and machine learning (ML)
How I Picked The Best Open Source Product App
What do I look for when I select the best open source product management apps? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI)
Product management has a lot of moving parts so it's imperative that the UI is easy to navigate. Product teams and stakeholders should easily be able to find what they need to collaborate and prioritize for all task management.
Product teams work in all sorts of ways so not only do you want the tool to be intuitive and user-friendly but you want it to support whatever methodology your team members are comfortable with: Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, etc.
One of the benefits of open source tools is their ability to integrate with other tools and work across multiple platforms. Does the tool's API communicate easily with platforms like Github, Asana, Jira, Slack, Trello, Apache Subversion (SVN), and more? Does the tool work well on both Android and Mac OSs?
Many open source tools are free to use but that doesn't mean we expect them to be feature-lite. Additionally, I'll be checking if paid open-source product management software offers enough additional functionality to justify the price.
What is the best open source product management software for startups?
Startups will most likely benefit from free product management software to start and then they can scale up as needed. Per our list, the following have free or freemium plans available: Apache OFBiz, MATTR Enterprise, Open vSwitch, AtroDAM, OpenPIM, and the Akeneo PIM Community Edition.
What key features can I find in open-source product management software?
- Easy product roadmaps
- User-friendly collaboration tools
- Gantt charts and/or Kanban boards
- Prioritization assistance (idea boards, voting, feedback, backlog analysis)
- Project planning templates
- Iteration management and version control (Git or otherwise)
- BONUS: SaaS time tracking, particularly for complex software development
Are there any open source roadmapping tools available?
Many of the software solutions above will have some sort of roadmapping support, as it’s a key part of the product development lifecycle. However, if you are looking for something more specific, you can try something like OpenProject. Additionally, you can check out some interactive product roadmapping tools (most are not open source, though).
What Do You Think About These Open Source Product Development Apps?
What project management platform do you prefer to use for your own product development lifecycle? Is there a project management tool that's ideal for creative product teams that you would add to this list if you could? Let us know in the comments.
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