Exciting New Odoo 12 Features Revealed (Odoo Experience Day 1)
Another year at the Odoo experience. Numbers are growing every year, not only with new visitors but also Odoo staff who created a sea of purple shirts on entry to the auditorium. It was nice to see many familiar faces but also many new ones. Odoo is now 400 strong but projecting to have over 1000 employees in a few year’s time.
So first up was the keynote address by Odoo Founder, Fabien Pinckaers. The focus over the last couple of years has been more directed to user experience and performance enhancements, and this year has continued that trend. I think this is a definite indication of product maturity, however, I continually marvel at how much they can accomplish in one year, and from one perspective I wish they would slow the process down somewhat so clients who have recently implemented with the current version did not immediately feel left behind.
I will go through the features as they were presented:
New Document Management System:
All incoming documents are initially stored in a document management system and various actions can be performed on them such as messaging them to the responsible person for signature and then auto-returning to the sender.
For AP invoices an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) utility has been built in and during the demonstration, was very effective in converting the document directly into a supplier invoice. For this it uses a certain amount of “AI” and the engine can be trained for documents from different suppliers. Expense account allocation can also be learned based on the description. There was no mention of a cost for this service so the assumption is that it will be free for the enterprise version.
Bank reconciliations have become smarter and now recognise statement line descriptions to automatically assign or allocate matching transactions, e.g. “bank fees” will learn to match the “Bank fees” GL account and create the transaction to reconcile against.
Website and Lead Generation:
There is now some smarts in the website to find visitors based on their IP address – so even if a visitor did not complete your info form, Odoo will do its best to locate the company and any associated senior contacts including email addresses and phone numbers. Odoo stats suggests that lead generation can be increased from an industry average of 2% to 15%.
When entering a company in the CRM, Odoo will do a search and find a lot of information about the company and its profile, industry etc – not just the name and logo.
Sales orders now have more easily accessible sections which can make quotes look a lot neater. The product configurator has been enhanced somewhat but also can be accessed directly from sales orders with very similar functionality to the way the configurator was displayed on the website previously – very nice.
Some general improvements include enhanced ability to use the keyboard in all forms and the ability to press the “Alt” key which will place the short-cut key appropriate to each form element on top of the element itself – that is handy when learning. Also, the user to-do lists now can be associated with actions such as send an email base on a particular template. This is a feature that can potentially greatly improve productivity but will need careful setup and testing.
Website and eCommerce:
The integrated website and eCommerce features have been enhanced – multi websites are now available within the one company or different companies – this includes completely different themes & colours, etc. Of course, they can all share the same products and customers. Including an image now has the ability to search copy-left image sites directly rather than having to hunt for an image first and then upload it. Images can now be cropped and rotated directly in the designer. And the SEO page and facility has been improved.
Dashboards have been improved on the CRM, Sales and Warehouse modules and several KPI’s have been included by default. Additional KPI’s can be added using the Odoo studio. A new cohort view of data has been added and is available in certain situations. Also, new groupings by date are available in the pivot table view.
In the inventory module, there has been a lot of work done on the barcode features. It can now run disconnected from the server for speed and is capable of doing scan-packing and product selection based on serial/lot numbers, i.e. scanning the lot selects the product. It also has improved its appearance on mobile devices and the workflows for the different stock operations.
A really exciting addition is the introduction of a fully integrated Internet of Things (“IoT”) hardware solution. This was a small box based on a raspberry-pi processor with connections for various devices such as scales or cameras, etc. Connections to the devices can be made with USB, wireless, Bluetooth etc. The IoT box is first connected to the local network and then the IoT Odoo module can locate it and register any devices that are attached to it. These devices can then be associated to various required inputs in any workflow, although the demonstration was only for collecting data in a manufacturing step. Very clever and forward thinking.
The Odoo studio can now update existing reports such as invoices or create completely new reports. It has a nice drag’n’drop interface with tables, sub-total and total functionality. I don’t think it should be considered as a general-purpose report writer, but certainly, the ability for the user to create or modify their own PO, quotes and invoices is a good feature.
Odoo.sh has been improved tremendously and now has a built-in editor and code can be updated directly and installed on a staging or development branch. The code can be pushed back to the GitHub repository if necessary. This is definitely not meant to be for full project development but experienced programmers would find it very useful for debugging or quick patches. Developers now have access to the Linux shell and full ssh access to the Odoo instance and the ability to alter some server parameters such as the number of workers. I did not find out if it was possible to open up a tunnel to get direct access to the Postgresql database.
Other highlights from the day were:
Push-pull rules have been merged so operations like warehouse transfers are much easier to set up. There is also a nice route visualising tool that quickly allows a user to see the various routes a product can take and makes it easy to spot gaps or errors. Routes to my mind have always been a bit of a “black art’ so this enhancement is certainly a welcome addition.
An independent developer, Yenthe Van Cinneken, who has been writing blogs for developers for several years, is now launching “Oocademy” which is a platform for developers to quickly learn the Odoo development craft. The guy was very impressive and is running a Kickstarter campaign with attractive 3, 6 & 12-month access prices and also options for business. Great initiative for someone wanting to get up to speed quickly with Odoo development.
An interesting development by Camp to Camp is an Odoo simulator which itself is written in Odoo. It can be used for teaching (which was its original purpose) and also for stress testing. Simulation scenarios can be established to automate any feature of Odoo and leave students to maintain other related features – the example demonstrated was the automation of sales and the student has to initiate different scenarios to make sure stock was kept up to date and profit was maximised by altering marketing budget and product prices. Very cool.
Odoo shoe - seems to be the fashion here
Jonathan Wilson – Director of Sales (Odoo), WilldooIT
Jonathan has over 35 years’ experience in the IT industry, including 15 years the CEO and leader of WillowIT Pty Ltd. Jon’s vision led him to establishing establish WillowIT as the first Australian Odoo (formerly OpenERP) partner in 2009. Odoo is now the global leader in the provision of open source ERP and business software solutions. The company quickly established itself, becoming Odoo Best Partner Asia/Pacific on two occasions.
As an author and founding partner of Nexus Business Software, Jonathan held the positions of Director and CTO for 12 years. At its peak, Nexus had over 1,000 active sites in Australia, Asia and Canada.
Previous technical management roles have been at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Theatre Company and the Victorian Road Research Board.
Jonathan has proven expertise in business process design and experience in driving company growth. His strengths as a technical visionary have added value to the Group’s expansion plans.