Sometime in April 2014, we started an ambitious project to "translate" into Drupal 8 modules an in-house developed back-office management solution.
This back-office system, EK, was initiated in 2006 for internal needs. It was developed in PHP with mysql data storage. The initial idea was to have a tool that could help a new company to run its business as efficiently as possible with few constraints that are always critical in a good organization: central and unique data references (share unique information accross offices); simple to use with minimum training or learning curve (no resource for that!); flexible and cost effective; access control and security.
This system was used later in different business environments: trading, distribution and services. Along the way it was extended to new functions and capabilities based on the requirements of the users including multilingual needs as it was used in various countries with different working languages. Thus from simple invoicing and projects follow-up tool it soon covered various back-office and collaborative modules like documents management, accounting journal, cash management, internal claims and invoices, budget and reporting, duty roster to name only a few.
The key point was that it always tried to be as user friendly as possible and as standardized as possible, always identifying best practices in back-office management that could benefit any organisation. In few words EK is based on hands-on experience in managing and optimising companies workflow.
But the initial framework developped for this in-house solution became more and more difficult to extend and maintain as it grew.
Therefore Drupal 8 became an obvious solution for a migration. The main reasons are:
- The modular structure of Drupal fits perfectly with original back-office tools;
- Drupal 8 offers a new and professional development framework;
- There is a large community for support and further development ;
- There is no distribution in Drupal (8) that provides a comprehensive back-office management.
The last point is also good answer to the common question that may arise about why proposing a new back-office management solution while there are so many players (from small to extra large) with open source or subscription scheme available? EK offers different alternatives to companies and vendors in a Drupal environment.
EK as Drupal 8 modules as been used for almost 1 year to run real businesses with companies using it for their daily management tasks, cost tracking and collaborative tools from sales, payroll, accounting to projects management. Thus we can say it is today a genuine solution that runs extremely well with Drupal 8, is easy to maintain and extend.
But there is still plenty of work and improvement as necessarily it is a young and highly perfectible project.
The modules are proposed as a sandbox project with the ambition to turn it into a real distribution that could apply to multiple back-office requirements for small and medium companies. It is also an opportunity to contribute and share experience with Drupal community.