Consultancy Series : Open Source Software for Business-Mifos

Series on Open Source Software for Business

Micro Finance Institutions

I have being working on encouraging many organizations to consider open source alternatives to a lot of the commercial products that are around at the moment.

Advantages of Open source vs. Commercial Product

-It’s simple: open source means that there are developers all over the world working to make this product better as opposed to commercial products who are worked on by relatively small team and all additional software features or update are based on their commercial viability

-Lastly it’s a far cheaper option; you don’t pay for the product itself you pay for the Implementation and customization only

Today I want to talk about Mifos and how rural banks and many micro finance institutions can this free open source software to administer and run their institutions .

Mifos is a management information system (MIS) featuring a user-friendly, web interface running on top of a robust MySQL database. Flexible to meet your unique operational needs and scalable for rapid growth, Mifos enables real-time access to data across your organization from any web browser.

Features include:

• client management,

• loan and savings portfolio management,

• transaction processing,

• Social and business reporting and analytics.

Advantage

Efficiency & Ease of Use– Speed up your client acquisition cycle, increase loan officer productivity, and manage your portfolio securely and effectively.

Growth & Scalability– Mifos is a centralized web-enabled solution built on top of a MySQL database. Its built-in scalability means you can rapidly open new branches and roll out new products and services; all supported by a modern architecture with the robust capacity to support up to 1 million clients.

Transparency & Insight– Through real-time access to your data and a powerful reporting engine, use effective business analytics and transparency to guide your strategy and satisfy external reporting requirements.

Security & Data Integrity– Client data is secure from corruption and fraud through in-depth audit trails tracking all changes, coupled with a granular role-based permission system.

Flexibility & Agility– Proactively respond to competition and changing client needs by rapidly creating new services through on-the-fly product definition.

Innovation & Evolution– Broaden your outreach and accelerate innovation by incorporating new front-end technologies and integrating with other systems and networks on top of Mifos’ common platform.

Intimacy & Outreach– Client management tools like surveys help you collect market knowledge and deliver value-added services. Let your field staff focus more on customers’ needs and less on data entry.

If you work for a Micro-finance institution and are interested in Mifos deployment … what are the next steps …

-Firstly you need to document your processes as a microfinance institution , e.g. what are the steps in loan processing , what are documents produced and who are the officers involved in this process .This can be done by management and in-house IT team or hire a professional Business analyst to facilitate the process

-Secondly you need to investigate Mifos and see if it aligns with your business needs, If you find that it mostly aligns and that little changes need to be made (i.e. not more that 50 % percent of the core Mifos system needs to be customized) then I recommend you talk a technical person like me who can work on customization and implementation. E.g. If in addition to having the system working in your offices you want your loan officers to able to register new customers and collects loan payments via their mobile phone

If a lot more than 50 % of features need to be customized it’s better to look at other micro-finance MIS solutions available

-Thirdly Implement the Solution: that means if you don’t already have computers you need to purchase a couple, if you don’t already have your computers networked have them networked so that Technical team can implement the system on your premises

2 Comments
  1. I like Open Source and you do make strong points for it in the article, but commercial has its place. Especially in the case where an open source project just dies and there is no one available to support it (because they’ve moved onto the next cool thing), yet you have serious infrastructure invested and sitting on it.

    We have many custom applications we are supporting at our company built on open source projects which are no longer supported. None is better, but OSS is certainly cheaper.

    Another OSS is that they tend to evolve much quicker than Big Businesses can adjust (with training costs, hardware upgrades, patches, etc). So one must certainly tread carefully with OSS. For instance, I just read online that Subversion (SCM) is beginning to die out in favour of Git, just when I was beginning to put more code online with Google Code, which is built on top of SVN.

    Dilemma!!!

  2. i totally agree with you , commercial has its place , in this case i am looking at small micro -finance institutions that need to get up and running quickly and that fact that i can quickly leverage technologies
    But also even though open source products are susceptible to this problem it also happens to commercial products

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