Deciding whether you should use Open mSupply

Some thoughts on how to choose an eLMIS system.

Cost-benefit not just Cost!

We are continually asked by potential users “how much will it cost?” without us being asked about the benefits!

In short: if the benefits don’t outweigh the costs, then you shouldn’t be implementing an eLMIS like mSupply, but you can’t make that call unless you can price the benefits.

What benefits are there?

There are three very obvious benefits, and then a whole lot of more subtle ones you should also consider. The main ones are:
  1. Improved health outcomes through improved medicine availability. There is some academic literature trying to quantify improved availability in terms of lives saved. For example, this study.
    You may wish to then calculate the economic value of a life saved, as this study did.
  2. Cost saving through better procurement. We have seen 2 million USD saved in a single procurement after a country switched from per-lot tendering to using mSupply’s tender module.
  3. Reduced wastage through better quantification. Specifically, a reduction in over-ordering of stock that leads to expired medicines being discarded.

But how much will it cost?

You can view our original mSupply pricing here – this is changing fast with the rollout of Open mSupply.
Open mSupply has no license fees, and support is optional.

If you are deploying Open mSupply at country scale, it would be irresponsible of you to not engage us to support you in some fashion. The exact cost will depend on whether you want us to do the bulk of the support work, or we are able to train a local team to provide front line support. (Note that this is not eliminating front line costs- just moving them to another budget line such as MoH salaries and travel costs.

A final word on costs: the software costs are invariably less than 10% of the cost of installing a system – the majority of costs are for deployment, hardware and training. We can help you price these aspects (and maximise value-for-money) if you request it.

Our long term aim with Open mSupply is to scale to the point that we can charge a fee of $36 USD to $48 USD per site per year, and provide you with long term support, new features and security maintenance in a sustainable way.

What about OpenLMIS?

OpenLMIS is a fine piece of software, but we keep getting asked why a country would implement Open mSupply rather than OpenLMIS. Please let us know if any of the points below are not accurate- we believe they are.

  • Overall model Open mSupply supports both entering periodic requisitions and using a transactional model at all facilities. OpenLMIS is mainly built around lower level facilities submitting a periodic requisition, and the supplying facility using a simple transactional model.
  • Offline First Open mSupply is truly offline first. OpenLMIS uses browser caches, but can’t be used for long without breaking if there is no internet.
  • Warehouse (WMS) Functionality mSupply has a far bigger set of features for handling.
  • Performance Our tests show Open mSupply has much higher performance than OpenLMIS for common actions.
  • Public documentation Open mSupply has a lot of public documentation available. OpenLMIS does not.
  • Support fees Open mSupply wants you to pay a per-facility support fee, whereas OpenLMIS does not usually charge support. “Hang on” you say, “how is that an advantage?” … We use support fees to provide you with top notch support, and to carry on running and developing Open mSupply, providing you with more certainty of choosing a system that will be supported for as long as you need it to be. Note that support is optional: you can go it alone if you want to!
  • Single code base for all countries Open mSupply maintains a single code base for all countries, so that all countries benefit from bug fixes and new features. OpenLMIS has historically forked (made a copy that is no longer updated regularly from the main code base) its code. This has caused many challenges for countries on old versions.
  • Single code base for all platforms Open mSupply runs on browsers, Desktop apps and Android devices. OpenLMIS always needs you to use a web browser.