Make Magazine has a tutorial on the OpenERP enterprise resource planing tool. It’s a project manager for tracking a project from an idea to fulfillment. The tutorial runs through one project example and explains how to setup all the steps along the way.
ERP systems have been around for several decades, but for much of that time they have been shockingly expensive, often in the millions of dollars. Luckily, the open source community has come forward with a number of options that are hacker friendly and scaled for small and medium size businesses. If there was ever a time for automation in a new start up hardware business, this is it.