How to Get Things Done with Your Team Using Collabtive

In a previous article, we explored how you can keep your tasks and other to-do’s organized with Zanshin. But what if you’re working with a team? How do you keep track of who is doing what, and when? You could use e-mail (which gets unwieldy), a Google Doc of some sort (which is better, but still far from elegant), or face-to-face (either in the true sense of sitting down at a meeting, or via new tools like IM or Google Hangouts). While all of these methods have their time and place, a great way to keep track of progress on a project is using a system designed for that task. Collabtive is a web application that includes what most project groups need, and is simple enough for anyone to use.

Since Collabtive is a MySQL and PHP-based application, we’ll need to install on a LAMP server. The download of the application contains a “readme” file for installation on a typical web host – you could also add this to an existing Bitnami stack you have as described here in order to test it out first.

You’ll need to start the installation by going to “http://localhost:[port]/path/to/collabtive/files/install.php”. The first installation screen asks for a few simple details, including the language you’d like the interface to be in, some information on missing software components (if any), and the credentials for the database you created for Collabtive, as shown below.

installing Collabtive

The next screen prompts you to create a new user.

collabtive creating new user

That’s it! Your new project management system is installed.

Logging into your new Collabtive installation will land you on the Desktop, which shows you a summary of the projects you’re working on, and your work items within those projects. There’s nothing now, so let’s go about creating some.

Click on the “Projects” tab.

collabtive projects

Next, click “Add Project”. The next screen will give you an opportunity to add a title for the project, a description, an overall due date, a budget, and indicate which team members will take part in it.

collabtive add project

The next screen will give you an opportunity to add a title for the project, a description, an overall due date, a budget, and indicate which team members will take part in it.

Once you create a project, it will appear as an item on the “Projects” tab.

collabtive- new project

The first step in your project (even before you create it here in Collabtive) should be to identify all the things that will need to happen before the project is considered finished. In Collabtive, you can use these things to create Tasklists. Click on the “Tasklists” tab within the project, then the “+” button to add one. You’ll need to give it a name and a description. Don’t worry about the “Milestone” pull-down, we’ll deal with that later, but do keep in mind that it will be useful to separate the project into phases, each one with its own associated Tasklist and Milestone. We’re creating a simple project, so let’s just make this list “All Tasks.”

collabtive project: new task list

Once the list is created, you can add tasks to it by clicking the “+” button or “Add Task” tab within a Tasklist.

collabtive project: newtask

Give the task a title, a description, due date, and assign to a team member, and you’re off and running, managing your projects. However, since Collabtive is most valuable when you’re working in a team environment, let’s set up some of your colleagues to use it. In the upper-right of the browser window, you’ll find four icons. Hover over the wrench icon (which is “Administration”), and you’ll see three more. Click the middle one (“User Administration”), then click the “+” button or “Add user” tab in the “User administration” section at the top. You’ll need to give the new user a name, password, and Role (for colleagues, you’ll probably want to use the “User” role) – the other fields are optional.

collabtive-newuser

With these features alone, you can use Collabtive to be an effective way for teammates to keep up to speed on how projects are progressing.