Open Atrium is a free open source team collaboration software that lets the team collaborate online. It is a nice integrated collaboration suite that comes with modules for blogs, calendar, document collaboration, case management, online files, and a general shoutbox. This is not an exhaustive list of features, and it even supports adding more features on top of the core features that are available.
Open Atrium uses a client-server model. You can install this software on your server running PHP, Apache, and MySQL. On client side, user just needs a browser, and nothing needs to be installed. So, it can be virtually accessed from anywhere.
One of the great things I like about this is that it can be installed on your own server, so data stays within your intranet. Storage of data on 3rd party servers is one of the turn-offs for collaboration software like Deskaway, and Teamlab.
Note: It is not necessary that you have to install it on your own server. System requirements for Open Atrium are satisfied in most of the shared hosting and VPS plans as well. So, you can even purchase cheap shared hosting, and just install Open Atrium there.
Once you have installed Open Atrium, it is extremely easy to customize. It uses the concept of groups. You can create groups, and organize users in that. One user can be part of one or more groups, and can have different level of access in each of those groups.
Then users under a group can collaborate with each other. Concept of group is interesting to group people working on same task or same project together. Even people in the same department can be grouped together. For example, you can have a group for HR department in your organization. You can also have different groups for different projects that people in your organization are working on.
Following are some of the collaboration features that are available in Open Atrium:
Create Blogs: Users in Open Atrium can create various blogs and blog entries to track anything, or even share anything with entire group. For example, if you just got off a call with client and got new set of requirements from him, you can simply write up a blog post explaining all that. This will be available to all the users in the group, and you won’t need to communicate the same thing each member of the group separately. This also ensures that all the information is available at a centralized place, and not scattered across emails.
Collaborate on Documents: Document collaboration feature of Open Atrium is called Notebook. You can create and work on documents in this. It also lets you compare revisions, and print documents.
Case Tracker: This is like a common to-do list. You can create any task that needs to be completed, and assign it to any member of that group. You can also track status of that task, and also post clarifications / updates on that.
Calendar: This is a nice shared calendar on which you can post events, and even post availability / unavailability of anyone. Just a quick glance at it shows you exactly what is going on in any given day.
ShoutBox: This is a quick way to share messages and links with people in your group. It is not like an instant messenger, but more like a Twitter feed. Just quickly post a message for everyone to see.
Dashboard: This is the starting point of Open Atrium. It can be customized for each group. The dashboard shows all the recent activity, and notifications.
Open Atrium is really good. I wish it had some more features, like, an instant messenger, and integrated email client. But I am sure someone will create plugins for that owing to easily extendable nature of Open Atrium.
Video Overview of Open Atrium:
So, if you have been looking for a collaboration software that you can install on your own server, and keep all your data in-house, go ahead and install Open Atrium. Let us know your experience with it.
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