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If you’re looking for a new project management tool, you would be remiss if you didn’t consider OpenProject, which is a platform for location-independent team collaboration. OpenProject can be used for the management of releases, tickets, hybrid projects, agile boards and enterprise projects, and it features Gantt charts, boards, members, news, calendars, backlogs, work packages, meetings, time and costs.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

OpenProject can be deployed to your data center or a third-party cloud host and installed traditionally or deployed via a Docker container. Either way, you’ll have a tool that is perfectly capable of handling your project management needs.

Once up and running, there are a few admin tasks to take care of, before you should release it to your teams for project management usage. Let me walk you through those tasks.

What you’ll need to configure OpenProject

The only thing you’ll need to follow along is a running instance of OpenProject.

How to change the default admin password

This should be done immediately because the default admin user password is also admin. To change the admin password, log into OpenProject and click the profile icon in the upper-right corner. From that popup menu click My Account. In the resulting window, click Change Password in the left navigation (Figure A).

Figure A

The My Account settings page for OpenProject.

In the Change Password window (Figure B), type admin for Current Password, and then type a stronger password for the admin users.

Figure B

Changing the admin user password in OpenProject.

How to configure the hostname and site name

Out of the box, you might see an error about a mismatched hostname. This can happen if you’re using an IP address to reach OpenProject, such as if it’s deployed to your LAN, because by default OpenProject sets the hostname to localhost:3000. We need to change that as well as the site name.

To do this, click the profile drop-down and select Administration. In the resulting window (Figure C), click System Settings.

Figure C

The OpenProject Administration Dashboard gives you plenty of options to monkey with.

In the General tab (Figure D), you want to give the site a new name in the Application Title field and then change localhost:3000 to SERVER:3000, where SERVER is either the IP address or domain of the hosting server.

Figure D

Changing the site title and hostname for OpenProject.

Scroll down and click Save.

How to create users

Your project management tool is pretty useless without teammates to collaborate with. Fortunately, OpenProject makes this a fairly simple task.

Go back to Profile | Administration and click Users & Permissions. In the new window (Figure E), click + User in the upper right corner.

Figure E

The User Management page in OpenProject.

Type a first name, last name and email address for the new user (Figure F). Click the checkbox if that user is to serve as an administrator of the site.

Figure F

Creating a new OpenProject user.

When finished click Create to add the user or click Create And Continue to save the user and immediately add another user. Because OpenProject doesn’t allow users to set their own passwords when they first attempt to log in, you must set a password for them — making sure they change it as soon as they do log in — or have the system generate a random password, which will be emailed to the user.

To take care of the user password, go back to Administration | Users & Permissions and click on the new user you just created. In the resulting window, you can either create a new password or have the system email one under the Authentication section (Figure G).

Figure G

Setting a password for a new user in OpenProject.

As soon as that user successfully logs in, they will be immediately prompted to change their password (Figure H).

Figure H

A new user is always warned to change their password.

How to configure the SMTP server

Finally, you’ll also need to configure the SMTP server settings for OpenProject. To do this, go to Profile | Administration | Email | Email Notifications. In this window, you’ll first want to change the Emission Email Address from to the admin user for the site.

Next, scroll down to the Configure Your Email Provider section (Figure I) and configure the SMTP server you’ll use for OpenProject.

Figure I

Configuring SMTP for OpenProject.

One thing to note is that OpenProject does not work well with the Gmail SMTP servers. So, if you run into any problems with Gmail, you should probably look elsewhere for an SMTP host for the OpenProject. Once finished, click Save and then click Send a Test Email to verify everything works as expected.

At this point, you’re ready to move on to the next steps with OpenProject. Enjoy this powerful new project management tool that will serve your company and your projects well.

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