If your small business needs a way to track project and employee time, you need software. Many smaller businesses rely on spreadsheets or consider draining their coffers or their IT staff's time for such tracking, but this doesn't have to be the case when software like eHour is available. eHour is open source, web-based time management software that can help you and your company better manage time spent on projects.
eHour's feature set includes:
- Extensive reporting for customers, projects, users, departments, or a selection
- Customizable localization and currency
- Role-based users (user, reporting, and administration)
With eHour, you can:
- Create multiple projects per customer;
- Assign multiple users to the same project;
- Set up different start and end dates as well as varied hourly rates per user for each project assignment;
- Create default projects (e.g., days off and sick leave) and assign all users to them; and
- Export reports to spreadsheets.
The eHour system can be installed on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Since eHour has an embedded web server and database, the only requirement is Java Runtime Environment (regardless of platform). The basic install steps are as follows:
- Install the JRE for your platform.
- Download the installation file associated with your platform.
- For the Linux installation, give the install file executable permissions with the command chmod ugo+wehour-XXX-standalone-unix.sh and then issue the command ./ehour-XXX-standalone-unix.sh (XXX is the release number). Note: To issue the install command on Linux, you will need to have administration rights, which means either su'ing to root or using sudo.
- For Windows, double-click the downloaded .exe file.
The install wizard will start up and only requires you to locate an installation directory (for Linux or on on Windows, it will automatically install in the necessary location). Once the installation is complete, you will need to start the eHour service (remember, it's a web-based system). Here's how this is done:
On Windows: Go to Start | All Programs | eHour | eHour.
On Linux: Open a terminal window and issue the command /opt/ehour/ehour.
Now that the service is running, you can access eHour from any web browser by pointing it to http://ADDRESS_TO_MACHINE:8000 (ADDRESS_TO_MACHINE is the IP address of the machine hosting eHour).
By default, the login administration credentials are:
- user: admin
- password: admin
Enter the login administration credentials, and you are ready to start setting up eHour for use.
After you log in, you need to change the admin password. Follow these steps:
- Click the Manage drop-down.
- Select Users.
- From the User Management page (Figure A), click the Admin, eHour user.
- In the Password section, enter and confirm the new password.
- Go ahead and fill out the details of your admin user.
- Click Save.
- Log out and log back in.
eHour User Management (Click the image to enlarge.)The next step is to configure the system. Click the System drop-down and select Configure eHour. In this new screen (Figure B), you will want to start with the General tab and work your way to the right (be sure to hit Save before you move on to the next tab). In the Customize tab, the only customizable option is to upload an image that will be used in exported spreadsheet reports. The Audit tab allows you to configure what actions are logged; you can chose between None, Write, Read, All. Use this for debugging purposes. Figure B
eHour system configuration (Click the image to enlarge.)
It's time to start managing the system. From the Manage drop-down (Figure B), you can manage Departments, Users, Customers, Projects, and Assignments. The way the options are ordered in the drop-down indicates the order in which you should configure them. Some elements require other elements to already be created; for example, you cannot create assignments until you have users in the system.
- Step up your Departments.
- Create Users and assign users to Departments.
- Create Customers.
- Create Projects and assign a Customer and a Project Manager from Users.
- Create Assignments from selected users.
Once a user is created and assigned a project that user can log in to the system and start recording hours to be associated with the project. With hours reported in for projects, the administrator (or anyone who is assigned to the Report role) can view reports on Projects, Users, Departments, and/or Customers.
The eHours time tracking tool is one of the best systems for small businesses to track time that I have come across. Not only is the installation incredible easy, it's a breeze to use. Try eHours and see if it fits your small business's need for tracking time on various fronts.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.