Keep your IT consultancy running smoothly with MyIT CRM

If you're looking for a solid CRM tool to handle the business end of your IT consultancy, Jack Wallen recommends giving the open source MyIT CRM a try.

CRM tools are a dime a dozen, but I found one that is designed with IT pros in mind and is worthy of your consideration. MyIT CRM can help your tech consultancy keep track of its clients, tasks, billing, and more. MyIT CRM's features include:

  • Billing and invoicing
  • Customer details, including Google Maps directions
  • Work order management
  • Work order scheduling via per-employee calendar
  • Accept payments via credit cards, Paymate, PayPal , cheques, cash, or gift certificates

Check out MyIT CRM's Demo site to get an indication as to whether it's the right tool for your consultancy. (The logins for Demo site are username: admin and password: password.) If you decide to install MyIT CRM, you need to make sure your server meets the installation requirements, which are:

  • Minimum of 8 MB of disk space
  • Apache - 2.2.14
  • MySQL - 5.0.91
  • PHP - 5.2.9 or later

Installing MyIT CRM

I describe how to install MyIT CRM on a Ubuntu server 11.04.

Step 1: Download and unpack

Download the latest stable version of MyIT CRM. Once the file is downloaded, move it to the document root of your server (in my case /var/www/). Now follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change to the document root directory.
  3. Issue the command sudo unzip (XXX is the release number).
  4. Rename the newly created directory with the command sudo mv MyITCRM-XXX MyITCRM (XXX is the release number).

Step 2: Prepare for the installation

MyIT CRM requires a database to store its information. Since the installer can't create the database, you must create it. I highly recommend using a tool like MySQL Workbench for the creation of the database. For my installation, I named the database myitcrm.

The last step before the actual installation is to rename the config file and give write permissions to the necessary files/folders.

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change to /var/www/MyITCRM/.
  3. Issue the command sudo cp conf-default.php conf.php.
  4. Give the conf.php write permissions with the command sudo chmod ugo+w conf.php.
  5. Give the cache directory write permissions with the command sudo chmod ugo+w cache.
  6. Add write permissions to the file /var/www/MyITCRM/log/access.log with the command sudo chmod ugo+w /var/www/MyITCRM/log/access.log.

You're ready to fire up the web-based installer to complete the installation.

Step 3: Web-based installer

Point your browser to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/MyITCRM/install/ to start the process. If you have not taken care of all of the prerequisites, you will be notified about what you need to do. If you have taken care of all of the prerequisites, you will land on the first page of the installer (Figure A), which requires the database, the administrator, the company, and the website information. Figure A

This is the only page for the installer. (Click the image to enlarge.)
After you fill out the necessary information (almost every piece of information is required), click the Install button, and the process will begin. After the database tables are created, you will be able to log on to your MyIT CRM site with the administrator credentials you created on the installer page (Figure B). Figure B

Enter the administrator details in this section. All of the information must be included before the installer will continue. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Step 4: Log in and configure

Point your browser to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/MyITCRM/, and you will be prompted for your administrator credentials. Upon successful authentication, you can start the process of configuring your new CRM site.

In the left navigation, the Business Setup section (Figure C) is where you can configure the general business setup, business hours, and payment options. The Business Setup section has two tabs Company Details (for company address, tax information, invoice thank you note, and company welcome note) and Localization Details (for currency symbol, currency code, and date formatting). Figure C

There isn't much to set up in Business Setup. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Once that step is complete, you can add employees, customers, suppliers, and more. Take your time when adding this information -- it will make workflow much easier if it's taken care of correctly. For example, you cannot create Work Orders until you have customers set up, and you cannot bill customers until you have the Payment Options set up. I suggest you follow this configuration order when setting up this system:

  1. Business Setup
  2. Business Hours
  3. Payment information
  4. Employees (if applicable)
  5. Invoice rates
  6. Suppliers
  7. Customers

Now you should be good to go with MyIT CRM!