With many businesses around the world having to close their offices and stay at home due to the novel Coronavirus, new solutions are needed for companies which would like to manage their projects and staff remotely.
One could go with the mainstream proprietary solutions for project management, or, you could use an open source solution like Leantime to do the task, saving yourself a lot in terms of costs while also maximizing your efficiency.
Introduction to Leantime
Leantime is an open source project management software licensed under the GPL 2.0 license. It is written in the PHP language and uses the MySQL database system for storing its data.
Leantime employs the techniques of agile project management in its workflow. Your employees will be mainly divided into projects with each project having its own members, sprints, milestones, todo lists and other important business components.
Of course, there are many nice features for each of these components in Leantime; You can assign members of your teams to specific tasks and limit them by a deadline, you can share ideas and comments with them, you can work with them on creating a business product using the “Research” component where you identify the problem and purpose a solution… Much much more.
A software such as Leantime could be useful for you if you have a small or medium sized company, and you want to manage your company remotely with as much less hassle as possible.
Features of Leantime
- Fully open source and can be used as a self-hosted deployment.
- Since it was written in PHP and MySQL, its installation is quite trivial just like any other PHP script. It won’t take time of you.
- Made mainly for teams utilizing agile methods approach.
- Clean and simple user interface, straightforward to learn.
- The system utilizes Ajax technology for live updating its interface in important areas, making it feel much smoother.
- Focused on delivering business value without wasting much time on processes.
- Shows you graphs, calendars and total working hours for whatever component you may wish.
- Built-in time tracking system for each employee per task.
- It has todo lists where you can drag and drop tasks, milestones where you can set goals and assign people to them, timesheets to keep track of project’s progress and employees efficiency and how much hours they worked, “research” component where you try to identify your customers and their problems and possible solutions, “ideas” component for general pinboard-like discussions related to the project, and finally “Retrospectives” where you can evaluate your team’s efficiency and how your project went.
- Integration with Mattermost, Slack and Zulip.
- Possibility to manage more than one organization or company branch in the same deployment.
Leantime Pricing & Open Source
Leantime is an open source project management software, and licensed under the GPL 2.0 license. You can easily grab it from GitHub and install it right now on your local machine or production server, and start working!
However, Leantime developers also offer a cloud version of their software. For as low as $5 per employee per month, you can outsource hosting, security, backups and deployment issues to Leantime developers and use their cloud instance to do your company’s project management.
There is also another plan for those who wish to deploy Leantime to their own dedicated instances and cloud, which Leantime developers can also do for them based on the enterprise subscription.
A Walk through Leantime
In the image above you can see the first user interface after you login to Leantime. You’ll see project’s components on the left side, backlog burndown chart in the center with a list of to-dos under it, and finally project progress and milestones progress on the right side.
You can easily switch between projects here or create new ones:
The software includes a small built-in tour system to guide on each component you open:
In Leantime to-do lists are displayed by default on a Kanban board. Employees in the company would switch tasks between being new, in progress, blocked, waiting for approval and done. It is very similar to the approach in services like Trello, for example.
You can drag and drop tasks easily too:
And assign people, milestones and deadlines for them:
Each task can carry multiple files and comments:
Milestones are used in to-do lists and other components to specify the required goals and deadlines. You can easily add milestones in Leantime and also change their start & end time quickly via playing with it milestone block as you see in the GIF image above.
Leantime has a built-in feature to track working hours for each employee. They can select a task from the Kanban board and announce that they are working on it, and then start a timer to count how much hours they’ve spent on it.
Then you can see how much each employee has worked this between specified dates and what tasks did they work on. This is especially useful if you are billing your employees per working hour and you need to see detailed reports of them.
There are also two small checkboxes to tell whether those working hours are approved or have been invoiced.
Here’s where real magic happens. In the “Research” component you’ll be able to answer multiple questions related to the business aspect of your projects, and by doing so, you’ll be able to collaborate with your team in figuring out what’s the best solution and product you can deliver to customers based on the data you have entered.
The following input fields are supported for each question:
The ideas tab component is a general pinboard-like area where you and your team can share notes related to the projects you are working on. You can share text, files and images and also attach them to milestones if they are related to them.
In this way, you don’t have to rely on another 3rd-party service to host a free board like this one.
It’s all integrated in Leantime!
One important aspect of any agile method is “retrospectives”. Retrospectives are recurring meetings & evaluations for how a sprint went with the team, what tasks were they able to accomplish and what did they fail to.
Leantime supports the retrospectives feature by providing a special component where you and your team can answer the 3 main questions of agile retrospectives and also attach them to milestones. In this way, you can always keep track of your progress.
The system also supports having multiple retrospectives whenever needed; you can add one anytime you want and then invite your team members to participate.
Finally we have the project settings window. Here you can tweak some settings related to the project such as its name, client/product, approval, budget, files and discussions.
Each project can be part of a larger “product” or “client”, so you can use this division to fulfill multiple branches in your company for example, where each team works on a different project in a different sector.
Leantime can be integrated with Slack, making your users capable of receiving updates and notifications via various channels over there:
This is a video tour created by the developers of Leantime. Although it is for an older version, most of the functionality is still the same:
As we previously said, Leantime is a PHP script that uses MySQL database. So its installation is quite trivial, just as if you were installing WordPress.
Alternatively, you can install it as a Docker container:
docker run -d -p 80:80 --network leantime-net \ -e DB_HOST=mysql_leantime \ -e MYSQL_USER=admin \ -e MYSQL_PASSWORD=321.qwerty \ -e MYSQL_DATABASE=leantime \ --name leantime leantime/leantime:latest
Or you can consider the premium/cloud subscriptions provided by the developers.
So this is the end of our tour in Leantime. If you have reached this far then you are probably decided now on whether you would want to go with Leantime or not. In any case, it is a great open source project management software, and can be used to fulfill real-life projects and goals.
If you have any questions or comments about Leantime, we would love to hear them in the comments below.