Announcing Project Auriga

In the past month, we've spoken with a dozen different people who have expressed interest in our time, project, and task management tool. This is our core operations management system. It's been in (very slow) development since June 2005, and is a long ways from done. But certain key parts work today.

Specifically, account synchronization, time tracking, and individual scheduling.

Account Synchronization

At Freelock Computing, we focus on providing software for business operations. We break "business operations" into four key areas shared by any business: marketing, sales, operations, and finances. You can buy proprietary software to handle each of these areas, but the problem is, Quickbooks doesn't talk with Act! Just about every business application you purchase keeps its data in a silo, instead of sharing it with others.

Open Source software promises to solve this problem. By keeping data in open, standard formats and databases, it's possible to share data between systems. Project Auriga currently copies customer account data from SugarCRM, a sales management system, into its own database and into SQL Ledger, a financial system.

Time Tracking

Much of our work is done on an hourly basis. Even for fixed-price projects, it's important to track the amount of time spent so we can fully understand the costs and profitability of a project, and set prices appropriately.

We've tried basic time-tracking software, which worked well when it was just me, acting as a single contractor. As our projects have grown, we also need to track the time of our subcontractors and employees, and having each person track time separately becomes a real problem.

Project Auriga shows each person a list of tasks scheduled for the day, along with an arbitrary list of other tasks the user wants always available. Other tasks can be selected through a series of drop-down lists.

You can start the timer and select a task later. You can switch a running timer to a new task, if you find you were distracted by something else and not really working on the task you're timing. You can manually edit your time later, and confirm your hours at the end of the day before they become available to bill.

Scheduling

Here's where Project Auriga shines. Because we do a lot of small projects, each with a bunch of small (or large) tasks, we need an effective way of scheduling these tasks so we don't get overbooked. We've found it helps to put each task on a calendar, and have an easy, visual way of knowing when your next available day is.

With Project Auriga, you set up projects associated with particular clients, and tasks associated with each project. When you create a task, you provide an estimate of hours to complete that task.

Then, on the scheduling screen, you simply drag unscheduled tasks to a color-coded calendar. Green days have less than 4 hours already scheduled. Yellow days have 4-6 hours. Orange days have 6-8, and red days are already overbooked. Quick, easy, and effective.

For more...

Project Auriga is in its earliest, roughest beginnings. It will be released as an open source project under the Gnu General Public License, and we can install and administer it for you under one of our service contracts.

If you're interested in using it in your business, contact us and we'll work with you to deploy it.

If you've got some development skills and would like to use or contribute, head on over to http://www.projectauriga.org for more details, and sign up for our development list