In the first two posts of this series we’ve covered how to create emails based on your own custom domain name for free using Yandex and Zoho, that would give you the ability to control your email (you and those who are working with you) and make your communication look more professional. This post will cover office management and the free service we’ll be using is Bitrix24.
Office management covers many aspects; it includes communication (whether emails, messaging, calendar, task assignment, telephony, video conferencing, social media and CRM (customer relation management)), it also provides a unified repository for collaboration on files (documents, presentation, spreadsheets, invoices, etc.), projects planning tools, and HRM (Human Resources Management). Bottom line it’s like creating an intranet for your company for free.
Bitrix24 is a service that provides you with all of the above services for free for up to 12 users (the 12 users limit is now for the CRM module only) that’s perfect for small businesses. Now and without any further ado let’s dive into setting up an account and have an overview of the service.
Setting up an Account
First visit Bitrix24 website and click on the Login tab on the top menu then click on the “CREATE YOUR Bitrix24 NOW” link.
You’ll be directed to a new window where you’ll start creating your account, you can use an email account you’ve or use your Google, Facebook, etc. profile to start creating your account, I’ll be using Google in this tutorial.
You’ll be directed to a new window where you’ll start creating your company’s account, you just put your company’s name and your first and last name and then hit the create tab at the bottom of the page.
The portal will be created and you’ll be directed to a new window where you can open the portal and start customizing it, just click on the “Open Intranet” tab.
Now, here’s your portal (office management window), now we shall dive into customizing it through connecting your domain and emails.
First, you need to manage your email, by clicking on webmail on the left-hand side menu, connecting an email could be done through creating a Bitrix24 email (that won’t have your domain, so it’s not recommended), or connect your domain and start creating and managing emails (that’s recommended) and finally connecting through Gmail, Outlook, etc.). The most recommended method is through connecting your custom domain and that’s the method that will be used in this tutorial.
After clicking on the “connect” tab, a new sub menu will appear where you should put your domain and click on the “Attach Domain” tab.
Now, you’ll have to verify ownership of the domain, that can be done through various methods, the easiest (in my opinion) is through CNAME, and that’s the method used in this guide. It’s worth noting that email connection will be made through Yandex.
Setting up the CNAME in the DNS records varies from one domain registrar to another, I’m using Hover in this guide so just click on add a new record and select CNAME for the record type and fill in the information using the data provided by Yandex in the previous step. then click on the verify domain ownership tab seen also in the screenshot above. It will take some time (even a couple of hours) to be able to verify so just be patient.
Now you need to setup the MX record to setup the email, this can be done either through the CPanel or through your domain registrar panel, I’ll be using the registrar panel in this guide, first get the records using the information provided by Bitrix24 as seen in the screenshot below.
In your domain registrar panel just edit the MX record with the information from Yandex seen above.
Now, you’ve successfully connected your domain and created an email and your can add more emails and administer them
Now, go to the “Intranet Settings” to set up the overall setting for your portal (working days, admin name, method of contact, security, overall permissions, formats, etc.).
Now we shall dive into an overview about the menus and what are the services available.
User Information Editing
On the top menu you can click on the avatar to have access to your information and start editing it, through this editing menu you can edit your name, email, notification settings and photos.
Now, to the bread and butter of Bitrix24 the main menu found on the left-hand side which is divided into sections;
Click on the create tab to have access to creating a task, a calendar event, a new conversation, a group, upload files and photos and of course invite users.
That submenu gives you access to chats and calls where you can chat with team members (like any other chatting app), tasks; where you can manage tasks (assign and see assigned tasks), calendar, My Drive and My Photos (where you can upload documents and various business related files) that’s where you share and collaborate on various business files, conversations; where you can access announcements, appreciations and polls, CRM (more on that later) and finally webmail; where you can access your email.
The applications submenu gives you access to applications where you add and connect third party applications or connect an application that’s already available in Bitrix24’s marketplace (sticky notes, email marketing campaign manager).
This submenu gives you access to available groups where team members from various department/section can organize their files and communications.
This submenu will give you access to customer relation management tools like; contacts, leads, quotes, communications (emails, minutes of meeting, etc.), reports, invoices and many other tools that would make following, controlling and closing deals very easy.
This submenu gives you access to your tasks, communications, documents, calendar, etc.
This submenu gives you access to employees, company structure, drive and absence charts which help you manage your business.
This submenu gives you access to the telephony services (e.g. SIP) you’re subscribing to, balance and statistics about your telephony so you can control and manage your telephony and thus cost associated with it.
Gives you access to Bitrix24 plan you’re subscribing to.
This submenu gives you access to the intranet settings we’ve covered previously and email accounts where you can add and delete email boxes.
Bitrix24 was the first office management tool covered to help you manage and grow your business in this new era of technology, in the coming posts we’re going to cover more tools that will help you manage your business through technology.