In the first two posts of this series we’ve covered how to create emails based on your own custom domain for free using Yandex and Zoho, in the previous (third part of this series) we’ve covered office management using the free tier of Bitrix24, in this post we’ll cover office management using Feng Office.
As we’ve clarified in the previous post, office management covers many aspects of the office day to day activities like; communication (emails, messaging, telephony, video conferencing, social media), files collaboration (documents, presentation, spreadsheets, invoices, etc.), planning tools for projects, and HRM (Human Resources Management).
Feng Office is a service that provides you with all of these services, there are multiple editions of Feng office depending on your needs, the edition we’re covering is Feng Office community edition as it’s the free one that you can deploy on your own server (shared hosting plan, VPS, etc.) for free. Now without further ado let’s dive into the guide.
Setting up an Account
I shall be installing Feng Office on my shared hosting plan in this tutorial, as stated above Feng office could be deployed on other solutions (on-premise servers, VPS, etc.). My shared hosting plan is on SiteGround which has Cpanel so the installation is straightforward first log into your Cpanel account and then select Autoinstallers >> softaculous.
You’ll be directed to a new window from the menu on the left-hand side, select Project Management and then Feng Office.
Feng office installation window will appear in the main window, select install from the top menu, then select the domain you want to install Feng Office on (if you have multiple domains on the same hosting plan otherwise you’ll only have one domain) then select the directory where you want to install it, for me it’ll be office (in this case the link to my Feng Office will be howtolearn.me/office) then select your site name, admin username and password, and then hit the install tab at the bottom of the window.
After the installation is complete you can log into your installation using your domain and the directory you’ve used during the installation process you’ve used in the previous step e.g. www.MyAwesomeBusiness.com/office (in my case it’s howtolearn.me/office). Use the credentials you’ve created in the previous step to log into your account.
Now, here’s your portal (office management window), we shall dive into customizing it by adding your company’s profile and emails.
Customizing Feng Office
First, you need to add your logo, company information and add more users, to do that go to “general configuration” from the previous menu and you’ll be directed to a new window where you should select “Optimization Data”.
You’ll be directed to a new window where you can start changing the logo by clicking on “change logo”, edit the company information by clicking on “edit company information” and finally adding users by clicking on ‘Add user”as it can be seen the process is very unintuitive and straight forward.
Now, let’s setup the email to start sending and receiving emails through Feng Office, but before starting it’s worth noting that Feng office doesn’t offer email hosting it’s just a client “interface” for your email, for email hosting you can use Yandex, Zoho as shown in the previous guides or you can host it on your own server shared hosting plan for free. To setup the email; first just select mail from the top menu. then you’ll be directed to a new window, select accounts >> add email account.
Now you’ll be directed to a new window where we shall start the actual setup of the email, in the first tab “Incoming Settings” you shall setup Feng Office to fetch your email. In the account ID type your email e.g. x@MyAwesomeBuiness.com , in the password type your email password, in the connect method select IMAP (it’s preferred not to use pop) and in the server address that would vary from a provider to another the simplest way to know it just search for the IMAP setup for your provider e.g. Yandex IMAP configuration (imap.yandex.com, port 993 over SSL). Then select the folders you want to fetch.
Now in the next tab “SMTP settings” you’ll setup sending email, again to know the server address just search for the SMTP setup for your provider e.g. Yandex SMTP configuration (smtp.yandex.com, port 465 over SSL). Now depending on your mail hosting provider, you should select the option in SMTP server authentication I’m using Yandex so I shall select “Input SMTP username and password” the username is the name before the “@” sign in your email address ”X” in X@MyAwesomeBusiness.com and password is your email password. Finally click on the “add email account” button on the bottom of the window.
In the final two tabs you just customize the sender name and permissions.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully connected your email to Feng Office and you can add more emails for more users (employees) and start administering them.
Now we shall dive into an overview of the menus and the services available.
Access the Settings Menus
To access settings you just go to the character avatar at the top right-hand corner and from the drop-down menu select settings.
To have access to the system module options window you just click on the system module in the settings window, from there you can add and remove modules to your Feng Office installation. You can access these modules “more on that later” from the top menu.
Users, Groups and Permissions
To have access to the users, groups and permissions options window you just click on it’s tab in the settings window, from there you can add and remove users and groups to your Feng Office installation. You can also edit permissions for each user and group.
Billing and Invoicing
To have access to the billing and invoicing options window you just click on it’s tab in the settings window, from there you can add and design bills and invoices through your Feng Office installation.
In the top menu, you can access the overview module which will give you access to events, tasks, calendar, milestones, workspaces, emails and many other features.
In the top menu, you can access the tasks module which “as the name implies” will give you access to the tasks section where you can administer tasks by assigning tasks and deleting finished one. Of course you can apply filters to easily administer tasks.
In the top menu, you can access the documents module which “as the name implies” will give you access to the documents section where you can administer files that are uploaded and shared throughout your business.
In the top menu, you can access the contacts module which will give you access to the contacts section where you can administer contacts and use this section for CRM and creating leads.
In the top menu, you can access the time module which as the name implies will give you access to the time section where you can create a comprehensive time management portal for you and your employees.
In the top menu, you can access the calendar module which as the name implies will give you access to the calendar section where you can access and administer your appointments.
In the top menu, you can access the reporting module which as the name implies will give you access to the Reporting section where you can access and administer timesheets and other reports.
In the top menu, you can access the Notes module which will give you access to the Notes section where you can add and remove notes.
Finally the email module that we’ve covered above, it gives you access to your emails, it’s worth noting that the number of available modules would vary depending on your requirements and you can always add and remove modules using the system module section in the settings window.
Feng office is the second tool presented for office management as an alternative to Bitrix24, as it can be concluded from this guide that the free version of Bitrix24 offers many more options than the community free edition of Feng Office, moreover Bitrix24 is a cloud service so you don’t have to maintain it you just log to your account and start using it. The final decision is of course to you the business owner, the aim of these guides is just inform you about the available tools and give you an overview about them.
In the guides to follow, we shall cover more free tools and services that would allow small business owners better manage and grow their business through technology.