Setting up your activeCollab

 In this post I’ll try to explain how we set activeCollab and modified it according to our needs. It was a tough challenge to find the right way to use activeCollab for our company to manage team, projects and tasks.
It was 2009 when we started using aC and after 2 months of going different directions we came up what I’m going to present.

aC Installation

Installation of aC is not a big challenge and everything goes smooth according to their instructions. The only issue you can face is server problems.

Unix hosting is more preferable to use as aC is written on PHP and most likely you have Linux hosting be the one that corresponds server requirements. We had 2 people asking why some of our modules don’t work, and the problem was pdo_mysql PHP extention and JSON library for PHP 5. activeCollab doesn’t require it, but if you want your system to take all advantages of customization, make sure you have mentioned above.

Finally you have the system working with the only user – administrator. First of all, you need to think of user groups you are going to have. There are two groups of roles – System Roles and Project Roles. All system roles have priority on project roles. So if you have anything restricted in system role, and allowed in project role – it will be restricted!

In our case we thought of our company and clients. We didn’t have any specific roles for clients having different privileges in the system, so we had only one group for them. As for company members, there would be 3 roles.

Here is the complete list of System and Project Roles:

activeCollab System Roles, Project Roles

System Roles:


we won’t stop here as they have all privileges.

Client Company Manager

Client Company Manager

As you can see we didn’t grant lots of rights to our clients, though other privileges can be set up at Project roles for them. Project Management is set to no, as we don’t want clients to manage all project objects. The same is about people and company management.

We also set can_see_private_objects to No, as all private conversations and objects should be kept away from the client’s eye, as we can use Russian language to collaborate between members.

One more feature that is not provided to our customers is Status Updates module. We use this module for all our company internal needs only. If someone is going out of the office for a while (break, lunch, etc) he should put the status where he is going and when he is going to return, so we all know where any member of the company is if not in the office.

HR manager module is used only by our members to see their salary, events, and inform about birthdays, so clients don’t need to know that information.


In comparison to clients, our company members can use Status module and HR Manager Module, but they can’t add projects and manage assignment filters. Also members can see private objects, so we communicate only between members of our company even if client is assigned to a project.

Project Manager

Project Manager

Project Manager in our company is one of the key figures who manages projects, communicates with clients and can be Business Analyst to build specification requirements documents or project documentation.

Accordingly, we need to provide this role maximum functions allowed except that they can’t manage people and company details. That is set only for administrator who manages all the companies and people details.

As we are online about for 10-14 hours a day, we don’t use incoming mail module, and we don’t have clients who would use it. Maybe, when aC 3 is live, we’ll be using it, but now this feature is set to No, though module is installed.

Project Roles

Here is the most interesting part. We couldn’t set up the roles without customizations. It was pretty quick as for customizing roles for the system to work as we required.

There are 4 options to choose for each module (Project tab):

  • No Access
  • Can Access
  • and Can Create
  • and Can Manage

The problem was with Can Create and Can Manage. According to default settings, with Can Create role at tickets we can log time to other users and it wasn’t the way we wanted it to be. Also, we could close task or ticket assigned to other users, but it should have been only available for Project Managers, Project Leads and the ones responsible or assignees.

Also we made the feature to not allow users complete ticket or task without logging time – that way we’ve got rid of questions why the time is not logged in before invoicing our clients.

Below are screenshots of project roles in our system.

Company Client

Company Client

Manager (our Project Manager)

Spectator (Guest Access): sometime we provide guest access to our potential clients to demonstrate the system usage and explain how we work in collaboration with each other, so here we have all set to Has Access.

USWebStyle Member (all our development staff)

Company Member

As you can see we allow our members to manage all the pages, as we use Pages in USWebStyle  project for company internal documentation. Each member of the company can create Page to notify others about any occasion or to share experience between each other along with discussions in comments. It’s like wiki and blog at one place for us.

Each department has their own politics, for newbies to learn quickly when they are hired. After several hours of deep reading and system research there are only few questions left, before member starts working on projects.

We also try to keep system really simple for usage, so different modules either can help you or prevent all staff from effective work, so we try to keep our system balanced for our clients to use it intuitively. As for our company members, they got to know that they are not under strict control, and system usage is just a perfect tool for management and collaborative work with each other.

3 Comments to “Setting up your activeCollab”

  • nice article, keep the posts coming

  • I’ll have to go back and read all your previous posts now.

  • Great read thank you! It answered many of our questions about role management in our ActiveCollab install.