Ever dreamed about having your own Facebook-style social network for the workplace? Bitrix24 is exactly that and a lot more: a private social network where you and your colleagues, co-workers, and collaborators can communicate (share and comment on work related posts), create projects, share a calendar of events, and assign and share tasks.
But more than that, Bitrix24 also wants to be a platform where you can manage every aspect of your business or project, from ‘Customer Relationship Management’ (CRM) to workflow and business processes, and can provide an instant structure to any organization whether it is starting out or established.
Although the recent change from a maximum of 12 users to unlimited users for the free version is a great decision on their part, there still is a caveat: only a maximum of 12 users have access to the “business tools”. Unlimited users can still join and use the social intranet though (i.e. the Facebook style activity stream).
While we do not claim to be expert users of Bitrix24, here is a quick overview of some of it’s more interesting features:
- Gives you our very own URL: for the workplace intranet, typically: yourbusinessname.bitrix24.com
- Social Intranet: Facebook style activity stream, with social media functions such as likes, comments, badges, etc. Imagine a colleague posting something like “Perhaps we should focus on Project Y rather than Project X, or something, and then amassing an unexpected number of likes or having a department or company wide discussion start about this in the comments underneath, etc.
- Polls: this piqued my interest. The platform provides any user the ability to create instant, company wide polls to collect info from employees and collaborations. How great is that?
- Subdivide by workgroup: you can organize users into workgroups, such that users can jump from the top level, general activity stream/tasks/calendar etc. for example down into their own activity stream etc. Which is to say each workgroup can have their own version of the platform running for their subgroup.
- Provide a secure chat and call platform: not just with other users but with external customer. Chat logs are saved for future reference if needed. You could also initiate and RECORD calls from the platform, although it seems that you have to buy call minutes. You also get a max of 100 monthly recorded calls for the free version but can purchase more.
- Tasks: provides a sophisticated task manager with the ability to assign to others and for setting due dates, etc. Users can enter date started and date completed, and all tasks can be displayed visually via Gannt charts, if that is something you seek. The paid version of Bitrix24 promises more ‘advanced features’.
- Events and Calendar: gives you a bird’s eye view of what all calendar events for yourself and others (or for your particular workgroup etc.) View by month, week, or day.
- Mail integration: if you like, you can integrate your company email or webmail account into Bitrix, such that your email activity can be seamlessly managed from within the platform itself (e.g. to scheduling events, tasks from your email etc.)
- CRM: this is actually much more sophisticated than I expected. For sales personnel (or other users who need it), the CRM module allows you to enter leads and prospects into the system, assign status (in progress, on hold, waiting, etc.), and enter all manner of information, including potential product or products of interest, etc. It can then provide both structure for managing prospects as well as analytics and data visualization for your conversion rates, comparison to other employees, and a whole bunch of other eye candy.
- Mobile and desktop apps: Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop apps integrate Bitrix24 with your desktop, and Android and iOS apps mean that you are constantly connected and interacting with the platform.
- Apps and plugin Architecture: want to integrate other platforms with Bitrix24 (e.g. Mailchimp, Basecamp, Roistat)? Chances are there’s app that can do it for you. In theory the app marketplace can contain both Free and Paid plugins, but as of this writing all 29 apps listed in the marketplace are free.
- Workflow: this section allows you to run business processes, such as running reports or submitting HR type requests. There are five built in pre-defined process: Leave approval, Business Trip, General Requests, Purchase Request, and Expense report. It also provides a simple structure to create your own custom processes.
- My drive: shared cloud storage similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. The free version provides a max of 5 gigs storage.
Bitrix24 is an ambitious platform that is more than just a Facebook style activity stream fro your business. Started in 2012, the platform is now four years old and the depth and sophistication that they managed to build into it is nothing short of impressive. Bitrix24 wants to do it all: project collaboration, company-wide communication, workflow management, CRM, social networking, etc.
For a small company or project just starting out, Bitrix24 can provide invaluable structure and a place to collect, share, and communicate the activity of all users. In the free version, access by 12 users to all tools and unlimited users to the social internet may be more than enough (if your organization grows beyond 12 people, then count yourself very lucky and think about upgrading.
Note that you can use this platform for all sorts of groups and organizations, so be creative. For example, to create a social intranet for your family, where you can keep track of your kids’ tasks and activities, etc.
But our one-week long experience with Bitrix24 is not enough to sufficiently evaluate the platform, and this is more of an overview than a review. If you’ve used it please share what you liked or didn’t like about it in the comments section below.
Go the Bitrix24 website to sign up.