If you’re like many small business owners, you started your business because you are passionate about what you do, rather than passionate about the nuts and bolts of running a company. Those business management chores (such as bookkeeping, purchasing, invoicing and payment processing, recruiting, payroll, office cleaning, filing, etc.) are the price you pay to ensure that your dream business succeeds. And while outsourcing them all or purchasing software that automates most of them is tempting, it can often be cost prohibitive.
That’s why one of the goals of this Small Business Tip column is to let you know about free software that can help you more easily tackle the drudgery of managing your business so that you can devote more time to focusing on the part of it you love—be that designing new products, perfecting customer service, or promoting your vision in the marketplace.
The Sentrifugo Human Resource Management System is one such program. Created by software developer Sapplica, Sentrifugo is an open-source application that is installed on your webserver and then accessed by your employees. The free software is offered under a GNU General Public License, and it appears to be updated regularly.
Sentrifugo includes a wide selection of modules including standard employee management features (profiles, time sheets, project assignments, stored documents, contact information, vacation/time off management, performance reviews, and more), recruiting and onboarding features (position requisitions, resume storage, interview scheduling, candidate ranking, and background checks), sending notices to all employees, and an analytics suite that provides a variety of reporting options and dashboard widgets.
The configuration wizard can be used to enable only those components your business requires; so it can grow with your business and as your HR management needs change. It can also be configured for several different user levels, with the Super Admin having full access to everything, the HR manager having access to limited system configuration and full access to everything else, and employees having access limited to their own information and general company information.
The best way to get a feel for what Sentrifugo can do for your company is to access the demo here. Select a User ID/Password from the list (which includes a User for each role) and login. You can then view and work with all the configuration and user screens, though you will not be able to actually save anything. (Note: If you start on a configuration screen, click the “back to site” button in the top-right corner of the screen to exit configuration and access the application.)
There are a number of help resources designed to enable you to get up and running quickly, but they can be hard to find. View the installation guide here and the FAQ that helps with installation issues, get the User Guide here, and look for “Help” links throughout the application that provide detailed information on specific functions such as importing your employee list and using performance appraisals. The Blog provides product announcements and tutorials, and you can submit a ticket for assistance in the Support Center. (There is also a Forum that requires a User ID and Password to enter.)
Sentrifugo is supported under Windows (using an XAMPP Windows stack with Apache, MySQL and PHP installed), Mac (using a MAMP stack with Apache, MySQL and PHP installed), and Linux (using an XAMPP Linux 1.6 stack with Apache, MySQL and PHP installed). If you don’t have your own mail servers, you can configure it to work with Gmail or Yahoo mail servers. You will need access to your web server to install it, but it includes a configuration wizard that will walk you through set-up, so advanced programming knowledge isn’t required (though a basic knowledge of PHP and MySQL is recommended).
Sentrifugo may be exactly what you need to make managing HR for your small business just a bit easier and just a bit better for both you and your team. Devote some time to exploring the demo today, and if it looks promising download and install the application. You can’t beat free; and worst-case you can easily uninstall if it turns out not to meet your needs.