Task management in collectives/hubs? (Austrian initiative)

Hi community!

Me, together with some fellow people from Austria, are forming an initiative for better open-source software solutions for food coops/hubs. We don’t use OFN (yet), as Foodsoft and FoodCoopShop have been established as ordering softwares here. That’s also why we aren’t very active in this community.

Our first priority is to improve task management in food coops.
Some key features we’re thinking of:

  • Defining recurring workflows consisting of related subtasks
    e.g. a weekly collective order from a certain supplier, from updating products to settling the invoice
  • Which roles are to be filled for the respective subtasks and which abilities/equipment are required?
  • Automated assignment of subtasks to qualified members of the group, based on a mixture of round robin (rotation) and “who has actually done the least amount of (these) jobs in relation to their respective membership duration?”
    • instead of simply counting the amounts of jobs done, you could also track time or use some other metric for effort
  • Assignment notifications, reminders, and check-ups
  • Swapping assigned tasks between members
  • Membership breaks / absences (“don’t assign me then”)
  • Workflow recurrance rules like every two weeks, last Friday every month etc.
  • Relations between subtasks:
    • Which other subtasks have to be completed for certain subtask?
    • Time spacing between subtasks (like: a collective order should be open for at least 4 days for people to place their orders, so the task “opening the collective order” is due 4 days before (relative to) the deadline the supplier requests for a certain delivery day)
  • Which subtasks have been done, with what result, etc.

Since this is a functionality not only concerning food coops, but all kinds of collectives/organizations, we’re following a modular approach. We’re in touch with the developers of Collectivo, a modular community platform software which has been in development in Austria since 2022. I’ll open a separate topic for this.

I’m currently unsure if we should build upon an open source kanban tool like Wekan or start building a new tool/module from scratch.

I’d like to know if any of you know of

  • how task management is done in food coops around the world (is software even used at all?)
  • existing software solutions (preferably open-source)
  • current initiatives which try to build/find better solutions.

Hi @Leo239

I guess it depends on the definition of food coops, but also on who is doing the task.

In FR, “supermarket” food coops size often rely on ERP solutions like Odoo, which includes task management modules. These task management module can be used for the coop employees / core team members.
For volunteer or coop members management, they have created custom modules within Odoo. This article is a bit old but gives a good summary of the type of food coop I’m talking about:

Medium sized food coops are using wekan or alternatives for team members. For volunteer management, the framasoft suite offers a variety of tools that can be tweaked for task management: Framasoft
Framasoft is well-known in FR, but I’ve seen the google suite used in same way across Europe.

Custom volunteer management system do also exist in CSA softwares like OpenOlitor or Clic’AMAP (but for this one the repository is in french only).

But maybe a CSA has already a smaller size than food coops you are looking solutions for?

Hi Rachel, thanks for your reply!

Most Austrian food coops have from 10 up to 120 members, so small to medium sized, I guess.

Do you know if those modules are built upon the open-source community version of Odoo or the commercial version? Since the current community version doesn’t include accounting anymore, I wonder how sensible it would be to build upon it. Also, it’s a monolithic software …

I found a shift module, it would be interesting what it can do, but from the description, it doesn’t sound as sophisticated as the features I described in my previous post. :thinking:

Interesting suite. The tools seem rather basic, though.

I looked at OpenOlitor, it has a very rudimentary task feature, similar to the task feature in Foodsoft.

A bit more background:

In our coop, “volunteering” for weekly tasks (i.e., having to actively assign oneself to a task, as the Foodsoft task feature requires) resulted in always the same few people doing them, and sometimes noone doing them – although it was our policy that every member should do them from time to time.
That’s why we’ve implemented a system consisting of an EtherCalc and a python script (task-rotation) which automatically assigns members to recurring tasks and notifies them. They can swap tasks or look for a replacement, but it’s clear who’s responsible. This has worked quite well for a few years now, but the EtherCalc has its limits and is very mobile-unfriendly, so we’re looking for a better solution.