Unified Business Management using Zoho

Despite having friends who can get me all the latest business management solutions in unbelievable volume licensing prices, I have decided to keep all my operations in the cloud. It’s only logical for anyone to invest in the future rather than outdated, cumbersome software that is often disconnected from the Internet.

Cloud apps are maturing fast and so are their abilities to run entire businesses from one online destination instead of many. Apps like WORKetc, offer umbrella business management solutions. Zoho ups the ante in the business management suite arena with 22 apps, all accessible from a unified dashboard.

Overview

Zoho is a comprehensive suite of cloud based business, productivity & collaboration applications. Zoho’s web applications can be used to run business processes, manage information, communication & collaboration and be more productive while at the office or on the go.

From CRM to email, Office Suite, Project Management, Invoicing, Human Resource management, Web conferencing and more, Zoho has launched 22 online applications to date. Impressive, isn’t it!

Overview

Overview

Signing up for an all access Zoho account is extremely and they also support seamless login access via your existing Google, Google Apps, Yahoo and Facebook accounts.

Pricing

Pricing

Pricing

Zoho offers all of its apps free of cost for personal use. In case apps like CRM, they offer free access to upto five users and the rest of the apps offer free access too. For corporate and business users, Zoho apps come in affordable and tiered pricing plans mostly determined by the number of users.

Dashboard

After signing up in three easy steps using my Google Apps account I had the option to start using any one of the apps right away or access the unified business console for an integrated view of all my applications.

Choice of Account Type

Choice of Account Type

Once I chose to view the unified console, I was asked to choose if I using the account for business or personal use. Only business users can use their own domain and all personal users are assigned a zoho.com email address.

Unified Console

Unified Console

The unified console opens to an email inbox. On the far left corner we have a list of all the apps available in the Zoho ecosystem and can be accessed instantly in a single click.

Documents

Zoho Writer is the word processor of the Zoho suite and has a tabbed interface like a web browser. Commonly used features like formatting, inserting objects, review, mailings etc. are readily available. Documents can be shared with individuals or multiple persons via Zoho groups.

Zoho Writer

Zoho Writer

With multiple sheets and the ability to support formulae, tables, charts, run macros Zoho Spreadsheet is as simple as using Microsoft Excel.

Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet

Wiki is an app whose power is untapped by small businesses and corporates alike. It is also an app that most other Zoho rivals do not offer as a part of the package. Zoho not only allows us to create a Wiki but also select a colorful template from a great selection.

Wiki

Wiki

CRM

Zoho CRM is the hosted version of the popular open source vTiger CRM and is matched feature by feature. It took sometime for the CRM account to set up but is extremely snappy to use. Leads, opportunities & tickets can be created, tracked and assigned to users. Marketing campaigns can be launched and custom reports can be pulled from Zoho CRM as well.

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM

Project Management

Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects

Project management at Zoho begins with the creation of a project portal with a lengthy URL. Free users can create and manage 1 project that cannot exceed 10MB of storage space. Zoho Projects has a Twitter like status update system to communicate with the team.

Just like any other modern project management app, we can create tasks, milestones, schedule them, track the time sheet, schedule meetings and generate reports. Zoho has a fantastic mail in feature, where users can email status updates, add tasks, upload files etc. just by emailing to preset aliases.

Final Thoughts

Zoho is a super market of online business solution apps. Whatever tool that is needed to run a business can be found here and in the rare case you could not find one niche app, rest assured, the Zoho team is probably working on it to be introduced at the earliest. Unlike it’s competitors, Zoho has more features than Google Docs and is extremely economical when compared to Salesforce.

However, in my own experience when I was exploring hosted CRM solutions last year, despite their promise to offer the same full featured app that paid users get, I found some key features missing. If that’s just a one off shortcoming & not a sneaky tactic, Zoho is the best business management suite for those who want to escape the clutches of clunky software and crazy licensing terms.


Summary

Zoho offers a suite of online web applications geared towards increasing your productivity and offering easy collaboration. Zoho's online office tools include a word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation tool, hosted wiki, notebook, CRM etc.

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