Zoho on Zoho: How we use Zoho apps to run the show at Zoholics

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Our goal for each Zoholics user event is to make it perfect for attendees – our customers who travel from all over the world to learn and make the most of Zoho apps for their business.

Making sure that everything is perfect involves coordinating so many major and minor aspects related to each event. What makes this even more challenging is the fact that most of our teams are geographically distributed and work across various time zones (more about working remotely with cross-cultural teams here.)

So, how do we do this for not just one, but four annual Zoholics events?

Here is the story of the people, processes and Zoho apps that work behind-the-scenes for each Zoholics event.

Setting the stage.

Pre-event Planning: To start with, we need to discuss and decide on the agenda for the event. Raju, who is the chief architect for all Zoholics events, initiates these discussions over Zoho Connect, our intranet where everyone watches out for important announcements and discussions.

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Basis these discussions, we use a shared Zoho Sheet (our spreadsheet app, part of the Zoho Docs office suite) to draft an agenda and assign speakers for each of the sessions.

After we have the agenda ready, we move to a dedicated Zoholics Projects’ portal for further discussions such as content, promotion, logistics and travel. Everyone who will be speaking at the event or helping organize any aspect of it is invited to join this Project portal.

Over the next few months leading up to the event, the Zoholics Project portal becomes the “virtual meeting room” where we all check in to participate in discussions about the event and to post or follow updates about the status of event-related tasks.

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What is great about using a Project portal for such discussions is that everyone can stay in the loop and get notifications over email or on the Zoho Projects’ mobile app. There are no communication gaps or operational lapses.

One of our first discussions over the Zoholics Project portal is about travel for the event. We create and share another Zoho Sheet – this one allows employees from other cities who’re traveling for the event to input their travel dates. Since the travel team is also part of the Project, they’re able to book flight tickets and hotel rooms.

Event Promotion: We also start a discussion about promoting the event through these channels – social media, email invites, banners within our products, log-out pages as well as the Zoho Buzz newsletter. Promotion-related tasks for each of these channels are assigned to the owners. Read more

Finding (e)Harmony between Candidates and Companies

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recruit_jobharmony_blog2For 14 years, eHarmony founder and CEO Neil Clark Warren has stood against a white backdrop on our television screens to discuss compatibility.

And while his white hair, suit, and glasses make him look a little more like Orville Redenbacher than a matchmaker, the proof is, well…in the wedding cake.

Since its inception in August of 2000, eHarmony has yielded 600,000 marriages with a divorce rate of only 3.8 percent – a fraction compared to the national average.

So what’s eHarmony’s next move? Matchmaking in the career space.

When eHarmony launches Elevated Careers this December, matching candidates with companies will be like finding soul mates. And like any serious relationship or marriage, Warren wants people to find companies they connect with on multiple levels. He wants candidates to find companies they will stay with for years to come. 

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Easily generate brochures, payslips, contracts and more with Zoho Creator’s Custom Record Summary function

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Recently, our facilities team was looking for a simple way to manage purchase orders. They decided to try the Custom Record Summary feature in Zoho Creator and instantly, the tedious task of generating and managing purchase orders was a thing of the past. Needless to say, they were able to retire the old time-consuming purchase order system and process. And, more importantly, now it just takes a few clicks for our facilities team to create beautiful and accurate purchase orders (Print/PDF Version).

Sample Templates created using Custom Record Summary

In case you missed it, the Custom Record Summary was recently released in Zoho Creator.  This versatile feature allows you to create nearly any type of customized template for your business. Once the template is created, Zoho Creator automatically populates the template with your data.

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Work Smart with the Resume Inbox

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Recruiters face many challenges, but none as painstaking as processing resumes. Their inbox is always cluttered with a pile of resumes from various sources including candidates, employee referrals, job boards, vendors, etc. Now if you’re a recruiter, you’ll know exactly what I mean! The best news for you would be a parsing tool that can process resumes directly from your mailbox onto the database. That’s exactly why Zoho Recruit is excited to introduce – the Resume Inbox.

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Cluttered mailboxes, hereafter, become a thing of past. The Resume Inbox can be configured in a few easy steps. Read more

Secure Cloud Storage and Document Sharing with Zoho Docs

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Gone are the days when file security meant locking the drawer to your file cabinet to protect your sensitive documents. As we all know, today, most of our documents are created and saved online – but are they more secure now than in old file cabinets? Well, with the right precautions, they certainly can be.
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Cloud storage, online document sharing, and real-time collaboration are just some of the new document management technologies that offer businesses the ability to quickly and accurately generate professional documents that can be shared with colleagues, business partners and customers. Modern cloud document management and collaboration tools have taken the speed of business to another level. Cloud or online applications in a simple sense is the ability for users to access applications and store data from anywhere, at anytime, without having to install the application on their machines. A simple to understand cloud application is Facebook. You log into Facebook, add comments to your timeline, upload photos and interact with your friends and logout. But, the data remains on Facebook long after you logout, because the application and the data resides on Facebook servers, “in the cloud”.

While the benefits and productivity gains of cloud-based document management are apparent, the question of document security may not be. But, with some simple tips and best practices, businesses and users can take advantage of these modern storage and collaboration tools with the comfort of knowing that their documents are also secure.

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The Secret of Effective Project Management

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Let me get straight to the point. The Secret of Effective Project Management is finding the right balance between managing too little and managing too much. And in order to understand how to walk this elusive middle path, let us first take a look at the extremes.

In a quest to give their team a free hand and keep things moving fast, some managers end up taking an over simplified approach. When they do this, they lose track of important aspects of work. When their team would want their guidance, they wouldn’t know it and hence would not be available to them. As a result, the team would end up heading in a different direction from the one they want to steer it in. On the other hand, other managers wanting to stay in charge make their processes too sophisticated. They fill their work places with rules, regulations and policies. A large part of the workday is spent logging what is done, getting permissions and just adhering to protocol. And all this makes the team’s progress a lot slower than what it can be.

Let us examine this phenomenon with an example. Say a manager needs to work with a team of designers to create a new website for his company. An over-simplifying manager gives the team an idea of what he wants, agrees on a deadline and disappears till then. He believes, he has given his designers a lot of freedom. But when the work is done, he realizes many things don’t fall in place. He wants to project his business as long-serving, stable and trustworthy and the heavy use of fire-engine-red and sporty fonts don’t really reinforce that.  He realizes with much despair that the site needs lots of rework and this is good news to nobody.

The manager who overdoes things, creates a detailed specs document that specifies permitted image and font sizes, graphics to text ratio, page sizes and a long list of dos and don’ts. She wants the team to log the time spent on each file they create and also send her daily reports on progress. And the team feels it would be easier to write a program that parses through these specs and dumps a matching template than create one themselves! Read more

Beyond Corporate Walls: Announcing External Networks and other New features

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We all know, organisations are made of people and processes. People play an essential role in getting things done. Every business, be it small or large have diverse goals and various internal and external stake-holders involved in the decision-making process. The business discussions and decision-making process is often complex. And the work certainly doesn’t just end with just discussions. Implementing work involves an execution plan, supervision and control to achieve the desired goal. Apart from employees, business alliances outside the company can also add value to attain this goal. And the key to successful implementation and innovation is better with collaboration involving these people too.

External Network

Cultivating External Collaboration:

Therefore, it is imperative to choose the right mode to collaborate. Understanding this transformation in the collaboration space, we’ve developed external networks. External networks are designed to enable businesses to extend collaboration capabilities to their partners, suppliers, agents, franchises or contract workers. Zoho Connect’s external networks are no different from the internal network for employees. We have made the interface consistent for both the internal and external networks. With external networks, businesses can leverage the collective knowledge and creativity of partners or vendors and arrive at smarter solutions.

Additionally, we’ve also added newer features to Zoho Connect to enhance collaboration capabilities for businesses. Chatroom, events, network analytics, AD integration are the new features.

Focused Conversations:

Zoho Connect believes in making team communication more focused and actionable. Keeping this in mind, we have added a chat room feature to groups. Chat rooms can be created within groups to hold real- time conversation on specific topics.

Time Management:

Calendars are staple in time management. Users can create events, send invites, track RSVPs of invitees. Don’t miss a single event in your company, stay up to date on upcoming events. We’ve also integrated with Eventbrite so that users can create social network for events, thereby aiding collaboration capabilities for the event.

Measuring Engagement:

It is important for community managers or network admins to understand how the users engage within the network. Network Analytics allows the admins of the network  to measure the overall health of the network, engagement at the group and company level.

Customisation:

Zoho Connect allows administrators of the network to customise the network to match the uniqueness of the company brand. The headers and footers are customisable and can be customised to reflect the look and feel of the brand.

Centralising User Access:

Most businesses leverage Microsoft’s Active Directory to centralize and to standardise user access to networks and other resources. Users can now directly login to their Zoho connect  network with their common organisation credential. It is advantageous in terms of increasing efficiency through convenience while improving access and boosting user adoption.

With the release of external networks, we’ve revamped our pricing plans too. We’ve made it simple.This new plan we believe will reduce the cost significantly to companies that work with a large pool of external users.

Simplified Licensing:

You no longer will have to pay per user for both internal or external network.  You can access most of our prime features like private groups, custom apps, document management and chat rooms in the Free plan itself. The additional features such as multiple admins, post moderation, custom domain, header and footer customisation and Active Directory sync will be under Enterprise plan priced at $49 per network.

To know more and how to use these features, join us at Zoholics: Productivity and Collaboration 2014 event at Pleasanton, California.