Just In: Resource Utilization & Editable Gantt charts

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Employees are considered the most valuable assets of an organization. The ability to deploy employees effectively against projects enables organizations to utilize and maximize employee productivity. For this, project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate employees in the right teams at the right time.

Project managers often face questions like how the work to be performed by a team is to be captured, who estimates the amount of effort required, where this information is to be stored and reviewed for accuracy etc. There are no magic shortcuts. You need the right tool that can capture and show the resources utilized within or across all projects of your organization.

The latest update of Zoho Projects offers this crucial feature called Resource Utilization chart, that accurately captures all of the above in a single place. With this chart, you can now get the most out of your valuable resources, i.e., Your Team,to accomplish critical tasks that are overdue by effectively realigning members based on their skills. You can also quickly gain insights into whether your resources are being under, over or optimally utilized in a matter of few minutes.



And…Refreshing new editable Gantt charts!


Before this update
: The Gantt chart in Zoho Projects has always been a challenge for us, since everyone used it in their own unique ways. Previously, it didn’t have enough room to capture more details about tasks. And printing the chart was a bit of a hassle when it was loaded with more data.


Here’s what we did:

We reworked the entire Gantt chart design to make it more appealing and useful for all. And of course, made it easier for printing too.

Best of all
, now you can simply drag the task bar in either direction and edit your Gantt chart. Isn’t that cool? But it doesn’t stop there. You can also export as PDF and send it across to your team.

We’ve also put together a step-by-step guide to get started – Gantt & Resource utilization.

User Access:

Resource Utilization view is accessible for portal owner, joint admins and project managers. While the editable Gantt is available for all user roles except for client users.


What editions are these features available?

Here’s the link to the latest revised Plans and Pricing.

a. Resource utilization / Edit Gantt charts are available for all Premium and Enterprise customers i.e., $299 & $599 annual plans and $35 and $80 monthly plans. It is also available for existing Valuepack 3 customers.

b. The Reports tab, which includes resource utilization and editable Gantt charts (across all projects) is available only for Enterprise customers i.e., $599 annual plan and $80 monthly plan.

Here’s short video explaining the new Gantt chart and Resource utilization features.

We hope this round of updates makes it more useful and a little easier on the eyes of everyone who uses Zoho Projects. Play around with the new reporting features available at http://www.zoho.com/projects/ and let us know your views at
support@zohoprojects.com
.

Sync Zoho CRM Contacts & Calendar with Google Apps – Take 2

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Just last Friday we announced sync between Zoho CRM’s Contacts and Calendar with Google Apps.

Many of our Zoho for Google Apps customers had been asking us for this functionality, so we knew it was going to be well received.  However, we disappointed many happy customers when we included this only in our Enterprise edition.

Lots of people commented about this in our blogs, forums and directly to us on email. They were disappointed we didn’t include it on the Professional edition of CRM. 

Google Apps customers expect our integrations to work seamlessly. And we want to have the best and most used CRM in the Google Apps Marketplace. So today we’re enabling this functionality to both Enterprise and Professional customers. If you are a Zoho CRM for Google Apps customer and have the Professional Edition, you should be able to see this functionality in just a couple hours at the most.

From now on, our approach is going to be that any Google Apps integration feature we create will be made available across all of our paid editions.  We want to differentiate our paid editions on what you can do with them (i.e. Workflow, Data Administration, Security and many other benefits) and not on the depth of the Google Apps integration.

In addition, for those customers that already upgraded to Enterprise just to get this feature, we will gladly return you to your original plan and give you a refund. So if you want to take us upon the refund, please contact us at support@zohocrm.com and we’ll take care of you.

You asked, we listened. We thank you very much for your feedback. 

Rodrigo

ps. If you like Zoho CRM for Google Apps (including the Contacts & Calendar sync part) please write a review in the Google Apps Marketplace

Zoho Creator – Zoho CRM Integration : A success story of Credible Systems

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Guest post by Mark Thurman of Credible Systems:


Credible Systems joined the


Zoho Alliance Partner Program
 2 years ago, with Zoho Creator as their main focus, and later expanded their scope to include Zoho CRM, Zoho Reports, & Zoho Projects. Founded in early 2009 by Mark Thurman and Sarah Treanor,


Credible System
 is a consultancy focused on helping organizations of all sizes and types, leverage the growing power of cloud-computing. Their clients range from schools and SME’s to much larger enterprises. Here is how Mark

sees it all:



The Client:


We were approached by a European-wide consultancy to assist them with extending the functionality of Zoho CRM. The client provides a broad range of business consultancy services to blue chip organization across Europe.

The Problem:


Their need was to effectively track the utilization of resources across their various clients and projects. Of course, a spreadsheet solution could have sufficed as a short-term solution. But we had our doubts about it being a scalable, long-term solution, keeping in mind the client’s growing operations. An external third-party solution would cause an additional problem of duplicating all data, inevitably leading to differences between the two sets.


Zoho Creator
 would be a fine solution for such a problem in any case, but its recent integration with Zoho CRM made it the perfect solution.

Zoho Creator, it seems, has something for everybody
.


The Implementation:


We created a custom database application that allows the user to import opportunity details directly from Zoho CRM, based upon certain criteria. For instance, only those with a status of “Closed Won” are brought into Zoho Creator. Using Deluge script, we then provided methods for 
  • Creating sub-projects for each opportunity 
  • Assign a unique Project ID 
  • Relate the project to specific internal business units for project work and administration 
  • Expose relevant CRM data for the selected opportunity 


And with reports generated from within Zoho Creator, they were able to



  • compare planned and actually delivered values for an opportunity against the estimated Opportunity Value in


    CRM






  • chart the utilization level for a specific resource, business unit or entire company against a threshold for a


    specific


    time period




  • create calendar views of resource


    allocation


    providing consolidated information at a glance



The Next Step:
We intend to use Zoho Creator for Google Apps, combined with


Zoho CRM’s sync with Google Contacts and Calendar
. By this, we can provide resource utilization calendars within Google Apps, for the data residing in Zoho CRM.

When an Activity is created, we can provide a function to ‘write’ the Activity details to Zoho CRM as an ‘Event’.
  • Create custom calendar views in Zoho CRM for ‘All Events’ and ‘My Events’ 
  • Set up CRM calendar sync with Google Apps calendars 
  • Then ‘All Events’ and ‘My Events’ CRM calendars will be visible on Google Calendar too.
Resource planning using Zoho Creator has allowed them to see how much resource is currently planned against each project, and how much they can possibly expand, thus enabling them to manage available resources effectively.

Sync Zoho CRM Contacts & Calendar with Google Apps

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Zoho CRM for Google Apps has certainly been a winner in the Google Apps Marketplace, and our customers love us for this! But, we always felt there was something missing. Today, we’re addressing that missing bit, with…

yes, you guessed it right – You can now synchronize both your Contacts and Calendar between Zoho CRM and Google Apps!

Google Contacts Sync

As a Google Apps user, managing your contacts data is a lot more easiernow. And how is that? You can work on a single version of the data in both Zoho CRM and Google. No more duplicate entries and you can also schedule your sync frequency. So, in case you want your contacts to be synchronized on a weekly basis, all you have to do is: select the type of sync as “Between Zoho CRM and Google (two-way)” and set the frequency to “Weekly”. Bam! You’re done!


Well, what will happen if there is a conflict while syncing you may ask? Simple. You get to choose which data should take precedence – Zoho CRM Vs Google Apps. More power to you!

So…what happens if you want to periodically push contacts only from Google Apps to Zoho CRM or vice versa? No problems, we give you those options too!

Google Calendar Sync

Now how does the synchronization of calendar work? The options are very similar to the Contacts Synchronization and here you get to sync events between your Zoho CRM and Google Calendars on a periodic basis.

Think of it this way. There’s a business contact of yours who has requested for a product demo the Monday after next. You quickly add this detail to your Google Calendar. The synchronization of this event between your Google Apps and Zoho CRM is taken care of in the background…based on your settings, of course. You also get the option to add reminders from your Google Calendar to Zoho CRM.

These features are available to all Google Apps Users using the Zoho CRM – Enterprise Edition.

So go ahead, collaborate and communicate better with your customers using Zoho CRM for Google Apps.

And don’t forget to share feedback about your experience: Facebook /  Twitter /  Linkedin.

– Sharanya

Zoho Mail is now optimized for iPad

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Apart from launching native apps for Android and iPhone, we are continuing to improve our web applications optimized for mobile devices. Our mobile web app http://m.zoho.com has been optimized to work on most of the smart phones. It currently has Zoho Mail, Calendar, Documents, Creator, CRM & Invoice optimized for the phone form factor.

Today we are excited to announce the iPad optimized interface for Zoho Mail. Our iPad optimized version can be accessed from http://m.zoho.com. If you want to try this from your desktop, use http://t.zoho.com. Once you login, you can navigate to Zoho Mail app by tapping on the Mail icon. Other apps listed in the home screen will currently direct you to the phone optimized version of the interface. We do have plans to optimize other apps for the iPad as well as other tablets.

The iPad optimized version of Zoho Mail works in both portrait and landscape modes. You’ll find all the key features with in the app including navigating to folder, labels, views etc. You can also access multiple mail accounts, if you have them configured.

We also experimented a little bit with a good range of themes for this iPad interface. If you want some change to the way your mail interface looks, you might want to give one of our themes a try.

This update also greatly improves the phone version. While you’ll see some changes in the user interface, we put in lot of work behind the scenes to speed up the app. I am sure you’ll notice the difference.  

You’ll notice two parallel approaches to our mobile strategy. 1) Optimizing our apps for mobile devices and 2) Offering native apps. We will continue offering both options moving forward. Meanwhile, we’d like to hear your feedback on this new iPad optimized version of Zoho Mail.

PS: If you prefer using Zoho Mail on the iPad Mail app, follow these instructions.

Zoho Loves Android: Announcing our first Android App (for Zoho Invoice!)

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It’s been almost a year since we released our very first native mobile app, Zoho Docs for iPhone. We’ve continued to make progress providing easy access to the Zoho apps when using mobile devices both with native and mobile web apps. But so far we had limited ourselves to iPhone apps. Android’s rapid ascension in the market has not gone unnoticed and, in fact, an Android app has been the most request feature in Zoho Invoice for some time now. So today we’re happy to cross one big item of our list with our very first Android app for Zoho Invoice.Zoho Invoice for Android is a mobile app that allows you to easily create, send and access invoices, estimates and expenses wherever you are, right from your mobile phone.

For example, you can instantly view details about your customers, including contacts, notes and any amount they might owe you. You can as well access and edit the items (i.e. those things that you sell) as well as their price and any associated taxes. Handy when you’re on the go and a customer just asked you for a custom project.Create and send invoices and estimates with just a few taps on the screen: select terms, due date, items being invoice and voilá… your invoice has been created. A couple taps more and you can send it via email to your customer right after finishing your meeting. Not only you get a nicely formatted preview of your invoice on your phone, but it goes out as a PDF, using the professional-looking template you have configured in your account.

Zoho Invoice for Android also allows you to manage travel and other expenses. This is particularly convenient when you are working on a project for a client and the expenses are billable. Enter those expenses on the app as they happen, and they will be included in the next invoice you send to the customer.

Zoho Invoice for Android is available starting today at the Android Market. The App is free, and you can use it with any of the Zoho Invoice plans (including the free one!). Isn’t life good?

Make customers happy, look professional and get paid fast with Zoho Invoice – right from your mobile phone.

Rodrigo

ps. Last week we announced the Zoho CRM App for iPhone, we got many comments from people requesting an Android app. We heard you loud and clear. Bear with us and stay tuned!

Won a Big Deal? Trigger a Thank You Mail to your Customer from Zoho CRM

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To keep your customers happy, you need to connect with them better. And with the latest updates that we have made to Workflow Rules, we give you better ways to strengthen your customer relationships.

Move on to the “Actions” section in the Workflow Rule creation page and check out the “Recipients” field. You can now select email fields in related modules too!

Wondering how this can be helpful? Take this case: You win a deal, and you want to send a thank you mail to your Customer, instantly. With the earlier updates that we made to Workflow Rules, this would not have been possible. But now, with the ability to select email fields in related modules, all you have to do is: Create a Workflow Rule for the Potentials module and select the email fields in the Contacts module. Simple? The rule triggers your email as soon as you win the deal.

You can also send friendly payment reminders to customers a couple of days before the payment due date.

With the new updated Workflow Rules, you have more options for automation of your business processes, better customer relationships and you also save a lot of time.

That’s not the only update. It is also possible to filter your Workflow rules based on the module and by status too! So if you want to review all the Active rules that you have for the Leads module, it’s much more simpler now. No more searching.

Wait, there’s one more. The Due Date field in Workflow Tasks now supports Date-Time fields also.

All these updates are available only in the Enterprise Edition. And there’s no extra cost!

Together with the earlier updates, we believe these additions will be useful to you. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you think.