New In Zoho CRM: QuickBooks and Telephony Integrations

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Here are two brand-new integrations that make customer relationship management with Zoho CRM a lot simpler: Zoho CRM’s Telephony integration and the integration with QuickBooks. These two integrations have been top of our list when it comes to new feature requests from customers. So, here goes.


Zoho CRM for QuickBooks

Zoho CRM for Quickbooks will help you keep information in both

Zoho CRM
and your QuickBooks accounting system in sync.

Many of our Customers were helpful in testing this and giving us feedback. Based on their feedback, here’s what we have got for you in this update – it is now possible to integrate both Customer and Inventory data with your QuickBooks system.

What are the implications of using this feature? No more dual entry, complete visibility of customers and you can focus better on your sales cycle, from lead nurture to the close of a sales deal. This means that your Sales and Accounting departments can have a single version of customer data, even when they continue to work independently.

Here are some of the highlights of this integration. Zoho CRM for QuickBooks supports the Contacts, Vendors, Products, Quotes, Invoices and the Sales Orders modules in Zoho CRM and is available for the Premier and Simple Start offline Editions of QuickBooks. We also give you the flexibility to schedule your data transfer between Zoho CRM and QuickBooks at your convenience. That’s not all. You can avoid data entry conflicts between Zoho CRM and QuickBooks by setting your priority and also map any custom fields that you have created.

As a Professional and an Enterprise Edition customer of

Zoho CRM
, you can try this integration at a cost of $25/Month, per Organization. So, all QuickBooks users,

learn more
about this feature and give it a try!


Zoho PhoneBridge: Zoho CRM’s Telephony Integration

As the name suggests, PhoneBridge connects your telephone system(PBX) with Zoho CRM and allows you to interact with your CRM account during all your customer interactions through inbound and outbound calls.

Consider the case of a Call Center. Cold calling, telemarketing calls, telesales calls, customer care, customer support -  these are the typical operations of call centers. Now, how would it be to leverage the data from your CRM System during a call? Zoho PhoneBridge is the answer!

Here’s how you can make your outgoing and incoming call operations simpler with Zoho PhoneBridge:

Make outgoing calls with a single mouse click from the Leads, Contacts and the Accounts modules. All you have to do is to click on the telephone icon next to the telephone number in the record details page. For incoming calls, you have the key details of the call displayed as a screen pop-up (provided you have logged into your account). You can also capture all details of a call with the ‘log the call’ feature, instantly and simultaneously during the call. Logging a call inside Zoho CRM

has plenty of benefits
.

So, how does this work? It’s simple. As an administrator, you can configure PhoneBridge for your Zoho CRM account by entering a few details, such as users, their telephone extension numbers and dial codes for your outgoing calls. You can then install the adapter for your PBX system and you are done.

At present, we support Avaya, Elastix, Asterisk and Trixbox. And if your company has multiple contact centers that are geographically distributed, you can operate them as separate entities by creating a separate PhoneBridge group for each of them.


Learn more about this integration and give it a try. A 15-day Trial version is available in all editions of Zoho CRM and it is priced at $6 per user, per month. If you’re interested in this, and have a PBX system that we don’t support, please don’t hesitate to let us know at support@zohocrm.com.

How do these latest features work for you and what more would you like to see in Zoho CRM? Please write to us,and let us know. Or drop us a comment right here.

Zoho@Zoho: How our resellers access Zoho CRM contacts via Zoho Creator App

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Line-of-Business

applications (LOB) is much talked about nowadays in the corporate
world. LOB apps are a series of indispensable applications that are capable of
being smoothly interlaced with each other.
This is where Zoho Creator come
into adding value to your business; Even change the way you run
business, perhaps. Zoho Creator is an online database platform to build situational
applications that can work seamlessly alongside these LOB apps, Zoho CRM for instance. These are apps that bridge
gaps
because a fully functional generic application might not cater to
your minor, but not-negligible requirements. Here is one such instance
which we encountered.

We have resellers in quite many countries, and it is they who help customers in their locality to get the most out of Zoho. We chose Zoho Creator to come up with this reseller portal. But this application needed contact information from Zoho CRM. Hence we employed schedulers to do the job.
Remember us having talked about

task schedulers

some time back; The what-to-do and when-to-do stuff? This application might prove to be the kind we had in mind. As a very pleasant outcome, we have got ourselves this application that is capable of importing contacts daily from our Zoho CRM account. Automatically. Seamlessly.

We designed it to fetch all the contacts for the day, and scheduled it to do so at 12 pm everyday. It accounts to 200 a time because the return limit for the API request is 200. Once the synchronization of contacts between the two services is in place, distribution of relevant data is child’s play. Access to details of clients in their locality alone is granted to the resellers, and that too, on a dedicated view. This application has redundant information, already available on Zoho CRM, but with a purpose. It is to avoid modification of data on CRM. Whenever a reseller closes a ticket, ie., generates a lead out of a contact, it stays on Zoho Creator for verification. This ensures the integrity of the original information stored on Zoho CRM; Not being altered at any cost.
Well, that’s all about this application, I suppose.

Try this application

too, as you’ve tried the previous ones. If you have built anything of this sort that busts myths about Zoho Creator’s capabilities, write to us. It might throw more light on how custom, online application building can get, and how Zoho Creator is pioneering.

Apps showcased till now:

Rebranding ManagementHall of ShameTweet Stream,  Ad TrackerReseller PortalDownload TrackerIT Asset ManagementSupport Call TrackerNew Employee RecordTravel ManagementCourier ManagementCab Booking



Appreciation from Zoho Reports Customers

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Some of the usage scenarios and testimonials from Zoho Reports customers below.

-


Eurail.Com

– – Based in the Netherlands with fulfillment centers operating from the
USA and the UK, Eurail.Com sells Eurail train passes online to travelers
from all over the world. The company uses Zoho Reports to provide quick,
easy and centralized data access for its sales and marketing team; to
improve its sales forecasts and reporting accuracy; and to increase
employee productivity by reducing manual tasks. “We now have very
detailed insight into our daily sales figures without any manual
operations,” said Jeroen de Bruin, marketing and sales manager for
Eurail.Com.

-


Impact
Solutions


This company helps teachers spend more time
inspiring students and less time keeping records. The flagship product,
Impact, uses Zoho Reports to give teachers, administrators and staff
real-time access to accurate and current information about student
performance, attendance and character. And the Zoho Reports price
structure makes Impact affordable for small schools as well as large.
“In some ways, the schools wouldn’t be doing this tracking and analysis
if not for Zoho Reports. It lets us deliver a system that’s powerful yet
simple and cost effective,” said Jesse Olsen, founder of Impact
Solutions.

-

Interchem (Chemist Wholesale) Limited –

A pharmaceutical
wholesaler, Interchem Limited uses Zoho Reports to compare prices for
both vendor procurement and retail sales. The company automatically
uploads data from Microsoft SQL Server into Zoho Reports on an hourly
basis to make decisions in near real time, with the option of using the
Zoho Reports API for real-time data analysis. “Zoho Reports has helped
our business reach the next level. It’s so easy to use – no coding
required – but is nevertheless more powerful than many other products on
the market. I would recommend it to anyone looking to procure a business
intelligence solution on a shoestring budget,” said Shaheed Fazal,
director at Interchem


(Chemist Wholesale) Limited.

-


CH2M
HILL
– A global full-service engineering, procurement,
construction and operations firm, CH2M HILL uses Zoho Reports to track
project data and reports. The Zoho solution provides a reporting
database in which everyone can access current information and reports,
but only one person controls them. “Previously, we had people tracking
data and reports with Excel spreadsheets and passing them around, and we
lost control of data and reporting. Now, we are again using the data and
reports with confidence,” said John Kubenka, CMMS administrator for CH2M
HILL.

More testimonials here. And our press release on the same subject.

If you are looking to create and share reports of your business data (be it sales, marketing, finance, HR etc), do try Zoho Reports now. Also, sign up for our FREE 3-day Consultation Program where we help you get your data into Zoho Reports and create your first reports and dashboards.

Humor on the cloud: Snowmen

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Speaking of snow, here’s a recent tweet from Zoho user, Dave Holowiski:

      Thanks to Zoho Assist I fixed my customer from my toasty warm home, instead of having to drive an hour in the snow! Woohoo!


If you’d like to share any experiences of how Zoho helped you when you were snowed in, please drop us a comment here. We’d love to hear them!

Cloud Computing Assignments for B-School Students

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What’s common to B-school students of Vinod Gupta School of Management (VGSoM), IIT Kharagpur and those in Lundquist College of Business (LCB), University of Oregon? Well, both have professors who are not only well-versed in the latest web technologies but also involve their students hands-on with these technologies.




1. VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur



We have featured Professor Prithwis Mukerjee of VGSoM before as a Zoho power user. Prof Mukerjee continues to getting himself accustomed to the latest tech trends. He uses

Facebook’s discussion board
to full effect in communicating with his students. One of his latest assignments to his students – make a short movie and upload to YouTube or create a mini ERP system in Zoho Creator. His problem statement for the Order-to-Cash ERP app:

The Order-to-Cash process begins with the arrival ( and recording ) of
an order for a specified product from an approved customer. The order
can ONLY be accepted if a sufficient inventory exists of the product.
After the order is accepted, it is fulfilled at some point of time when
an invoice has to be generated. Generation of the invoice also creates a
Accounts Receivable entry and sets the order status to delivered.
Subsequently a payment is received, the invoice is marked paid, the AR
entry is marked paid and credit entry is made in the cash ledger.

11 student groups made the Zoho Creator app and I was honored when the Professor asked me to judge the apps made by his students and award them marks :) The related

discussion thread
in Facebook.
Prof. Mukerjee blogged about it too.


2. LCB, Univ of Oregon



Associate Professor of Decision Sciences, Michael Pangburn, teaches Business Information Systems (DSC340) at LCB, UofO. And he not only uses

his blog
to communicate with his students but also makes each of his students create one – their blog roll. His

notes page
for the course DSC340. And one of his

home work
assignments to his students:

Assignment Description

  • Download a copy of

    this Excel file
    .
    This “Presidents.xls” spreadsheet file contains 4 database tables: (i)
    president (a list of presidents), (ii) party (a list of parties), (iii)
    state (a list of states), and (iv) priorPosition (a list of prior
    positions that presidents have held).
  • Go to

    http://db.zoho.com
    , a free
    online database service, and login (either create a new account or login
    using the Google, Facebook, or Yahoo! login options).  Create a new
    (initially blank) database and then your

    1st database task

    is to use the “Import .XLS” feature to

    import, one at a time, each of the four worksheets

    within the Presidents.xls workbook–each worksheet will become a distinct table in your database.
  • After the importing of those four tables, your

    2nd task

    with the database is to create a 5th table to capture the Many-to-Many
    relationship between the two tables you imported that correspond to the
    two worksheets: ‘president’ and ‘priorPositions.’  To create a table,
    click the

    New–>New Table

    drop-down menu option and create
    the new table using “Design View.”  In design view, you simply type in
    the column names you want; double-click on the default data type to
    change it. 

    You need to figure out what columns should be in this table that should connect presidents to positions.

    Save the table with the name ‘PresPositions’ and then add 3-4 rows of

    true data

    (use Wikipedia or other information source) to this table, connecting a few presidents to their

    actual past positions

    .  After adding your data, be sure to

    click the Save button

    to save the data.
  • After creating the Many-to-Many bridge table, your

    3rd task

    with the database is to

    write the following query



    Show presidents’ first and last names, their political party name, birth state name, and their prior position title(s).

    This requires that you join the 5 tables in the database, so you need
    to specify the 4 joining conditions that connect those tables to each
    other. 

    The query results will only show those presidents for
    whom you provided past-positions data in the 2nd step above, which is
    expected (and it’s fine).

    Note: to access the SQL interface in Zoho, click the

    New–>New Query Table

    drop-down menu option.

It was nice to see him use Zoho Reports for teaching SQL query functions and joining of two tables. I mailed him thanking him for using Zoho and he promptly replied back asking a couple of questions about entering data and embedding options in Zoho Reports.

Great to see Zoho and other current technologies being used in classrooms. If you are a student or instructor using such technologies in your courses, please do share your views in the comments.

Zoho@Zoho: Managing and Tracking downloads with Zoho Creator

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What makes our organizational culture so wonderful is that each one of us is self-driven. Everyone is treated as an adult, and there is no need for micromanagement. This leverage is deeply integrated into whatever venture we take up, unlike the defined, enforced atmosphere that collapses almost all the time.These aspects are clearly reflected in our internet usage policy wherein except for some high bandwidth consuming and overly distracting domains, all other sites are freely accessible. No one is questioned for spending time on

Facebook
instead of coding their way to the end of the day. As long as the work gets done; As long as it gets done on time; As long as quality of work done is not compromised, employees are free to spend their time browsing the internet. The only concern we had with this policy was managing downloads so as to ensure the network bandwidth was utilized efficiently.So, here’s what we did:

We decided to host a server exclusively for internal use. All downloads that might prove worthy, such as Java plug-ins, browsers, flash players, media players, dictionaries were added to the download server for everyone to access, instead of downloading them from the web every time. This model was designed on the basis of download trends and history, and all downloads were classified, broadly into three categories: Executable files, media files and documents.
Of the three, documents are the least vulnerable as they are mostly text files and comparatively lighter. Downloads of this nature can therefore be allowed at any time and there’s no compromise on the speed of connectivity. The second category, media files are more worrisome since they can be either audio or video and are usually quite heavy. Downloading of media files would therefore have to be restricted to office after-hours.Coming back to the first and most important type, executable files and installable software require immediate attention as they may be urgently required. Also, they  have an additional risk of license-related legal issues. This is where we deployed an application in

Zoho Creator
: The Download Tracker.


Other applications that came close were either costly, or refused to be customized.
Whenever a request for a software download is made by an employee, it is first checked for availability on our download server, because if anyone else has already downloaded it, it would be present on the internal server. In such cases, the Download Tracker Application displays the local URL for downloading  the software from the internal server instead of the web,  and thus prevents futile bandwidth spending.But if it is the first time this software is being requested, then a completely different process is followed.
The employee is requested to fill the form containing a description of the software, link to the source website and specify the reason for download. As in case of the

IT Asset Request application
, this request too requires the approval of the immediate superior, mostly the manager and a notification email is generated accordingly. The end-user license agreement is then studied and approved by the legal team. Once the software is approved for download by the legal team, Sysadmin team checks the source domain for authenticity. When the request clears all these checks, the software in demand is downloaded from the web, uploaded in the internal Downloads Server and a local URL is generated. All this is taken care of by the Sysadmin team. Availability of the requested software is then notified to the requester and the manager, via an email that goes out automatically once the checks are complete.

My maiden venture into screen-casting should presumably sum-up the happenings during a download:

What’s the need for a Zoho Creator application, you might ask. We could not find a ready-made software solution to suit our uniquely flexible internet usage policies. The ones that came close were either too costly or didn’t allow customization. That’s why we thought it was best to build the most appropriate software ourselves and turning-to-Zoho-Creator has been the most revolutionary part of the story. Try it.

Apps showcased till now:

Rebranding ManagementHall of ShameTweet Stream,  Ad TrackerReseller PortalDownload TrackerIT Asset ManagementSupport Call TrackerNew Employee RecordTravel ManagementCourier ManagementCab Booking


Play Chess Online With Zoho Writer

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Our users always surprise us when it comes to using Zoho’s services in esoteric ways. We came across this interesting post by Bidhan Adhikary (Bidhan is from Nepal) recently – ‘How to play Chess online with your friend using Zoho Docs‘. Bidhan had actually used the Zoho Writer’s editor within Zoho Docs.

The post describes how to construct a black and white table in Zoho Writer, how to place the chess piece icons in the starting squares, how to make the moves (simply drag and drop the images) and how to play chess with your remote, online friend (share the Zoho Writer document with him/her, start making the moves). Since Zoho Writer offers near real-time document editing, each move gets shown to the remote user almost immediately.

You can choose to follow the steps that Bidhan outlines in his blog post. Or click the ‘Download’ link at the top-right of Bidhan’s public Zoho Writer document, save it as a .doc/.docx file in your desktop and upload it back to your Zoho Writer account. Your online chess board is ready now. Invite your friend (share the document to your friend’s email address) and start playing chess over the web.

Some pointers:

  1. Once you have made your move, you’ll have to take your cursor out of the chess board (since Zoho Writer locks the table down for collaborative editing).
  2. For capturing an opponent’s piece, you can click on a piece and delete it, before moving your piece to that square
  3. You can use the ‘Undo’ icon for wrong capturing, moves etc
  4. You can use the ‘Collaborators’ (text bubble) icon at the bottom-right to chat with your friend while making your moves.
  5. For starting a new game, you can use Zoho Writer’s ‘Version’ feature and revert back to the initial version

Go to Zoho Writer and try making your own online chess board now :)

Have you used any of Zoho’s apps in such interesting ways? Share it with us in the comments.