Introducing Zoho People

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zplogo.pngWe are excited to announce a new addition to the Zoho Suite – Zoho People.

Zoho People is a Human Resource Management Application for HR team in an organization. This new business application joins our other business applications – Zoho CRM, Zoho Meeting, Zoho Projects and Zoho DB.

About Zoho People

Zoho People has several modules for HR Team (admins) and for Employees in an Organization. Let me briefly explain about the key modules…

Organization Module:

This module is used to define the structure of your organization including departments, designations/titles and also the Org Chart.

Recruitment Module:

The Recruitment module eases the hiring process in an organization. It automates the steps involved between searching a candidate from resume database to hiring him an employee. This module also lets managers raise job requirements and admins post openings on the website.

Forms Module:

The Forms module has a set of pre-created forms (mini-applications) for common tasks in an organization like filing expense reports, reporting leave etc. With Zoho Creator integration, this module lets admins create new forms or customize existing forms and make them available to all employees.

Checklist Module:

This module lets admin automate business processes and define the flow based on conditions. Tasks can automatically be assigned to users or groups based on defined flow.

Self Service Module:

This module acts as a self-service module for Employees and Managers. All the employees have access to this module. Managers can define job openings and organize their team structure. Employees can submit information to the HR department using the forms defined by the HR team (like submitting an Expense Report or informing about a leave etc).

Roles and Permissions :

This module is used by admin to define fine grained access for different roles based on permissions – which drill down to field level, action level and form level.

This explanation doesn’t do justice to the capabilities of the application. The video below gives a quick overview of the key functionalities in the application.

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While all these capabilities make sense in a HR App, we understand that no two businesses operate the same way. Customization is the key for an application like this. So we made Zoho People completely customizable. Right from the top level tabs till the forms inside the application, everything is customizable. Infact, we have integrated Zoho Creator inside Zoho People allowing teams to customize every form in the application.Who Should use Zoho People?

Zoho People is really targeted at a level beyond the very small (say 50+ employee) businesses. Very small businesses can keep track of people in ad-hoc ways, (spreadsheets work!) but once a company reaches a certain size (even 25-30) keeping track of things like recruitment, IT resource allocation, benefits, vacations, skill management etc. becomes time consuming. In fact, that is the level at which a business typically gets a dedicated HR person. That is where Zoho People steps in.Zoho ApplicationsBig PictureAs we often say, we want to be the IT Department for SMBs. Just offering a set of productivity applications doesn’t meet the needs of businesses. There needs to be a suite of business applications addressing those business needs. With Zoho People, we are taking another step towards offering a complete online solution for businesses. As always, we cannot wait to hear your feedback on this new release.

ToonDoo, the Pioneering Office Unproductivity Suite

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I don’t know how many of you know this – we have a site called ToonDoo, a place to create & share comic strips online, which is probably best described as an Office Unproductivity suite, judging how much time our own folks spend there – I have 30+ comic (or perhaps not-so-comic) creations of my own. We try to tuck’er out of the way, because, you know, it is not good for business … I am proud to report that it has already been blocked in several humor-challenged IT companies in India.

ToonDoo has been gaining quite a user base on its own – with over 125,000 comics created, of which 75,000+ are available in public. The private comic strips tend to be office or classroom humor variety – very specific to a context and a social group. Like, you know, when you are in a boring meeting or a boring class – which is to say you are in a perfectly typical meeting or a perfectly typical class – you can doodle away your boredom in ToonDoo, and even secretly share your creation with other fellow sufferers. No artistic skill required – just bring your sense of humor, but if you lack that, well, there is always that financial planning spreadsheet on Zoho ;-)

We had a “field day” on ToonDoo recently when our office cricket tournament was on; losing in the field doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the Toon-barbs you get from colleagues.

Here are a couple of my recent attempts (hold your fire, please – yeah, I know I am not going to make it as a comic already!)

First, this news item from this blog post which is connected to this thread provided inspiration for this one …

And then, on a Friday,

On Mobile Phones and Server Farms

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A web application like Zoho may all be “in the cloud” as far as users are concerned, but in reality it sits on racks and racks of servers and switches and storage. They occupy space, consume power, and most importantly, they produce lots of heat, which requires even more power to cool them. One other product comes to mind that has the similar kind of power/space challenge – the ubiquitous mobile phone.

Given how mobile phones pack a whole lot of functionality in a tiny package, I have wondered if the ideal server farm is just tens of thousands of mobile phones packed together. It seems to me that the semiconductor technology behind mobile devices is far, far more power efficient than the stuff that goes in servers. Partly it is a backwards compatibility issue, with servers having to run code written all the way back to 1980s, while mobile phones simply didn’t exist that far back. Partly, it is also a function of how traditional client-server applications were architectural monoliths, compared to the deeply distributed “service-oriented architecture” that is common in web applications today.

With mobile phones approaching very respectable CPU & memory capacity, packaging them together as a server cluster makes a lot of sense. Linux can run on almost all of the modern CPUs common in cell-phones, and the mobile version of Java seems actually well-suited for server use, particularly for deeply partitioned, distributed applications. Lightweightness is actually an advantage in server software, just as it is in mobile software.

So the day may not be far off when you use in-the-cloud applications on your mobile device, the same kind of technology powers both your mobile device as well as the servers. It brings a different meaning to the word “convergence”, a different kind of marriage between the web and mobile devices.

On a related note, a company called Azul Systems provides a cluster of hardware-assisted-JVMs in a box. They have specialized semiconductor technology to power Java applications. Such ideas could completely alter the economics of running data centers.

Zoho Writer Extends Mobile Support, Adds Offline Capability for Windows Mobile Using Google Gears

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As you may know, we launched Zoho applications for iPhone earlier at izoho.com. Today, we are extending our mobile support further. Coming just a week after an important update, Zoho Writer’s new functionality includes support for Windows Mobile.

You can now access your Zoho Writer documents from your Windows Mobile device. Currently we support Windows Mobile 6.0. Documents in Zoho Writer can be viewed using Internet Explorer on your Windows Mobile device. The current version supports viewing your documents. Document editing will be offered later.

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Windows Mobile Offline Support

One of the significant functionality added in this update is offline support on your Windows Mobile device.

As you may know, desktop version of Zoho Writer supports offline capability using Google Gears. With today’s launch of Google Gears for Windows Mobile, we are extending our offline support to Windows Mobile devices as well. This means you can now access your Zoho Writer documents from your Windows Mobile device on the plane.

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This video gives you a quick idea on how Zoho Writer works offline on your windows mobile device.

We again would like to thank Google for their commitment for the open source Gears project. As always, we can’t wait to hear your feedback/comments on this.

Zoho Viewer adds Document Expiry

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We added a new feature in Zoho Viewer last week which allows users to set an expiry time on the documents uploaded in Zoho Viewer. After the specified time, the document will automatically be deleted from our servers and the link to the document will cease to work. You can also set the document not to expire at all. Refer the image below on the choices available.

Document Expiry in Viewer

The expiry information is available via the Info link in the document page.

Info Dialog in Viewer

Other updates in the last few months include:

1) Japanese version of Zoho Viewer. If you access Zoho Viewer with your browser’s locale set as Japanese, then you will see the Japanese version. It was launched in December.

2) A new Slideshow link for ppt/pps/odp/sxi files, which enables you to run a slideshow in full screen mode.

Here is our introductory blog post on the Zoho Viewer. Do try out Zoho Viewer and let us know your feedback.

Zoho Mail & Zoho Business client-side integration gearing up

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Up until last update of Zoho Mail, most of the work on integrating Zoho Mail with Zoho Business was at the server side. Because of this, you wouldn’t have had the chance to see what we’ve been doing behind the scenes. Now, its high time for you to watch the integration happening right in front of your eyes. Yes, in the forth coming week starting from March 5, 2008, we’ve scheduled a few updates that are much of client-side. With these updates, we’ll be integrating Tasks, Notes and Links of Zoho Mail with Zoho Business.

We know most of you are using Zoho Mail everyday for your personal and official emails. To provide you an uninterrupted email service, we’ve taken appropriate measure to perform these updates without any downtime. During this period, you’ll not be able to add, edit or delete tasks, notes and links in Zoho Mail. However, you can do the same from Zoho Business. Once this update is done, you’ll find a centralized common Tasks, Notes and Links in Zoho Mail and Zoho Business.

We greatly appreciate your patience and co-operation!