Add Online Forums to your Support Portal

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The best way to fully understand your customers is to go beyond their needs and identify/solve their problems. We have tried to make this easier for you in Zoho Support through the introduction of the

Forums


add-on
. This add-on is powered by

Zoho Discussions
. The add-on helps you setup a result oriented, online customer community where your community members can start general discussions, share ideas, report issues, ask questions etc, all under one roof.

With the Forums add-on, you can engage your customers in various ways:

  • Start discussion threads
  • Make product/service announcements
  • Manage your product roadmap through voting of Ideas
  • Convert forum posts as requests in Zoho Support and track them
  • and do much more

The Forums add-on supports all the features of the Zoho forum (http://forums.zoho.com/).

You can read more about the Forums Add-on at http://www.zoho.com/support/help/forums-addon.html. To enable the 15 day free trial of this add-on in Zoho Support, go to

Setup

->

Customer Portal Settings

->

Forums Configuration
. Subscriptions are available @ $10/forum/month.

Go ahead and setup your own forum with individual sub-forums for each of your departments. Start building your customer community today!

Enable Collaboration and Innovation in your Organization

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A recent

Harvard Business Review article
talks about the need for people across hierarchies, functions and geographies within an organization to collaborate. Your employees should be empowered to submit their ideas and suggestions across the hierarchy. And your top management should be able to provide feedback and guidance to employees across verticals. Also, companies/teams within the same parent organization should be able to bridge differences in objectives and work together towards organizational goals.

Another aspect of collaboration required within an organization, is to tap knowledge and experience for process improvement in a large, global organization. The article suggests the need for online tools that can be employed to bridge these gaps and to enhance vertical, horizontal and global collaboration within the organization.

An Online Discussion forum can help you perfectly achieve all the above objectives. Here’s how:


Process Improvement and Innovation

All your employees can participate in process improvement by suggesting ideas or reporting problems. Your Online Discussion forum can provide a variety of topics to post under. For example an employee can post a process improvement initiative or a new innovative idea under the ‘Propose an idea’ category.


Besides suggesting their own ideas or contributing by commenting on existing ideas, employees can also vote on ideas or on whether a particular comment contributes value to the idea.


    


Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Knowledge and Expertise across various functions can be tapped for solving problems.


Discussion posts can be organized into categories, making it easier for employees to view or contribute to relevant discussions.


Employees should be able to follow, bookmark or email specific posts, so that they can easily collaborate across a geographically dispersed organization.


The look and feel of the discussion community should be customizable and brandable, making employees feel at home work irrespective of where they access the forum from.


At Zoho, we offer one such tool and have in fact, been using it extensively for encouraging collaboration within our own organization.

Zoho Discussions
lets organizations create powerful internal communities which are fully customizable and come with a host of collaborative features. Apart from the above mentioned features, Zoho Discussions comes with a few more

integrated features
that enable employees across teams to collaborate and contribute, thereby helping us constantly innovate around the products and services we create for you.

Another important community powered by Zoho Discussions, is our

Customer Support forum
where customers can discuss Zoho products with our employees and with one another.

Your organization too can benefit in more ways than one, from a hosted forum service like Zoho Discussions. Watch

this video
to learn more:


Multiple Zoho Products Win the Trust of Secure Link Services

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We are quite excited to present Mr. Julian Weber, Managing Director of the software development firm -

Secure Link Services Ltd
. In this post, he shares his experience about how Zoho became his go-to software vendor for ALL his business needs.


A little about Secure Link Services

Secure Link Services is a software development firm with offices in Zurich, Switzerland and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Launched in December 2010, we currently have 15 full time employees and extend our team with more than 10 contractors, partners and other third-party collaborators. Our mission is to deliver superior quality, speed and reliability in software development, and we intend to set market-leading standards in the globalized markets of information technology.


Secure Link Services’ Challenge

When we chose the software to underpin our operations, we had to take a number of factors into account. First, we considered price and usability. We are a startup company, so our administrative requirements are limited to the industry standard and every franc, taka and dollar counts. Another related consideration was, whether to buy the applications and run them on our own or whether to rent the applications and let someone else run them in a software-as-a-service model.

In addition to price, the other factors included 1) how to best support employees in Switzerland and Bangladesh, many of whom are constantly traveling and 2) how responsive vendors are to customer support issues, including fixing and upgrading their software.


Zoho Solution

The first Zoho application we used was


Zoho Projects
.

For two and a half years, I had been using Basecamp, but it was expensive and I didn’t like the UI. So I switched to Zoho Projects and found it to be one of the greatest tools for both admin projects and engineering related ones. My initial experience with Zoho encouraged us to adopt Zoho applications for other administrative purposes, and today we use Zoho Books, Zoho CRM and Zoho People as well as Zoho Projects.

Zoho Projects – As a startup, we had to create a lot of operating documents from scratch – our code of conduct, employee manuals, things of that nature. So within Zoho Projects, we created a project for each document and assigned tasks to the administrative teams. This way, we were able to report on the progress of each document, track who was doing what, and identify and address any problem areas. We do the same thing to maintain the code and content of our website, write a brochure, and perform just about any other administrative task. We even use Zoho Projects to manage marketing campaigns that go beyond the scope of Zoho CRM in terms of detailed planning, execution and management.








Zoho CRM

I  had been using Salesforce in another organization before, but Zoho CRM seems to be more flexible and definitely is more affordable. What you find in Zoho CRM is almost the same functionality as in Salesforce and it follows the Dominant Design in the CRM market.

Right now, we use contacts, accounts and leads exclusively, but we have assessed various other functionalities which we will soon use, as our marketing activities grow.



Zoho Books

This is really outstanding. We evaluated a number of online accounting applications in addition to Zoho Books, but we really like the processes behind Zoho Books. It’s very easy to use, very intuitive, e.g., the “Money In” and “Money Out” tabs in the UI.

The usability from complex bank transactions, creditcard handling to automated invoicing and estimating is really strong. We also like the support of multiple currencies in Zoho Books, and the customizable document templates are nice. Additionally, the reports give us a clear picture of our finances, taxes, and our business overall.


Zoho People
 
– We use Zoho People to keep track of information on our employees and
our third-party contractors. For employees, we track details related to
demographics, employment history, performance assessment, salary data,
emergency contacts, and other information. And we use Zoho People to
provide monthly salary, allowance and expense reports. We fully
customized Zoho People by adding our own approval workflows and custom
fields so we can adapt to the conditions of the Bangladeshi
jurisdiction.


Zoho’s Impact

The decision to work in the cloud with Zoho was initially motivated by cost and accessibility. But over time, working online with Zoho has proven to be a superior, long-term approach for us. In addition to the savings advantage, Zoho gives us software that’s easy to use and, if we want to modify it, easy to customize. The applications are updated constantly, not every year or couple of years. And as we grow, all we have to do is create an account for new employees, and they have access to the full Zoho suite.

Another area in which we are seeing a big impact is administrative efficiencies. Here, Zoho Books and Zoho People stand out most significantly.

By using Zoho Books, we save roughly 40 percent of a full-time employee. We’ve basically cut our accounting time in half, particularly the time it took to track expenses, receipts and other records. Likewise, Zoho People saves another 25 percent of a full-time employee, largely because of its self-service aspect.




If you too would like to share your Zoho success story,


connect with us on

Facebook
 and

Twitter
.




Just in: Recurring Expenses in Zoho Invoice & Zoho Books

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In our most recent update we moved in “Recurring Expenses”, into your go-to invoicing software Zoho Invoice and your ever-so reliable accounting
software Zoho Books. With this addition, you can save yourself from the
hassle of recording recurring expenses over and over again. Read on as
we give you a heads up on this useful feature.

Every business
would incur basic recurring expenses on a monthly basis like expenses on
rentals, commuting charges, office maintenance charges, your Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books subscriptions, etc. This is going to be a whiff of fresh air for those of you who have been recording these periodical expenses.
Simply set up a recurring expense and the expense will automatically be
created after the specified period of time. The period of time could be
days, weeks, month or even years. In addition to this, while setting up
the expense you can categorize the type of expenses; select if the
expense is to be incurred forever or if it would end after a specific
date; mark it as billable; if marked billable you can even select the
customer who is to be associated with the expense.

You can skim through our help section for more information on working with recurring expenses.

We
are going to sign off and let you try this feature. But we won’t be
away for too long. We will be back soon with a very interesting addition
to talk about. Until then, enjoy accounting and invoicing with Zoho.

Cloudcamper picks Zoho Projects for Cloud based Collaboration

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Cloudcamper
 provides cloud computing solutions and online software to small and medium business as well as to divisions within larger enterprises. The company is a reseller for both Zoho and Google Apps. Cloudcamper has its main office in Oostende, Belgium as well as five remote offices, each staffed by one of the company’s five partners.


The distributed nature of Cloudcamper skill sets, mirrors the distributed nature of the company’s work force. However, when a client needs a cloud solution that requires the talents of several Cloudcamper partners, the company has to act as a single, unified organization.

To that end, the company needed a way to coordinate the activities of its partners and its contract developers working on any given client project.

 The Zoho Solution
 For Cloudcamper, Zoho Projects provides cloud-based collaboration that supports the company’s structure and work style.

“If we didn’t use

Zoho Projects
, our job would be hard. We’d have to use
a shared spreadsheet or something to get an overview of all our
projects,” says Philip Debaere, managing partner at Cloudcamper. “Now, we open Zoho Projects and in one view, we
see all our open projects and their status. And the integration of the
other Zoho applications means that, for instance, I can send a project
to a customer in Zoho CRM and pull an invoice from Zoho Projects in Zoho
Invoice. Those features are really strong and well executed.”

Cloudcamper relies on Zoho Projects to track the time, partners and contract developers spend on tasks. Debaere and his partners review these time logs to calculate the profitability of projects and to uncover problems in project delivery. The information may be used to adjust prices to more accurately reflect time investments.

The Zoho Projects Gmail Contextual Gadget keeps Cloudcamper users in their Gmail user interface but lets them create a project, transform an email into an actionable task, assign tasks, and more.


Read more
 on how Cloudcamper benefited from using Zoho Projects.


Want to add Zoho Projects to your Google Apps? Click the button below.


Receive Partial Payments Online

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Peep into your Zoho Invoice or Zoho Books account and you’ll spot our
brand new addition, “Online Partial Payments”. Earlier, we had the option
to record partial payments manually for invoices, we’ve extended that further to
online payments as well.

Most often in businesses, by mutual
consent from both the seller and the buyer, the payment is accepted in
installments. If your business works this way, then you have some real
good news here. To keep up with your customers’ installment payments could be
rather difficult. With the introduction of partial payments, this issue would never resurface again.

Send an invoice out to the
customer, choose the option to let the customer make partial payments
for that invoice. As the customer pays, the amount due for the
invoice is deducted and closed eventually; when the customer pays up the
entire amount due for that invoice.

Get to know more about this feature from our help section.

Enjoy receiving payments, while we get back with another feature to rant about. Until then enjoy invoicing and accounting with us. Follow us on Twitter for quick updates.

Just Launched: Zoho BugTracker (with GitHub Integration!)

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About a year ago we added bug tracking functionality to Zoho Projects to help software teams easily submit, track and fix bugs. 

Fast forward to now, and we’re pretty happy with the uptake it has gotten among customers. Many people have tried it, used it and purchased it. Many people also shared with us their feedback and how we could better tailor it to meet their needs. We were frequently asked to have bug tracking as a separate, stand-alone product, decoupled from the rest of Zoho Projects – and to make it even more affordable.

So we took those requests to heart and today we’re launching Zoho BugTracker, a standalone product that helps teams fix bugs fast.
Zoho BugTracker has all of the now-familiar features. For example, it makes submitting a bug report dead-simple. You can even attach screenshots or documents of the offending behavior for the team to analyze. BugTracker also allows teams to easily organize bugs and automatically change severity, priority or other data based on certain rules. And all of that is customizable to fit what you want to track.

Teams can keep tabs on the bugs and their progress. Reports and dashboards make it easy for team members to focus on what’s important for them. And just like in Zoho Projects, Zoho BugTracker displays the stream of the most recent activities and progress in the team.

But that’s not all. With this latest update, we’re also adding one very cool thing: GitHub integration. With it, you can link a GitHub repository to your Zoho BugTracker space. Code checked-in in Github, will be displayed as a changeset in BugTracker. If, while commiting the changes in Github you specified a bug ID, it will also be linked to that particular bug in your database. The GitHub integration should be up in about a week.
Express edition for Bug Tracker starts at $40 per month for an unlimited number of users. Includes submitting bugs through email, customer workflows, notifications, custom views and much more. You can upgrade to other plans to get business rules, custom fields and other very nice features. 
You can signup and start using Zoho BugTracker today at: www.zoho.com/bugtracker. Here’s to fixing bugs fast!