The Technical and Human Hurdles of a New CRM Implementation

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It took Jamie Wilson, Coordinator of Global Operations for Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) six months to evaluate all the CRM systems the nonprofit was considering. He looked at Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Siebel from Oracle, and Zoho. His top requirement was a CRM system that could offer tight integration between financials and billing.

Initially Wilson began advocating Microsoft Dynamics because it integrated with Sharepoint and Microsoft offered a decent nonprofit pricing scheme. But when Wilson made his final decision he advocated for Zoho because of its interoperability with other applications through its open API. CDISC uses so many different systems and Wilson discovered that a lot of them integrate with the Zoho API right out of the box.

Choosing a system that fit CDISC’s needs was Wilson’s first technical hurdle. Now he needed to get people to actually use the CRM system which was a major culture shift for the nonprofit. Just because you create the workflow processes it’s not easy to get people to stop inefficient behavior such as sending all communications via email and attaching documents to emails. Ultimately his job required a lot of follow up with members and leads on how to use a workflow to make their life a lot easier.

For any other nonprofit struggling with a similar situation of porting over legacy financial data, Wilson highly recommends you get your financial data in the most standard format possible and get ready for a long cutover period. You’ll have to rely on old Excel spreadsheets for a while until you can start relying on the live CRM data coming in.

For both technology and people, Wilson advised, “Don’t rush the money and be sensitive to people’s attitudes to how they do work.”

Good CRM Requires a Standard Data Input Methodology

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Before the vacation rental management company Optimal Owner Care started using Zoho, they tried to grow their database by purchasing a bulk set of leads and dialing them through a piece of rudimentary client management software that wasn’t sustainable nor expandable, said Matthew Velez and his colleague from Optimal Owner Care.

Since switching to Zoho, business has changed dramatically. The company has grown from ten employees to sixty. To get a handle on what was happening with the sales team they had to normalize the data protocols and the 70,000 leads they’ve processed, explained Velez.

If everyone is doing their own thing when entering data into the CRM, that’s a real problem. You can’t generate reports. It’s very important that everyone follows the same protocols.

Optimal Owner Care’s most valuable reports are their sales reports. They can see how efficient sales people are being and use that information to optimize the workflow. They also utilize a dashboard so that each sales person can see the exact dollar amount they’re making based on every single action they take and that motivates them to do more, Velez said.

Without Zoho there’s no way they could have pulled this off with their growing staff.

For other organizations dealing with a mountain of growing data, they highly advise to stay organized. Create data entry protocols from the start and stick to them. If you keep constantly changing procedures you’ll create gaps and lose data. It’s the only way to create a sustainable and growable sales force.

More Power to the Math Wizard in You – Aggregate Formulas

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Zoho Reports has long supported custom formulas, where you can define your own formula that involves two or more columns. These formulas are applied at the row level. Say there is Column A and Column B and you want a Column C which does string concatenation (combining texts). You can have a formula column defined as
concat(Column A, Column B).

There are scenarios where aggregation formulas (sum, avg, min, max etc) are to be applied at the column level. Here’s a real world example. In Google Adwords, Click Through Rate (CTR) is defined as (No. of Clicks)/(No. of Impressions). If you just go by averaging the CTR as Avg(CTR), you will end up with the wrong average value for the month, quarter or year. But if you let Zoho Reports know that CTR is actually sum(Clicks)/sum(Impressions) by using the Aggregate Formula, then you’ll arrive at the right values.

You can add an aggregate formula by using Add -> Aggregate Formula option in a table’s toolbar.

When creating reports (charts, pivot tables, summary views), you can use these aggregate formulas as you would use the regular columns or custom formula columns.

Here’s how the wrong and right approaches for averaging the CTR would look like.

Can you think of other scenarios where you can use the power of Aggregate Formulas in Zoho Reports? Let us know in the comments.

Bridge the Gap between your Customer Support and Engineering…

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Don’t stop with tracking your tickets to closure. Now submit a bug for a ticket and track them too.

We are glad to announce that Zoho Support is now integrated with Zoho BugTracker. Organizations using Zoho Support and Zoho BugTracker can ensure seamless communication between your customer support and engineering teams. Your support agent can file a bug for a ticket which can be tracked till closure by staying within Zoho Support. Also both the teams can collaborate on a bug/ticket by leaving a comment in them, which stays synchronized between the applications.

The Zoho Support + Zoho BugTracker Integration: Our Story

Lawrence our customer support executive, receives a ticket for a glitch in our feature. He quickly goes through the ticket and files a bug for it. Hooray! the bug is now routed to our Support Management project in Zoho BugTracker. And thanks to the business rule created in Zoho BugTracker, the bug is auto assigned to John, our dedicated developer.


John needs more information about the bug in question. So he leaves a comment on the bug which simultaneously gets posted onto the ticket in Zoho Support. Yes, it’s all synchronized. Wait there’s more. Besides collaborating, Lawrence stays abreast on the developments happening on his bug. As and when John updates the status of the bug in our Support Management project , it updates the status of the ticket in Zoho Support.

Do you have a similar story?. Do share it with us and remember this integration is exclusively available for our Enterprise subscribers at no extra cost.

We believe this integration would add bastion to your helpdesk and ensure you provide an awesome customer support as ever. Let us know what you think at

Group Calendar Support & Other Neat Updates in Zoho Calendar

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There is no refuting the fact that be it work, family or friends, in order to get things done, it is necessary to be on the same page as a group or with your group.

Group CalendarAt times, it is crucial for each person in a group to be aware of everyone’s calendar of activities. This is tough considering other complications like employees in the same company sitting at different time zones, teams changing frequently and what not.

Well, in relation to these thoughts, we are glad to share with you the latest update to Zoho Calendar. We have added group calendar support and other neat features to help you close these communication gaps and collaborate more effectively with your co-workers, team mates and groups.

Group Calendar
It can be overwhelming to plan and track group activities, especially when someone is a part of many groups. In Zoho Calendar, you can now create separate group calendars with different lists of members and also subscribe to other group calendars. Members granted access to these group calendars can create and modify their events, view events of other members and always be in sync with team proceedings.

You can view all your group events combined as a single unified view to get a feel of how stuffed or free you actually are. If you feel your combined view is far too busy, you can right click on a particular group calendar to load it up in a separate tab and then make some event modifications in individual calendars if necessary.

Send / Receive invitations across calendars
We realize that preferences vary from one person to the other and there are many other calendar applications in use. You can now send event invitations and receive RSVP from users of other calendars too. This is made possible through email event notifications via Zoho Mail, playing the part of a mediator between the two calendar services. What is neat is that even if the host does not check his mail, the calendar is kept up-to-date.

Add/View events in different timezones
Scheduling events with participants on different time zones can be really tricky. A little miscalculation of half hour and late arrival for a webinar with a good prospect can be quite damaging. In Zoho Calendar, you can now add /view events in different time zones without having to mess with the time zone of your calendar.

Merge multiple calendars & embed
Embedding your calendar of events on your blog or website is a good way to keep your fans and followers intrigued. If you are someone who maintains multiple calendars, you can now merge events across several calendars and embed a single view. So when you have a form for people to request appointments, they will be able to exactly know when you are free.

Check this what’s new page to learn more about these latest updates to Zoho Calendar. We are confident that these updates will make it easier for you to manage your group activities, events and meetings.

Do post your comments on how these updates worked out for you and other suggestions on improving the Zoho Calendar experience.

Introducing Zoho Sites, Free Website Builder for your Business​

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We are excited to announce a new addition to our broad application portfolio; Zoho Sites. This new application is a website builder aimed at simplifying website creation, including mobile websites. Users can create websites easily just by dragging and dropping elements, without having to write even a single line of code.

​There are hundreds of Website builders available in the market already. Then, why are we launching Zoho Sites now?​

At Zoho, we want to offer a broad set of business tools, so that you can run your entire business on Zoho. If you look at our portfolio today, we host your email on Zoho Mail, your documents in Zoho Docs, your customer data in Zoho CRM, Accounting data in Zoho Books, Support through Zoho Support….you get the idea. Obviously, website hosting was one of the missing pieces from our portfolio. Until today.

​As you’d expect from Zoho, we created an easy to use drag-and-drop website builder to create your website. We added good number of themes you can build on top of, or customize. We built various widgets (like Google Maps, Google AdSense, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa etc) that you can include in your web pages.​ Zoho Sites offers ‘one-click’ publish to your existing domain or a new domain. And every website that you build on Zoho Sites  will automatically be optimized for Mobile devices.

This is just the beginning.

The application comes with great set of features unique to Zoho. You can create powerful forms such as Contact Form, Feedback, Survey etc…. The form builder is powered by Zoho Creator which lets you collect data from the visitors, without writing any code.

The pre-integrated Zoho Creator backend also powers the Dynamic Content feature. It populates the web page content from the Zoho Creator database bringing advanced features with a simplified interface.

You can collaboratively work on websites with other users by sharing your site with appropriate permissions. You can also add a blog to your site with the built-in blogging platform, analyze your website traffic with the available Google Analytics integration.

If you are a Google Apps user, Zoho Sites is also integrated with Google Apps and is available in Google Apps Marketplace.


Zoho Sites is available in both free and paid editions. The paid edition is priced at $39/year that lets you create up to 6 websites, 10 forms, unlimited pages and offers rebranding along with some advanced features. The free version lets you create two websites, two forms, unlimited web pages and is ad free.

Want to look at a sample website created using Zoho Sites? Check out our Zoholics website. If you access it from your mobile device, you’ll notice that the website is optimized based on your device.

You can get started by creating your website @

The launch of Zoho Sites is an important milestone. Moving forward, you can expect tighter integration with our backed systems like CRM, Support etc. Meanwhile, we would love to hear your feedback on Zoho Sites.