Web Design and App Development Company M2i3 Uses Zoho for Quick and Effective Invoicing

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Are you one of those people who spend hours sending invoices manually? This post is just for you!
Find out how

Jean-Marc Lagace, principal partner at M2i3 managed to

save quality time

by switching over to online invoicing with Zoho Invoice.

A little about M2i3

 is a web design and application development company based in La Prairie, Quebec, Canada. Founded in 2003, the company has extensive expertise in software development, including e-commerce, content management, and customer management applications. M2i3 takes pride in its ability to deliver application solutions backed by 20 years of experience, with strength in PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python, and Perl as well as Agile software development.

M2i3’s Challenge

For years, M2i3 prepared its client invoices manually, using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Word documents. All invoice amounts were calculated by hand, including fees and taxes – both provincial and federal. Basically, M2i3 would calculate the two taxes together and then, after three months, pull reports and do more math to recoup some of the provincial taxes charged on the federal taxes.


The primary complaint with manual invoices was the time it took to generate them. “Invoicing was just a pain,” says Jean-Marc Lagace. “We were using Excel and Word, and it would take forever just to do the invoicing.” 

Zoho’s Solution

Simple Invoicing:

Three years ago, M2i3 began using the free edition of Zoho Invoice, which gave the company a chance to investigate the service without risk. The investigation paid off as M2i3 found Zoho Invoice very simple and easy to use. In fact, the calculations that M2i3 used to perform to figure its federal and provincial taxes are performed by Zoho Invoice. “Now, doing the invoicing is something we can do in just a few minutes,” said Lagace. “I don’t like spending time preparing invoices. Nobody does. Zoho Invoice really takes the sting out of the whole process.”

Recurring Invoice:

For most clients, M2i3 sends between two and three invoices – one before the project starts, one at the end of the project, and occasionally one at the project’s midway point. The company uses the recurring invoice feature of Zoho Invoice for support and maintenance.

The recurring invoice feature is great because every month, I get an email that tells me an invoice was created. I review it and then, with the press of a button, I can send it as an electronic invoice or as a paper invoice that gets delivered by snail mail. I don’t have to stuff any envelopes or lick any stamps. Zoho Invoice takes care of that for me.

Payment Followup:

And Zoho Invoice makes it easy for M2i3 to issue follow up invoices when customers fall behind in their payments. The company has set up criteria for payment, including grace periods, interest charges, and late fees.

Having Zoho Invoice calculate late fees makes it much easier to charge them. If we still did our invoicing manually – calculating the late fees and sending out Word documents – clients would be much more inclined to question the fees even though they agreed to them in their contracts. When the late fee is calculated and invoiced with Zoho Invoice, clients don’t think twice about it.

Google Apps Integration:

M2i3 relies on Zoho Invoice integration with Google Apps to streamline its invoicing workflow. Users access Zoho Invoice through their Google desktops, using the same menu they use to access their Google Docs files. And M2i3 users sign in, just once to gain access both vendors’ applications. The Zoho/Google integration meant that the contacts M2i3 had in its Google address book could be easily transferred to its Zoho contact list, eliminating the need to re-enter that information by hand.

Zoho Invoice Impact​

In addition to professional looking invoices created by Zoho Invoice, M2i3 enjoys time savings that can’t be overstated. Compared to preparing invoices manually, Zoho Invoice takes a job that used to average 30 minutes per invoice and compresses it down to five minutes for a one-time invoice and to two minutes for a recurring invoice. Likewise, Zoho Invoice greatly accelerates the process of recovering provincial taxes paid on federal taxes.

In the past, we had to calculate all the taxes by hand and that took forever. With Zoho Invoice, we just run two reports. The tax reports are actually within the product itself. It’s very useful and a huge time saver.

If you’d like to share your Zoho story, write to us at support@zohoinvoice.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

New in Zoho CRM Workflow Rules: Time Based Actions, Notify Contacts and more

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‘When was that task due?’
‘Oh, I missed that appointment again!’
‘What was the closing date of this deal?’
‘How many tasks do I have for today?’

For all executives in Sales or Customer Support Departments, these lines may sound very familiar.

If you are familiar with Zoho CRM’s Workflow Rule feature, you’d know that you can create Alerts, Tasks and Field Updates whenever a record is created or edited. But then, consider this scenario where you are a sales representative handling multiple deals with their closing dates spread over almost 2 months! You want to receive a reminder about each deal just 3 days before the closing date. Not possible with Zoho CRM, you’d think. But wait.. with the latest updates that we have made to Workflow Rules, this is now possible for all Enterprise Edition users!

We call this new functionality “Time Based Actions“, which can be simply defined as: “alerts, tasks, and field updates that are triggered on a specified time after the rule is executed.”

That’s not all. You can now send email alerts to your contacts and leads too. Send that Welcome Email right on time and without delay from your Workflow Rule itself.

And in case you want to assign your leads to a different person after they reach a particular stage in the sales pipeline, you can do so with the Workflow Field Updates. The Record Owner field can now be updated too.

Learn more about this feature but before you proceed, here’s a presentation on how you can use Zoho CRM’s updated Workflow Rules to handle a simple business case.

A overdue task or a missed closing date.. for all those in the Sales and Customer Support Departments, this is no longer the case. We believe these updates would be useful.

We would also like to know about all those use cases that you handle with this feature. Join our user community and let us know!

Just in: Custom Fields for Invoices and Estimates

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“All good things come to he who wants and asks”. 
Ask you did. That’s why Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books now support “Custom Fields” for invoices and estimates. Come along as we run you through this much requested for feature.

Before Custom Fields:

had to make do with the notes section to include any additional
information to your invoices & estimates. This means, you may need
to enter them manually invoice by invoice, there’s a good chance that
you may miss out adding that information.

Now that there are custom fields:

get to add custom fields to your invoices. The custom field could hold
any information like the name of the sales person associated with an
estimate; the delivery date for the items on an invoice; the discount
code used on the invoice; or even a personalized tag for that customer. 

Setting up custom fields is as easy as a pie:

to Settings and you’ll see the option to add “Custom Fields” for
invoices & estimates. You can set up three custom fields each for
invoices and estimates. In the example here, let’s set up a custom field called “Delivery Date”.


The new custom field “Delivery Date” will now appear on all new invoices that you create.

Enjoy using custom fields while we get our elbows greasy on another feature that’s been on our minds for the longest time.

If you haven’t been following us on Twitter or Facebook, we must say that you’ve been missing out on quintessential tips and updates. Join us there soon.

Explore Zoho Reports Series: Part II – Colors

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In the first post of this series, we got to know all about ‘Formula Column‘ – the various formula types we support, how/where to use them etc. In this post, let’s see another little explored feature of Zoho Reports – Colors.

As you know, Zoho Reports allows you to easily create various types of reports like charts, pivot tables, summary tables, dashboards etc. Charts are particularly liked by many due to their visual appeal and the easy manner in which they get to convey trends and to interpret or segregate large amounts of data. When it comes to charts, color is an important aspect as it helps differentiate one metric/measure from another. There are two different aspects of color when it comes to Zoho Reports. Let’s illustrate them here with examples.

Using the Color Palette

Let’s say you want to plot monthly sales and profit numbers. Drag-and-drop ‘Month’ in the X-axis and ‘Sales’ & ‘Profit’ as the two Y-axes. When you plot the chart, you will have something like the below.

Default colors for ‘Sales’ and ‘Profit’ are assigned by Zoho Reports. Go to the design mode by clicking on the

Edit Design

button. Click on the legend (‘Total Sales’ or ‘Total Profit’) and you’ll get to see the color palette. 

Choose the colors you want.

Using the Colors Shelf (Field)

Let’s say you want to plot monthly sales. But you would need to know how different regions contributed to sales. For this, you will be dropping ‘Date’ in the X-axis and ‘Sales’ in the Y-axis. And to plot the sales region-wise, you can drop ‘Region’ in the 



And you’ll now have the monthly sales for different regions.

You can change the default colors here too by clicking on the legend and choosing the

Change the Legend Color

option. That’s it. Hope it was simple and easy. Work with Colors in

Zoho Reports
 and do let us know how it goes.

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Zoho Creator Simplifies Data Management for Providence Community Action – A Case Study

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Providence Community Action is a private, non profit organization, dedicated to improving the quality of life for low income Providence residents. Their services include heating and weatherization assistance, consumer credit and debt counseling, clinical services (counseling), case management, an affordable housing program, Interim Middle School for youth excluded from regular public school and

much more
We spoke to Damian Costantino, the organization’s IT director who’s responsible for networking communications, system administration and database creation.

Damian had implemented an application using Zoho Creator, and they had about five users using it extensively. These five users in turn would deal with 100′s of clients. Damian, being the database administrator, was very well-versed in programming languages like Python and SQL, and had previously experimented


Google Forms, Filemaker, Microsoft SharePoint and 



 Complexity was not a concern, but the cost certainly was. They wanted something affordable, yet robust, especially because they were operating from four different locations, but not on the same VPN. No client should be serviced at more than one location, and details of the services provided had to be reported to their funders and agencies which refer clients. 

“What I like most about Zoho Creator is that you can make it as
complicated as you want or drill down as you want. The limit is what you
put on it.” – Damian Constantino, IT Director 

The integration between Zoho Creator and Zoho Reports is what they use extensively, second to sharing forms. Damian has made union queries a big part of the reports they generate, so that the graphical representation of data is self-explanatory; people don’t have to filter data. He says this application has improved their data collection and reporting efficiency 100%. They also appreciated not having to configure a connection to a back-end database and constantly ensure the connection is sound. Eliminating usage complexities for those who collect and report on data is an advantage with Zoho Creator, he said.

Zoho Creator turned out to be all that they were looking for in a database application,
efficiently refining the way they collected and reported on data. We’re also proud of the fact that Damian, a system administrator and a
network engineer who holds data security as a primary responsibility trusts Zoho Creator with their organization’s sensitive

Watch out for some more myth-busting stories about Zoho Creator. Coming soon.

Just in: Tax Groups in Zoho Invoice & Zoho Books

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Join us in welcoming tax groups to Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice. Tax groups will revive the way you work with your taxes.

there’s a need to use more than a single tax to your line items, you
have the option to group those taxes into a tax group and associate
that tax group to the line items, instead of the individual taxes.
example: In the US state of Alabama, a federal tax, a state tax and a local  tax are applicable. For ease of use, the three taxes could be grouped together into a tax group named “Alabama Taxes”. While invoicing customers in Alabama, this tax group would be used in place of three separate taxes.

In the example above, if the Federal tax is 15%, the state tax is 5.6% and the local tax is 3.5%, the tax group “Alabama Taxes” would impose a 24.1% tax on a line item. Besides this, you could also mark one of the taxes in the tax group as a “compound tax”.

Here are some FAQ which we presume would help you get started with using tax groups.

What if you use only one tax?

If you deal
with just a single tax, you can apply the tax directly to your line
items. Things change only for those who deal with more than a single

Why tax groups?

To make your invoicing simpler and to avoid any errors
while associating taxes. Earlier you’d have selected from two
drop-downs a tax 1 and a tax2. Now, you’ll have one drop down to select
from. Your tax selection could either be an individual tax or a tax group.

Here in our example, though the effective tax rate is 24.1%, on the invoice you’d see a clear break up of each of those taxes. 

How easy is it to set up tax groups?

Very easy, we would say. We’ve provided an interactive wizard within your account, to help you set up tax groups. This
wizard will show you the combination of taxes that you’ve used in your
invoices. You can name and create a tax group out of each of those
Now that’s
more than what you bargained for, right?

Wait no more, head straight to your Zoho Invoice or Zoho Books account and set up your tax groups.

If you haven’t been following us on twitter it’s high time you did because we’ve been tweeting some all our updates there by the day.

Maximize Your Productivity With Zoho Mail For Business

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As Business-Owners or Professionals, we’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our work productivity by accomplishing more in lesser time. A recent article at GigaOm, titled ‘15 Tips For Accomplishing More In Less Time‘ gives some advice on how this can be achieved. Many of the tips mentioned in the article talk about how email can affect your productivity. With the right features, of course, email can be transformed into a powerful Business tool that helps you maximize work productivity. This was also the main objective with which we recently launched Zoho Mail for Business, a powerful hosted email solution that includes several inbuilt productivity-oriented features.

Today, we’d like to highlight Zoho Mail’s Business features that go hand in hand with GigaOm’s productivity tips:

  1. To start with, Zoho Mail can help you stay focused on the important work with its integrated Tasks app. ​The Tasks app lets you add or assign tasks with options to include start/end times, not just dates and set reminders by pop-up or email. Task-tracking is made highly effective with features such as color-coding, status-tagging and a compact graphical report of the overall status of tasks. Here’s what one of our users, Angela had to say about the Tasks app..”I have been searching for a task management software and found some really expensive ones that are not nearly as effective a tool as the Zoho email task app. I love this system!

  2. Using Keyboard shortcuts for 35 commonly-used actions in Zoho Mail can save you quite a lot of time from not having to maneuver your mouse around, enabling you to check, read and respond to messages faster. You can even customize these shortcuts with your own keystroke definitions in the Mail Settings section.

  3. Unlike many other webmail interfaces, Zoho Mail supports multi-level folders and its Filters feature includes additional options such as ‘Begins with’, ‘Is not’, ‘Ends with’, etc. By being able to filter incoming messages and automatically organizing them into specific folders or sub-folders, you can spend more time focusing on critical stuff.

  4. More often than not, as you tend to respond to messages one at a time, the most important messages get lost in the Inbox pile, which builds up to an unmanageable scale. With Zoho Mail, you can take immediate action on every email by assigning flags and labels, moving them to archives or other folders with a simple drag & drop. By effectively utilizing the three types of flags, that is Info, Important and Follow-up, you can greatly simplify categorization of your messages.

  5. The Integrated Calendar app with shareable calendars helps to keep people together and up to date with important events, within teams or with customers. The app includes features such as the ability to check when people are free / busy while scheduling events, a smart add that automatically fills in available slots in your calendar with a single line input as well as email reminders for events. Together, these features help ensure that you can be in control of your calendar and stay organized while handling events.
  6. Ever been overwhelmed with situations where you had to interact with individuals from different teams or projects within a particular company? With Zoho Mail, you can now work in chunks and focus better by creating a main folder with the company name and sub-folders within this folder with the team names. Then, you can filter and organize incoming messages to these sub-folders and manage them more efficiently, one team at a time. Additionally, you can create email templates for different situations, common questions and insert relevant template chunks at compose time.

  7. When it comes to keeping it simple, Zoho Mail is equipped with features that simplify many otherwise complex tasks down to a click of a button. The best example of this is the ‘optional’ conversation view that unveils the history of a thread in a neat tree format, saving you the burden of manually searching for related messages. Also, the ‘Edit as new’ feature, that makes it easy to pick up and edit a previous email. Zoho Mail includes many such easy-to-use but powerful shortcuts for important actions.

So, those are 7 tips / features that make Zoho Mail an ideal choice for your Business communication needs. We hope you found these tips and features handy. If you haven’t already looked at Zoho Mail for your Business, now would be a good time to give it a try! To receive more updates and productivity tips, connect with Zoho Mail on Facebook and Twitter.